Vote Dick Carpani for Mayor
  Sarnia Ontario Canada

The four

Photo: GLENN OGILVIE The Observer

The four candidates for Sarnia mayor squared off at a Rotary Club all-candidates meeting, Monday at the Guildwood Inn. From left: Joe Murray, Dick Carpani, Carlos Murray and Mike Bradley.

Mayoral race gets personal

It became clear on Monday that Sarnia’s mayoral race is shaping up to be much more about personal style than debating the traditional issues.

The four candidates made their first appearance together at an all-candidates meeting hosted by the Rotary Club of Sarnia.

“I’m one who works with people,” said Dick Carpani, taking a direct hit at Mayor Mike Bradley, who is frequently criticized for not being a team player.

Carpani is a former councillor who served with Bradley almost five years.

“I take advantage of the knowledge and opinions of each councillor. I will not reject a proposal without a hearing. I will not turf any business person out of my office,” Carpani said.

“People tell me I’m too much of a nice guy for the job. But I don’t think being pleasant is a bad characteristic for mayor.”

With Bradley leading council for the past 18 years, the speeches were as much about whether the city needs change as they were about taxation and infrastructure.

“If we keep doing what we have been doing, how do we expect a different outcome?” Carpani asked in a final shot at Bradley.

Coun. Joe Murray also levelled criticism at the incumbent, alluding to the mayor’s long hours working at city hall.

To attract new investors and create new jobs, Sarnia needs “a salesman who can close the deal,” Murray said.

Rather than leave that up to the professionals who have been hired to bring in new business and industry, Murray said he would take on that job himself if elected mayor.

“I believe in the old-fashioned way of doing things,” he said. “As mayor, I’d go out on the road to meet the CEOs and the decision-makers and show them what we have to offer. I wouldn’t sit in my office 80 hours a week.

“If I have to take them out for a beer or take them out salmon fishing or golfing, I’ll do it.

“We need to bring them here and we all know that once they’re here, they will be sold,” Murray said.

Bradley told about 65 Rotary club members over lunch at the Best Western Guildwood that his political experience is what makes him the most capable.

“What the mayor is all about is being the person who understands the fabric of the community,” he said.

He took credit for bringing labour and business together in Sarnia and for advocating for local residents with the premier and other influential decision-makers.

All the candidates touched on the same issues: jobs, controlling taxes, fixing infrastructure, keeping youth here, attracting more doctors and reigning in the city’s debt.

Murray put the current debtload at $74 million and said the city pays $11 million every year just to service it.

“We just can’t go on like this,” he said. “The only way to get out of this mess is new-found money...”

As a councillor the past three years, Murray said he’s been “squeezing and scrimping the budget” and growth is Sarnia’s only answer now.

Bradley made no apologies for the debt.

“It’s your sports complex, your sewage plant, your water plant and your roads,” he said. “We’re doing more this year than we’ve ever done.”

Bradley said the city is on the right track because of council’s work with Lambton College and investment in the University of Western Ontario’s Research and Development park.

Carpani said it’s council’s job to make decisions that encourage investment, then let the local Chamber of Commerce and Economic Partnership officials do their jobs.

It would be great to land another UBE but it’s more likely that job growth in Sarnia will result from the expansion of existing businesses, Carpani said.

Carlos Murray, Sarnia’s fourth mayoral candidate, had equal time on the podium and much of it was spent endorsing Bradley.

“You people tell me what it is you want done and in my first year as mayor, I’ll give Mike part of my pay so he’s there to help me out,” he said to much laughter.

Later he defended the incumbent.

“I hear people saying Mike Bradley has done a terrible job. Well, he’s had (former premier) Mike Harris and McGuinty to deal with.

“The debt could be more like $100 million if it wasn’t for (Bradley). He’s done a great job.”

The first all-candidates meeting open to the public is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday at city hall, hosted by the Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce

By CATHY DOBSON The Observer Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Date This Page Was Last Up-Dated:  October 22, 2006