Former auditor general vows to 'tell it like it is'
A fierce critic of city government since he became the AG in 2009, Brian Bigger said the trouble he's had during his internal audits is a reflection of how citizens are treated.
He was introduced by campaign manager Jeff MacIntyre, who is also chair of Downtown Sudbury. MacIntyre said he met with Bigger recently and was soon on board with his campaign.
“Brian surprised me massively with his breadth of knowledge,” MacIntyre said. “Allowing Brian to have a full voice is, I think, something that would be a major asset for this city.”
After thanking his wife and wishing his daughter a happy birthday, Bigger talked about how passionate he is about improving the city, starting with Tom Davies Square. Citizens deserve a “council and a mayor they can trust to act in their best interests,” he said.
“We all remember the transit ticket scandal.”
The scandal was made public as a result of an audit by Bigger's department. It emerged that the vendor responsible for selling tickets on behalf of Sudbury Transit was still being paid and his contract renewed, even though he wasn't remitting ticket revenue. He owed the city close to $1 million at one point, although the loss to the city has since been cut in half.
When it emerged in 2009, Bigger said councillors – including current mayoral candidates John Rodriguez and Ron Dupuis – decided to keep details of the scandal secret from the public, “and simply expensed and wrote off $500,000 of our tax dollars.”
“If not for my report, the scandal would have been buried,” he said. “That's $500,000 – that money could have gone to the arts, parks, leisure or child care services, or actually improving Sudbury Transit services. Now they're talking about a 4.9-per-cent tax increase next year? … Has council forgotten that it's our money they are spending?”
Criticism of the past four years aside, Bigger didn't mention the policies or platforms he will campaign on, saying that will be revealed in the next few weeks.
“I've been working very hard getting my campaign started,” he said, explaining why his platform isn't ready. “I'm definitely one of the candidates for mayor who didn't start two years ago. I only started last week.”
Until then, he said he will visit communities across the city to introduce himself and engage with citizens.
Considering the dysfunction at Tom Davies Square over the last four years, where Mayor Marianne Matichuk failed to get support from council to implement her campaign promises, Bigger was asked how things would be different if he's elected.
“I have experience in large corporations, and have worked at the senior management levels, as I said, at Sears, which has 50,000 employees,” Bigger said. “And so with my experience in working at the senior management level, I believe I can provide the leadership that citizens and the council are looking for.
“The public will elect the new council, and we're all professionals. We will work in the interest of the citizens as a council and I intend to make that a priority, to regain the trust of citizens.”
There are nine people running for mayor in the Oct. 27 election. Matichuk announced in June she wouldn't be running again.