With the municipal election just weeks away, candidates in cities and towns across the province are now in full campaign mode.
In Oakville tonight, all five mayoral contenders squared off during a debate hosted by the town’s Chamber of Commerce.
Oakville mayoral candidate John McLaughlin made it clear from the start he had his sights set on attacking incumbent Rob Burton: “I’m running to end eight years of failed leadership. That’s by Mr. Burton if you don’t know that. Failed policies, fiscal mismanagement and doublespeak.”
While hoping for his third consecutive term as mayor, Burton stressed the status quo: “The current members of council have worked hard with me to deliver what you voted for. They earned your trust. If you are supporting me again in this election, I urge you to support the current members of council too.”
The five contenders — which also includes Gordon Brennan, Mary Kennedy and Greg Warchol, fielded questions from the audience on a municipal land transfer tax, transit and job creation.
Gordon Brennan: “If we revive the downtown core, which is the heart of our town, then we’ll be able hire more local people. We’ll be able to get the young people some good paying jobs.”
Once again, Burton highlighted the current government’s achievements: “Council and I have an award winning economic development strategy that is working to produce 1,000 jobs a year for our town. We’re on track, in fact we’re ahead. Maybe you heard the news today about Ford.”
And McLaughlin went on the attack: “Thousands of manufacturing jobs have been lost from Oakville, I believe the non-residential tax portion of the revenues if you read the town’s financial statements is only 14%. That means they stink on their job creation.”
As you could see, things never really got too lively during tonight’s debate. We had the chance to speak to a few people in the audience. Most of them said incumbent mayor Burton came out the winner. And at least two people we spoke with said overall, they were disappointed with the quality of candidates.