Here are Five Questions with 2014 Cornwall Ontario City Council candidate Michael O’Neil.
1 – Tell the voters a bit about yourself. What skills and experience would make you a good candidate for Council?
I was born, raised and educated in Cornwall. I am bilingual and married with two children. I am a past member of the Waterfront Development Committee, Audit Committee, the Library Board as well as local and regional French school councils and a board committee. I am a member of the United Counties Science Fair Committee and I volunteer with the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind as a puppy walker.
My volunteer work, committee experience and my ability to work as part of a team would serve the taxpayers well on Council. I always do my homework and come prepared!
2 – In what ways could we improve Economic Development and how can we make Cornwall a more friendly city for small business?
If we are to expand and diversify our tax base and ensure that our citizens have good jobs and adequate housing then we have to definitely explore ways to improve our efforts in Economic Development. The Community Improvement Program must be revised to ensure fair and equitable treatment of all areas of the City.
Small business owners need to meet with and advise Council which municipal processes and procedures need improving, and in what way. Council then needs to act upon what is presented in order to assist in expanding existing businesses and promote the creation of new businesses.
3 – What is your vision for the arts and culture? Would you support the building of an Arts and Culture Centre in Cornwall?
My vision would be one where all of the arts and culture organizations come together under one cohesive umbrella. This amalgamation would allow these organizations to share expenses and reduce duplicate costs. There is strength in numbers and it is only through cooperation and the sharing of common goals that this umbrella organization could survive and indeed flourish.
I support an Arts and Culture Centre for our community and one that is possibly created from an existing rehabilitated property, with ongoing support from all levels of government as well as the local business sector.
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?
Council decisions have long-term costs in ongoing operational expenditures and capital commitments for upgrades and replacements – we cannot mortgage our children’s futures for the sake of “wants” rather than “needs”. Taxes can be frozen and possibly reduced over the next four years and I will work hard to ensure that they do!
Council should be reduced from 10 councillors to 8, with the salary and related expenditure savings returned to reserves and their remuneration should be frozen over the four year term. The City has to look at doing things differently with an eye to reducing costs and gaining efficiencies.
5 – What has been the biggest accomplishment at City Hall over the past 4 years or what has been the biggest issue of concern at City Hall over the past 4 years?
The City’s online access to data by taxpayers in English and French is a step in the right direction with respect to transparency.
The biggest issue of concern would be the apparent lack of teamwork in some instances. Decision making by Council must include input from all stakeholders, namely Council, administration and the taxpayers. All the facts must be present at the table prior to a sound decision being taken, and only once Council has had a chance to consult with all parties concerned.
There is an old saying that “knowledge equals power”, so do it right the first time!
Thank you for this opportunity to reach out to the voters of Cornwall.