The six candidates running to be the next District of Muskoka Chair made their pitch to district council on why they’re the best person for the job.
Six questions were put to the six candidates. However, Jean Polak, moderator for the debate, mentioned there were “more than 50″ that were submitted. “Remember that the people who will vote are your representatives and you can approach your district councillors with any thoughts or views you may have on how you should vote,” said Polak.
The first question, which was submitted by Polak, was why the candidates believe they’re the best person for the job.
Curry Clifford, a realtor in Muskoka, said he has demonstrated a commitment to Muskoka since moving to the area seven years ago, pointing out how he joined the Bracebridge Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Rotary Club of Gravenhurst. He said his time working under four premiers starting with Bill Davis in 2000 is proof of his political experience. He added it’s important council makes well-informed decisions, so he will put his trust in staff to give them the information they need.
Don Smith, a current district council representative for Bracebridge, said his past political experience in Muskoka makes him the best person for the job. “I have a passion for serving the people of Muskoka,” he said. Smith said he prides himself in building and having relationships in all corners of Muskoka which he said is what sets him apart from the other candidates.
Howard Rosenthal, who is retired, said he will spend all his time focusing on his job as district chair. He pointed out how half of district council is new. “That reflects the public’s desire for change,” he said. Rosenthal explained he has “no baggage,” pointing out how he has no alliances politically or business-wise. “I’m not a political animal,” he added. “I believe in action and I like to get the job done.”
Jeff Lehman, former three-term mayor of Barrie, said the job as district chair comes down to “consensus, communication, and representing the district.” He pointed out that some consider him an “outsider” but he believes that’s an asset. “I bring to this no agenda,” said Lehman. “Your agenda will be my agenda.” He added he will use his contacts at all levels of government to the district’s advantage if chosen as chair.
Tim Withey, who was a district councilor for Huntsville during the last term of council, said his political experience dates back to 1988 when he moved to Huntsville. Over the years, he said he’s shown he has “work across party lines” having been appointed to provincial healthcare boards by previous Progressive Conservative and Liberal governments.
Terry Pilger, who most recently served as a district councilor for Gravenhurst, said it’s important whoever is chosen is up-to-speed on district affairs. “As the chair, you must act as the spokesperson for the district on major issues and policies as well as manage the external relationships with other organizations and levels of government,” he said. Pilger added he doesn’t have an agenda and will ensure every person around the table has a voice in the decisions council makes.
A recording of the debate has been posted to the district’s website.
The 22 district councillors will vote on who they believe is best suited to be District Chair for the next four years on Dec. 5 during the first council meeting on the new term.