Mayoral candidates discuss issues surrounding CK

Chatham-Kent's mayoral candidates. Alysson Storey, Robert Salvatore Powers, Randy Hope, Allan Traylor, Harold Atkinson, Darrin Canniff. (Photo by Natalia Vega)

Chatham-Kent’s six mayoral candidates have different ideas as to what is best for the municipality and what needs to be done in the coming years.

Country 92.9 FM and BlackburnNews.com hosted a roundtable discussion, which aired Wednesday night. A full recording of the discussion can be heard below.

Mayoral candidates Randy Hope, Darrin Canniff, Alysson Storey, Robert Salvatore Powers, Harold Atkinson, and Allan Robert Traylor participated in the discussion. The candidates answered questions from the community and BlackburnNews.com reporters. The questions ranged from crime, infrastructure concerns, to their stance on marijuana shops in the municipality.

With the recreational use of marijuana being legalized in Canada on Wednesday, Powers said he expects the crime rate to increase.

“I do believe that policing is a very big issue, especially with the increasing use of marijuana likely to come after marijuana legalization,” he said.

Hope admitted “petty” crimes do occur in the municipality. He added that ways to combat those issues include neighbourhood watches and communication with the provincial government about the legal system.

“Some of the petty crimes and repeat offenders need to be dealt with in different ways,” said Hope. “I think it takes a community to monitor the issue of petty crime but it also takes a whole lot of judicial systems to make sure we’re doing the right thing.”

When it comes to creating business opportunities in Chatham-Kent, Canniff mentioned that small businesses are a major opportunity, especially in attracting people from nearby cities.

Meanwhile, Traylor said Chatham-Kent’s waterways are the key.

“I think we should dredge the river. The sand is worth more than a dollar a ton and so is the clay,” said Traylor. “This should create about 50 jobs to start and the kickback should be 7,000 to 10,000 jobs with separating the clay, making glass from the sand, and pottery from the clay.”

In the recent months, a controversial billboard went up in Chatham-Kent. For some people, it brought into question the community’s values. Storey said the situation was unfortunate and Chatham-Kent needs to showcase an inclusive community.

“We do live in a free country and people have a right to express themselves but we also have an obligation as leaders of a community to speak out against hate,” she said. “I believe that message was a hateful message and I did not support it.”

While Atkinson said he wasn’t impressed with the situation either, it is a matter of freedom of speech.

“My opinions and your opinions should be treated equally,” said Atkinson. “I support everyone’s right to freedom in this country.”

The last question of the discussion revolved around infrastructure concerns, Canniff said funding allocated to Chatham-Kent’s infrastructure will eventually need a financial boost.

“We need to come up with creative ways to deal with what we have in terms of the number of dollars we’re putting into it,” said Canniff. “The key piece as well is communication. We need to let the public know why bridges are closed, what’s going on, timelines, etc.”

Election day is on October 22, and polls will be open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. There will be frequent on-air updates on Country 92.9 FM / 630 AM election night. There will also be updates on the BlackburnNews.com social media accounts and website.

Below is the full audio from the broadcasted special “Meet Chatham-Kent’s Mayoral Candidates” program.