By Chris Pickup

Wednesday night’s all candidates meeting in Cayuga was sedate, thoughtful, and ….. well, boring.

It’s good to be respectful, and the four candidates were, but it would have been nice to see a little bit of edge or oomph in what they were saying. Something to set the individuals apart, as so many of their answers were along the same lines.

Candidates answered four preset questions, and another few from the audience, but there was nothing that could have been described as debate. None of the issues that have been racking the community for the last two years were mentioned. There weren’t even any rebuttals.

Donna Pitcher, who lives in South Cayuga, showed the most overt energy. ”I’ve always been passionate about local politics and often thought about running,” she said, “I’m now ready. I don’t own a business, I have no affiliation, take no campaign donations, owe no favours.”

Now retired, her job had required good customer service, and she has since  been involved in the community as a volunteer and fundraiser.

She pointed out council policy and stewardship have long term consequences. Provision of hi speed internet, natural gas, all need partnerships with different levels of government and council cannot promise   these things on their own.

She said the county needs to look at what it has and build on top. We have everything at the basic level that can be used to bring in more commerce  and new residents.

She promised integrity in all her dealings, to be truthful, to listen, respond to calls, take every issue seriously, and never make a decision on her own personal preference. “I have always been a strong believer that not everyone believes the same thing, and every voice should be heard.”

She advocated regular meet and greet nights to discuss issues as they came up.

Ray Hunsinger lives and works in the Fisherville area and has served in the past on Haldimand council, regional council, and as school trustee. “I know the demands and commitments of being on council and the role of steward of tax dollars for the next four years.”

As a part of the community, “I will be there for you. Your concerns will not be ignored. I’ll put local back into government. It’s my mandate, my number one concern.”

He also noted there are a lot of gravel roads out there and would attempt to accelerate the program. He fully supported an indoor pool in Cayuga, central to all residents, but recognized there are five other councillors and Dunnville, Hagersville, Jarvis and Caledonia also want one.

He said the county has to streamline the application process for building and zoning, knock down some barriers and roll out the red carpet. Tap into the huge potential of the river, work with economic development to promote industrial land, stressing access to the border without 400 series highways.

He promised to work collectively with staff and the other councillors. “I have no pet projects. I live, work and breathe ward 2, and I hear the concerns. Most of all, I enjoy it.”

Incumbent Fred Morison has been on council for two terms. “I believe there’s a lot more to be done, and want to make sure projects are completed. I want to make sure hydro money is looked after to benefit residents in future.” He also advocated for seniors.

He will speak to business owners on commercial development, try to attract industry through  hi speed Internet and attract younger people to stay here through such amenities as an indoor pool.

He has a business and financial background and owns an insurance business in Haldimand.

He said the county has streamlined and rolled core offices into one with the new administration building, and brought in the Grand Erie Business Centre  for loans and business advice.

Councillors want to hear from the public, he said. But people get frustrated and decisions are complicated.

John Metcalfe is a lifelong resident of Cayuga, as are his children. He has been heavily invested in the community through the Cayuga Kinsmen Club and its projects, and spent 35 years coaching various minor sports. 

Now retired, he feels council needs some new eyes and ears, promising to be a strong voice. He cited the need to seek solutions and eliminate obstacles to home based businesses, which need hi speed internet. He also promised to look at bringing natural gas to rural areas, take a close look at policing, address affordable housing, public transportation and tourism.

He noted we have amenities here with the Grand River, Erie shoreline, racetrack. He supports an indoor pool, but a pool attached to the high school was turned down, arena project wanted a pool but was told by a consultant that pools were being privatized. “If we want to attract people,we’ve got to spend some money,” he said.

And we have to listen to people, their concerns, and respond.

What is your position on opting in or out of retail marijuana sales in Haldimand county?

Morison: Opt out. It’s fraught with all kinds of social problems.

Metcalfe: Opt out

Pitcher: Opt in. She did research and spoke to police officer who told her retail outlets will be strictly regulated by Health Canada. People would be able to buy there without it being laced with death-dealing fentanyl as it often is on the black market.

Hunsinger: Is waiting for the council report on the matter, to get more info to make an informed decision. Leaning towards opting out, but is keeping an open mind.