THUNDER BAY – With only a few days to go before the election, our efforts to knock on as many doors as possible will continue. It has been an incredible learning experience listening to your concerns and discussing the frustration you have felt these past few years. For whatever reason our city has moved away from putting the wishes of the community first on a host of major initiatives that have divided our community instead of uniting it.
That must change.
People running for office bring with them their life experiences either professionally or personally to whatever position they may be elected to. My years spent as a police officer presented challenges that range from the mundane, to those that were life and death. Being held hostage at gunpoint and having to talk my way out of it, provided me with an appreciation for just how important communication skills are to any situation.
One of the more interesting things that happened during the campaign took place over a lunch with a close friend at a local restaurant.
A gentleman sitting a few tables away said hi and my friend asked who that was. I told him it was someone who I had a fight with many years ago while on-duty that ended with him being arrested and locked up.
As the man finished his lunch he came over to talk to me and said he saw that I was running for office. He told me that I had always treated him with respect during his years of being on the wrong side of the law and to place a large campaign sign on his property. I was humbled by this generous offer. It is that style that I have attempted to use throughout my career.
Disagreements will always take place, but it is how we deal with them when they do occur that is most important. We will never please every taxpayer, nor will ever decision be approved by everyone but that is not what I see as the problem. People need to believe that their concerns are being heard, that their hopes for our future do not fall on deaf ears.
Even when people are told no, if they believe you have considered what they have said and honestly weighed their positions, they can support you even if it is not what they had wanted. To me, that is leadership and working as a team.
I said in the recent debate that I do not have all of the answers, not one of us does so why does it seem that so often some of our council members are unwilling to admit a mistake.
When one candidate for Mayor states publicly that not one decision impacting business in the last four years was wrong, I have to ask if we are looking at the same score card. Acknowledging errors is the only way to ensure they will not be repeated, and I believe we do a disservice to everyone when we refuse to say that on that particular project, we got it wrong. I believe people will have more respect for the efforts of everyone if we can just admit that we do not have the market cornered on perfection.
Like many of you I believe we have enormous untapped potential in this community. I believe we can be a leader not only regionally but across this country if we just commit to working together to make it happen. I do not want to suggest that all of our challenges will be easily fixed but I will say that the effort to make positive change will not stop after the election, or any day after that. If I am fortunate enough to become your Mayor, I will dedicate the hours necessary to ensure we are all moving forward to make Thunder Bay the envy of this country.
We have great people working for us at all levels of our city who are capable of great things. Coupled with strong support from you the community, there is nothing we cannot achieve. Dealing with our tax rate, ensuring strong economic development, making our youth feel like they are part of the solution are just a few of the areas that we need to tackle on day one after the election. Bringing transparency back to city hall and making our community safe have been major parts of my platform and by working together, I believe they can be achieved.
We still have many challenges facing us including the wind farm issue that continues to be front and centre for the community.
Failing to deal with issues as they arise, keeps us from meeting the many challenges that any community faces daily. We must not be so afraid to fail, that we become afraid to act. Inaction in some respects is worse than an honest effort that was wrong.
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the countless volunteers, family and friends who have supported me since my announcement. There are simply too many to name but their efforts have been greatly appreciated and I could not have travelled this path without them. Their kindness and effort was only matched by the warm wishes and support I have received from all of you as I came to your door and asked for your support. The words of encouragement I have received have made this entire process a wonderful experience.
Our community can either choose to maintain the status quo or we can chose to chart a new path, one of inclusion, partnerships and commitment.
I have often stated that we can do better because I believe we can do better. Many of you feel the same. On October 25th we can create that new future where our community becomes united and begins the journey to greatness that we all believe is possible.
Our children deserve nothing but our best effort to make Thunder Bay the place that we have always hoped for. Together we can make it happen.