As the 2014 election campaign season inches closer, I think it's a perfect time to look at the issues, the candidates, and the mood of the electorate. On October 27th, the voters of Sault Ste. Marie have a very important decision to make: Continue with the status quo, or go for change? And when I say change, sometimes change isn't a good thing. Some candidates are not deserving of being elected to public office. Most of the current Councillors are also undeserving of being re-elected.
In the past four years, Sault Ste. Marie has plunged further into a depression. We rely on a Steel Plant that's nearing bankruptcy for jobs. We rely on call centres. Under the current Mayor's administration, hundreds of call centre jobs have been lost. And more stores and small businesses are packing up and firing people and laying people off, and the new businesses coming to the Sault now, that's not enough jobs. We need more businesses, more jobs.
That's the number one issue. Jobs. Another issue is transit. I have been a fierce advocate for better transit since 2011, since I created Sault Transit Reform on Facebook. Over a thousand people are part of the movement. Over a thousand people care about transit issues and they expect our municipal government to be on top of this issue. They don't want to pay more money for less services. There are other things that can be cut. Like sanding the roads when there's barely any snow left on the ground. I remember standing at the bus stop once, at the bottom of Pim Street hill, and this was in the spring of 2013, and there was only a few piles of snow here and there, and no ice whatsoever. Yet there was the sanding truck, dumping sand on the roads. The sand costs money. The gas to fuel the sand truck costs money too. So does the wage of the person driving the truck. Cut that absolutely STUPID expense. Another stupid expense is when Sault Transit spends money on Bon Soo advertisements, instead of restoring half-hour services on Saturday. Sault Transit has nothing to do with Bon Soo. So that's another place we can save money.
The candidates. All three of the Mayoral candidates are not exciting me. And they shouldn't excite you either. The incumbent, the current Mayor, her "Your City, Your Say" slogan of 2010, that was a lie. The slogan should have been "If you want the 'Same old, Same old,' vote for me!" Change hasn't happened. We need someone better. And the other two candidates aren't exactly Mayoral material. One wasn't even born in the Sault and I do think that any Mayor we elect should be a Sault-born and Sault-raised resident. Someone who understands our city's needs. Someone who wants to be elected to make a difference, not collect a hold power or collect a pay cheque. Until I see that candidate, and a candidate willing to pledge that he or she will not cut transit services, then there will be no endorsement. And we should all just stay home and not vote at all.
The mood of the electorate is another issue here. Tired. Tired of the lies. Tired of the lack of action on serious issues. Tired of the layoffs. Tired of no jobs coming to the Sault. Tired of brown water. Tired. Ward One Councillors, I respect them both for their commitment to the service of their constituents, but the brown water crisis could have been handled better. Instead of writing an open letter that accomplishes nothing, if I was a Ward One Councillor I would be in the new PUC building that we're all paying for, my fists would be banging the desks of the powers that be at the PUC. I'd be yelling and cursing and demanding that there be a solution "RIGHT NOW, AT ONCE, IMMEDIATELY!!" They'd fall out of their executive spinning chairs trembling in fear at my anger.The people of Copernicus and Lorna Drive and Taskar and Amber Street, they all deserve better. They deserve clean water. They deserve Representatives who would have taken care of this crisis immediately instead of biding their time and thinking of strategies to make themselves look good for voters. Saultites are tired of political failure. We need real change at City Hall. Only two candidates out of all of the candidates for Mayor and Council, only two, seem to have my respect and support. Check back later for endorsements!
About The Author
Matthew Frank Kot was born and raised here in Sault Ste Marie. He first starting writing articles for Soonews.ca in early 2008, becoming the city's youngest columnist and journalist. He then went on to write for Local2, and for a short time had his "MATTer of Opinion" column on SaultOnline.com. Matthew was very involved in the 2010 and 2014 Municipal Elections and wrote several opinion pieces about important issues. In 2011, Matthew started Sault Transit Reform and has continued advocating for a better transit system since then.