- Where have you lived over your lifetime?
- When/where were you born?
- What brought you to/back to Chatham-Kent?
- What are FIVE organizations/boards/initiatives that you are proud to have headed up, or have been a part of?
- What is your educational background?
- What are some of the previous positions IN WHICH YOU HAVE been employed – and have any of them provided you experience that might be relevant to your position as Mayor?
- Why do you want to continue to be (or become) the mayor of Chatham-Kent?
- What do you think of the large 55+ population selling their homes in larger centres and moving to CK?
- How do you think the rise of the senior population in CK will affect municipal service levels?
- What would be one of your main goals you would like to see completed in your 1st term and at the end of a possible second term?
- Many of our CK Senior readers are on a fixed income that is impacted greatly when there is a property tax increase. Will property tax increases continue if you are elected Mayor?
- After graduating from high school, I moved to Waterloo for four years to attend Wilfred Laurier University returning each summer for work. After graduation, my first job took me to London for 10 years, 5 of those spent commuting daily to Chatham before moving here permanently almost 20 years ago.
- In Chatham in 1966 and was raised here as the youngest of six boys in my family.
- The overriding consideration in returning to Chatham-Kent was the search for and finding a place where Christine and I felt we were meant to live, where we belonged. But there actually were three specific things that brought me back to Chatham-Kent. First was work related – Union Gas offered me a position I couldn’t refuse. Second was family. My wife Christine is also a Chatham native and we both were anxious to get back to Chatham-Kent to be nearer to family. Third was also family related. We knew Chatham-Kent would be the perfect place to raise our family. We have four beautiful children who have all benefitted greatly from living and growing up here.
- Co-Chair of the 2018 International Plowing Match:Chair of the Board of Directors of Mainstreet Credit Union, Past Chair of the Board of Entegrus Inc., Chatham-Kent’s Positivity Day and ‘The 12 Days of Positivity’, The Festival of Giving fundraisers
- I graduated from John McGregor Secondary School and holds a degree in business from Wilfred Laurier University. Canniff also received his Chartered Accountant designation, followed by the CPA (US) and most recently the Chartered Director’s designation from McMaster University.
- Experience with a major accounting firm like KPMG right out of university gave me an opportunity to gain insight into what it takes to make organizations both large and small successful and fiscally responsible. During my 20 plus year career at Union Gas, I held increasingly responsible positions that culminated in the positions of Director of Strategic Development and Director of Planning and Forecasting. These two positions provided insight into the advisability of looking longer term when making major decisions and the potential negative fiscal implications of not doing your homework. These roles also provided an opportunity to interact with senior government officials at various levels when seeking government approval or when visioning and constructing partnership opportunities. My current position, as Chief Financial Officer of Transform SSO, provides insight into the challenges that face Ontario’s healthcare system, the collaboration necessary and processes required to develop, and implement initiatives to improve efficiencies. This type of insight would well serve the next mayor and citizens of Chatham-Kent.
- Chatham-Kent has significant untapped potential and, with the right leader, a bright and promising future. Like so many other residents of Chatham-Kent, I have a passion for our community and want to unlock our potential so that we can collectively continue to grow and thrive. As mayor, my mission would be to dedicate myself to building a better community, day by day, piece by piece, to be a cheerleader that represents Chatham-Kent in the best possible light. I want to set priorities and build consensus as part of a municipal team that reacts and responds to the needs of the community. I hope to lead a municipality that is both creative and constructive. I want to hear about things that aren’t working and try to fix them. I want to lead a community that finds ways to make things work rather than making excuses for why they can’t. I believe my formal educational background, career experience in a variety of senior positions and a lifetime dedicated to serving our community has prepared me for this role. I sense that I know Chatham-Kent intimately, what people want and what is needed. Not just from my time on council but through the leadership roles I have taken on over the past two decades, roles dedicated entirely to making Chatham-Kent a more inviting and prosperous place. I want to be mayor because, along with my family, I have dedicated most of my adult life giving back to this community in a variety of ways, albeit on a part time basis. I am now committing myself to championing Chatham-Kent on a full-time basis.
- I am aware that a significant number of new residents in Chatham-Kent fall into this category. It is possible that they discovered what many of us have known all along – Chatham-Kent is a safe, welcoming, and affordable alternative to larger, less connected communities. My sense is that these new 55+ arrivals will add significant vitality to Chatham-Kent for years to come. I say ‘Welcome to Chatham-Kent’.
