Here are Five Questions with 2014 Cornwall Ontario City Council candidate Elaine MacDonald.
1 – Tell the voters a bit about yourself. What skills and experience would make you a good candidate for Council?
I’ve been an effective leader and a team player all my life, as a classroom teacher, department head and union leader. I’ve given freely of my time in extra-curriculars, as a founding member of the Social Justice Coalition and a longtime member of the Ontario Health Coalition, which is a network of community groups that is committed to protecting the public healthcare. I’ve served two terms on city council and am eager to continue. We have achieved much but there’s more to be one and I want to be a part of it.
2 – In what ways could we improve Economic Development and how can we make Cornwall a more friendly city for small businesses?
Economic development has done a phenomenal job in diversifying our economy from the dark days of 2006 to the present. Given their track record, which includes the almost total development of the industrial park, we need to support their efforts and then stay out of their way. They have been very proactive on the small business file too, maintaining the business enterprise centre and cooperating with the Chamber of Commerce and Team Cornwall to attract people to invest and businesses to set up shop in Cornwall. They are an energetic and innovative team that serves the city well.
3 – What is your vision for arts and culture? Would you support the building of an Arts and Culture Centre in Cornwall?
Yes! I absolutely support building an arts centre, or better yet, refurbishing an old existing building for that purpose. There is an incredible amount of artistic activity in Cornwall and the city must recognize the positive role the creative sector plays in the economy and support it accordingly. I am a proud and active member of the Collective for the Arts/Collectif pour les arts. Our slogan is “We have the arts. Now let’s build them a home. I can’t think of a better way for the city to mark Canada’s sesquicentennial in 2017.
4 – Do you support freezing or lowering taxes? If so, where would the savings come from, and would you support reducing some services? If you do not support freezing or lowering taxes explain why.
The short answer is no, I would not support freezing or lowering taxes because we would have to cut services or programs to pay for the cut. Taxes are a shared resource, a community resource. They are the means whereby we build the infrastructure and sustain the programs people rely on. People depend on the services taxes provide. An alternative to taxes that is frequently suggested is user fees but for some families they are already prohibitive. Shared programs and services that are accessible to all are the ties that make and bind a community.
5 – What has been the biggest accomplishment at City Hall over the past four years OR what has been the biggest issue of concern at City Hall over the past four years?
The really big concerns and accomplishments span decades. It’s unfortunate that the practical reality of elections every four years tends to make us think in the short term, in segments in which we are directly involved. Earlier on, in my first term, we discussed and debated sustainability explicitly, and considered the practicalities of evaluating our programs, bylaws and policies against the triple bottom line of social, environmental and financial effects. I think we lost sight of the concept in later years but we need to bring it back, in an effort to achieve sustainability. The future depends on it.