October 12, 2022 11:02am
Stratford has 3 candidates running for Mayor this year, as Dan Mathieson steps away.
One is longtime educator and current councillor, Martin Ritsma. He says he wants to ensure there is a smooth transition to the new council, and more engagement with the public. He points to housing as a major issue to tackle, as well.
“Whether it’s for housing for the marginalized, for our people that are living rough, I’ve been involved with Stratford-Perth Shelterlink for 23 years, it’s housing for our youth, we need to ensure we can make housing available to everyone,” Ritsma stated.
Ritsma says housing needs must be addressed moving forward. He also says his message to voters is that he is an engager and wants to start weekly call-in sessions on zoom with the mayor in his effort to be more involved.
“There’s so much power in that relationship building, that engagement, that consensus decision making is so valuable. So that is something that will come to me very naturally, it was part of who I was as an educator,” Ritsma said.
Another candidate is local architect, Robert Ritz, who says his goal is to make Stratford Council more transparent. Ritz says the current council is “the most secretive council in Canada,” and he feels the next council must be far more engaging and receptive to what the public wants. Ritz echoed many mayoral candidates around the region by also pointing to housing as a critical local issue.
“We don’t have enough workers in this city for the 400 jobs that are available for them becuase there’s no housing available for them that they can afford. We have a homeless issue, again, that’s a housing issue, as well,” shared Ritz.
Ritz says he will offer voters a new voice in the mayor’s chair that works with the public more.
“The message is, I am the choice that’s not a councillor. As an architect, it’s my job to work with my clients to get the home they want, and with their trust, we work together, and get them the home they want. It’s great training to be mayor, I know how to work closely with people and hear other ideas,” Ritz said.
The final candidate is current councillor Kathy Vassilakos, who has been on council for 8 years. She says going forward, the city has many things to implement like the bike and pedestrian master plan, the city official plan, and she also spoke on the need to keep improving the quality of life by making it affordable.
“If people can’t live where they work, then they’re spending an awful lot of time in a car every day, commuting, and that’s sort of theft from their time with their families, it takes away from their ability to participate in their community, people don’t shop locally and that hurts the local economy, so it’s an issue we have to find some solutions to,” Vassilakos stated.
Vassilakos adds she always tries to make informed decisions, and she will do that with the public in mind as mayor.
“I’m a scientist, so I like to believe I ask relevant questions, I look at all the data, I listen to people. I also ask myself who’s not in the room, because they need representation, as well. At the end of the day, the decisions I make are informed decisions,” concluded Vassilakos.
The municipal elections take place on Monday, October 24. Stratford City Council has approved the use of internet and telephone voting. The City of Stratford has been utilizing internet and telephone voting since 2010. Ranked ballots were not considered for 2022 as Provincial legislation has removed this option for Ontario municipalities.
For more information, visit https://www.stratford.ca/en/inside-city-hall/municipalelection.aspx#Method-of-Voting.
Around Perth County, Jim Aitcheson was acclaimed as Mayor for Perth South, and Al Strathdee was acclaimed as Mayor for St. Marys.