- We are all aware that a senior tsunami is underway. A maturing population will impact virtually all services that a community provides, from healthcare to housing, from leisure activities to transportation. These all deserve and require close attention by the incoming council to make certain that the necessary resources are in place and to ensure our older adults lead safe, engaged, active and healthy lives now and into the future.
- In my first term, I will establish a Business Advisory Council to provide strategic advice that advances our economic development efforts to bring new jobs to Chatham-Kent, and help identify solutions that overcomes gaps or weaknesses in services being provided. I would like to lead council in making the necessary commitment to a balanced perspective on infrastructure investment to include items such as high speed internet that will make Chatham-Kent attractive to both businesses and families. One project of particular interest to me is the completion of the project to restorate and update the cenotaph. Both my father and grandfather served in the Canadian Armed Forces and commemorating their memories and the service of others is important to me.A second term is a long way off but I would certainly expect to continue my long term commitment to promoting Chatham-Kent and enhancing the quality of life experiences available to all residents. I would also continue to recognize and support our many rural communities as important and essential hubs in Chatham-Kent. Stemming the loss of population that has declined more than 7% over the past number of years will be a primary focus of both terms.
- I understand that CK Senior readers are not the only citizens who watch closely how their tax dollars are spent. However, my experience in finding efficiencies in the roles I executed throughout my career will allow me to contribute invaluable input to the budget process as I work diligently with council to keep taxes as low as possible without reducing services that citizens both need and demand. The key to keeping tax increases to a minimum is to redouble our efforts to bring new jobs and increased prosperity to Chatham-Kent. Success in this endeavour will minimize the tax burden on all of our citizens.
- Chatham-Kent and Toronto for a few years, where I served as a Member of Provincial Parliament.
- Chatham, July 19th, 1959.
- The thing that keeps me here is we actually live in a very prestig community. Where else can you get to a body of water in twenty minutes, and have prime agricultural land. I also think growing up here gives you a different culture and work ethic than if you were born in a larger city. What keeps me here? The passion I have for the community.
- During my tenure, I have served for years as current president, chair and board of director including: President of the Chatham and District Labour Council, CK Police Services Board, Board of Directors of CK Energy, Vice Chair of Southwest Economic Alliance, Chair of the Chatham-Kent Workforce Planning Board
- I graduated from Tilbury District High School in 1978, and also received an honorary diploma from St. Clair College in 2014 in Business Administration – International Business.
- I was a Provincial Member of Parliament and that helped me tremendously because when I had taken over this job, there was no transition – it was swim or sink. It was the relationships, and the respect you got from parliamentarians because you had served there.
- We had laid out a strategy since I took office to get our debt under control and we got our financial house in order. Everybody asks why do you want to continue and it’s because there is still a lot of hard work and heavy lifting to do over the next four years. There are some initiatives that I want to see finished like the new arena, community hubs, bypasses and urban planning. There is a huge agenda in front of us and we need someone with strong leadership abilities to carry them forward. It is an honour and privilege to service this community. There’s a lot more we can do, and it’s not just about me, it’s about a united council that is focused on the same agendas.
- I think it’s great and it’s not only those who are 55+ who are moving to the area. For starters those who want to downsize in Chatham-Kent, it is good for them. We have never seen the housing market go the way it is, and we are seeing the population increase. For those who want to downsize, it creates an opportunity in the market for their homes and not at rock bottom prices. By having new people come from the larger centres, it gives them a real taste of what it’s like to be here and for those 55+ who are selling their homes, it puts money in their pockets, allowing them have a more disposable income available. It’s also the younger ones coming here who are looking for childcare, looking for quality of life and the ability to walk their children to schools in close proximity. It’s about living in a small town but having a big town atmosphere.
- It’s not only municipal, but all services. There will be more volunteers to draw from and more support mechanisms for the services we do provide here. It gives us the opportunity for engagement in more not-for profit organizations to support volunteer work, but it also allows mentoring for small businesses. People are living longer and there will be the issues of medicine and healthcare, where we will have to be mindful of the changes that are needed. It will take convincing of the government that services are not just needed in Windsor and London, but provided in Chatham as well. When we talk about services, it’s not just the social service and the health side of things; it’s about being physically active.
- Nothing can be achieved in isolation, but there are things I would like to see completed, like the arena, the redevelopment of the entertainment district, and the completion of the casino. All these goals integrate – if you say you want to bring economic development, it always has other effects that play into it, whether it is needing more skilled workers or housing. There are some objectives I am trying to achieve like community hubs, which are so essential to me and the arena because I hear it from our young players. It’s always been my goal to put a 401 connection into Charing Cross to move the growth in a different direction. In some other communities, it’s about repositioning the land in a different place to mitigate costs. We need to continue to engage people, continue to promote each of our communities and continue to work with seniors in their endeavours and activities to create a healthier place.
