Here are Five Questions with 2014 Cornwall Ontario City Council candidate Greg Kielec.
1 – Tell the voters a bit about yourself. What skills and experience would make you a good candidate for Council?
I am a former journalist and editor with 25 years or experience covering municipal government. In particular, I covered Cornwall City Hall extensively during my recent three years reporting with The/Le Journal.
I have acquired an enhanced knowledge of municipal governance through courses and seminars throughout my career. I have studied “sunshine law” changes to Municipal Act 2001 aimed at making municipalities more open and accountable to taxpayers. And my knowledge base has been further enhanced the past few years to include whistleblowing policy, the conflict of interest act and human rights law as it pertains to municipal employees.
I believe that all council members should have a strong grasp of governance procedures as proscribed by the Ontario Municipal Act as well as all other legislation, such as the conflict of interest act, closed meeting procedure and any other applicable legislation to guide them into making decisions which don’t leave the city open to large financial liabilities like what has happened in the past term.
2 – In what ways could we improve Economic Development and how can we make Cornwall a more friendly city for small businesses?
I think we could model our city after Vancouver and Victoria, B.C. to attract green industry,cut costs for city government as well as city businesses and industries and work with Gerry Benson and his group to create a Green University in Cornwall, perhaps in conjunction with the St. Lawrence River Institute and the provincial and federal governments. I would also like to see our Economic Development Department repurposed with an inward focus on the city and its residents with a holistic approach aimed at implementing projects to improve the quality of life for average city residents, thus making Cornwall more attractive to new residents and business.
3 – What is your vision for arts and culture? Would you support the building of an Arts and Culture Centre in Cornwall?
I think a healthy arts and culture community is a key part of a vibrant city. I would like to see a more cohesive arts and culture community which could result from the building of an arts and culture centre in Cornwall, but with the increasing financial pressures on the city I don’t think it is viable without major funding from upper tier governments. Some creative thinking and innovation will be needed to move this important segment of the city forward.
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.
I think we also need to find ways to lower taxes through efficiency and innovation without a wholesale slashing of city jobs which would further damage an already fragile local economy. Not only would lower taxes have the real effect of putting more money in the pockets of residents and business owners, but would also be a great promotional tool to attract more business to Cornwall. I do believe we can reduce taxes without reducing services. It is something that has been done at the corporate level for decades so it should also be achievable at the municipal level.
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 biggest issue at city hall over the past term has been a lack of accountability and that flows directly from an omnipresent culture of secrecy which prevents the public and media from knowing what exactly council and administration is doing in the name of taxpayers with their tax dollars. There have been too many secret meetings, too many closed meetings and an overarching practice of denying information about spending decisions which should be readily available to the public and media. The citizens of Cornwall should not have to file a Freedom of Information request — as I was forced to do a number of times while with The/Le Journal — to learn how their elected leaders are spending their hard-earned tax dollars.