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Mayoral candidate addresses controversial issues from the last city council

By: Darren MacDonald - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Mar 19, 2014 - 3:08 PM |
Ward 5 Coun. Ron Dupuis launched his bid to be the next mayor of Greater Sudbury on Tuesday morning. Photo by Arron Pickard.

Ward 5 Coun. Ron Dupuis launched his bid to be the next mayor of Greater Sudbury on Tuesday morning. Photo by Arron Pickard.

Ron Dupuis on HCI funds, firing the ombudsman and regulating store hours

The word “change” was uttered several times Tuesday morning when veteran city councillor Ron Dupuis launched his bid for the mayor's job.

But in the absence of specific policy announcements – which he said will be rolled out gradually in the months ahead of the Oct. 27 election – the councillor for Ward 5 faced a number of familiar questions on some of the controversial issues councillors have dealt with in the last four years.


Here's a quick look at his thoughts on some of those issues:

On overcoming the dysfunctional relationship between council and the mayor's office that has repeatedly flared into the open:

“I have a lot of experience. I've worked under five mayors, and I've learned from all of them.”

“It's all about leadership, it's about respecting one another around the council table. We're all there for the same reasons. So it's very important that we come together as a group and we move things forward. And that hasn't happened in the last four years.”

“We're not always going to agree, we're not always going to have the same ideas, but what we will have is respect for one another's opinion.”

On deregulating store hours, which Dupuis has opposed, while supporting putting the issue to a referendum:

“For store hours, I vowed I would not be making comments on it, for the simple reason I want people to make up their own minds.”

“The people are going to tell us what they want us to do, and council will abide by that decision … So we can deal with that and be finished with it.”

“I'm a retailer. I've been a retailer for a very long time. When it comes to store hours, I really need time off on Boxing Day and I need time off at Christmas … (But) it's an issue that will be determined on Oct. 27 by the people.”

On the controversial healthy community initiative (HCI) funds, which give councillors direct spending control over $50,000 each year to spend in their wards:

“I don't use my HCI funds. I meet with staff, they tell me what the needs are, capital projects, and they administer them.”

“My funds for this year are going to be going to — there's $30,000 going to buy a new play structure for a playground we haven't invested in in years. There's another $20,000 going to another playground, again, that we haven't invested in in years. That's where the money will be spent.”

“Staff has made the decision as to where (the money) would go. In consultation with me.”

On why councillors took over control of the funds from city staff:

“When we used to do our budget, there would be 50 or 60 items that were all under $25,000. So we said, this is getting ridiculous, we're looking at all these little things, let's put them in the HCI fund. That way, if a councillor wants to spend $10,000 on a project, with staff, it doesn't have to come back to the budget.”

“We just tried to, let's just say, shorten the budget process. We were spending a lot of time on projects $20,000 or $25,000 or less. This was a way for us to be able to decide in each ward what should be spent. So any capital project was to be put into the HCI fund. And that's what was done.”

“Again, that is something that will have to be addressed by the new council. I have always consulted with staff, and I feel very comfortable in doing that.”

On the decision to fire Ombudsman André Martin as the city's closed-door meetings investigator:

“It's all about characters and people who have differences of opinions. An ombudsman is a person who is there to look after the public's interests. But some of the remarks that were made were totally uncalled for.”

“But again, the ombudsman is something that we will revisit. It has to be revisited by a new council and it's definitely something that will be addressed very early in the term.”

On the new security measures being imposed at city hall:

Dupuis said the main problem was the way the measures have been explained to the public, that the main impetus behind them was city staff, not politicians.
“We do have to look out for the security of our employees … But I have never felt threatened in the council chamber — ever — in my 17 years.”

“But there could be a little overkill, as far as security goes ... We're hoping some of the measures will be relaxed a little, while some of the measures should be implemented.”

On the possibility of splitting the vote with John Rodriguez, the ex-mayor and union-friendly candidate who has said he intends to run again:

“John Rodriguez has not announced that he's running yet. I'm just worried about my campaign and what it takes for me to get elected as mayor.”

On the need for change at Tom Davies Square:

“A lot of people are going to be demanding change. Our current mayor ran on a change platform.”

“There are a number of councillors who may not run. So there is going to be a lot of new faces at the council table. And it's going to be up to the mayor to ensure they are brought up to snuff and that these people are willing to work with everybody else sitting around the table – whether they're new councillors or returning councillors. Everyone will have the same say around the council table.”

“I really believe that residents need to be heard, that they need to be listened to. I want to give residents their voice back ... It's not (happening now). There has to be some changes made, and we are willing to do that.”

On what his campaign will be all about:

“I'm going to be releasing my platform as we go along (but) it's going to be about leadership, it's going to be about communication, it's going to be about working as a team to move this city forward. One person can't do it alone. You need consensus from the people around the table.”

“There's a long campaign here – I'm not going to come out and share it with all of you now. It's going to be released over the next 30 weeks.”

More details on Dupuis and his bid for the mayor's job can be found at his website, rondupuis.com.
Darren MacDonald

Darren MacDonald

Staff Writer

@Darrenmacd

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