- I like it no better than anyone else, whether it is someone on a fixed income or a working family. The goal is to keep costs to the lowest denomination without threatening services. When someone says they are not going to raise taxes, I’ve seen it when there was a 0% increase and we paid for it the following year. We are in a good spot right now and my goal is to push for new growth and stay above. We have been holding the line and have been keeping operational costs below inflation but unless we have more assessment growth, then there is no choice but to raise taxes.
- Chatham, except when I lived in London and Kingston during university, then Brantford and Toronto for several years while working for the provincial government. Afterwards, I spent 3 years in Italy working for the Department of Foreign Affairs before returning to Chatham over a decade ago.
- At PGH in Chatham in 1975.
- When I finished at the Department of Foreign Affairs I moved back home to Chatham so I could figure out my next steps. Once back home, I got a job at RM Auctions and got involved in different community organizations and this made me realize there was a lot to offer in CK, and a lot I could contribute. I chose to stay because I believe in this community and want to help make it a better place.
- I have been very fortunate to be part of many great organizations across Chatham-Kent. Five of these are: Past President of Rotary Club of Chatham, Founder of Build the Barrier, Spearheaded 2018’s Flood our Community with Love initiative, Founder of Husky History initiative, CK Table volunteer
- A CCI graduate and Ontario Scholar, with a double major in History and Art History from Queen’s University.
- Much of my volunteer and professional experience has prepared me if elected as Mayor of Chatham-Kent. One of the most relevant would be my position as Manager of Culture and Special Events at the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, which I held for close to a decade. I was responsible for a multi-million dollar budget plus a large staff, volunteer team and seven municipal facilities. I am very familiar with municipal day-to-day operations and can hit the ground running day one. On any given day I would be working with different municipal staff, Council, and stakeholders across the community and the Province. Most recently I successfully lobbied the Province to build a concrete median barrier on Highway 401 – which no one had been able to secure for more than 20 years. I know how to get things done and have the track record to prove it. In addition, I have also worked for the provincial government, federal government overseas, was President of the Rotary Club of Chatham from 2016-2017 and most recently as the Donor and Community Relations Coordinator for the Chatham-Kent Hospice.
- I am running for Mayor because I love this community – it made me who I am today. I made a choice to return to Chatham-Kent and contribute in a positive way. I was raised in a family where community service was integral to our lives. My Grandpa Joe Storey, my parents Tom & Cindy and my Uncle Augie Sunnen all were excellent role models of community service that I continue aspire to. I also want to be Mayor of Chatham-Kent because I believe in the citizens and what we can achieve. We are facing tough challenges with job losses and population numbers that continue to decrease. These challenges cannot be solved by just one person, but by sharing our expertise with one another and working together towards a common goal. We need someone who will represent this community professionally and respectfully. Someone with fresh ideas who welcomes different viewpoints in order to achieve the best result. Someone who will embrace transparency, and be open and honest with our fellow citizens. I am that person. I have the right skills and experience to help lead this community into prosperity and success.
- I think this a positive development and I welcome them to Chatham-Kent. This demographic brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm (and retirement income) to contribute to our community. They have expertise and experience to share with service clubs, as volunteers, mentors and so much more. Plus it increases our residential tax base and population, which is very important.
- We need to be aware of the needs of seniors and how to make them feel both welcome and safe in our communities. This includes day-to-day infrastructure like sidewalks and curbs that are smooth and don’t create tripping hazards, updating our website and technology to ensure larger font and readability, and provide meaningful and recreational and cultural activities so they can stay active and engaged. It means that all municipal facilities should be fully accessible. We should also ensure that seniors’ voices are heard and represented around the Council table and on municipal committees. As our senior population grows, our municipality must adapt to that and respect their needs.
- Senior safety and engagement is a big priority for me. Our seniors have a wealth of knowledge in so many areas – I want them to know they are a valued part of our society and their life experiences are important. In partnership with local service clubs to start, I would like Council to consider implementing a mentoring program matching seniors with students as well as those entering the work force for the first time. I would like to continue to lobby for better transportation and communication options. Access to reliable transportation is a big issue in Chatham-Kent, and not just for seniors. We live in a large geographic area making it difficult if you need to get to an appointment in another town and do not have a vehicle or are unable to drive. Taking a pro-active approach to innovative transportation options like ride-sharing services, more responsive hours and routes for public transit are all ways to help our citizens get where they need to be. Access to broadband internet across Chatham-Kent is also a top priority for me. More and more seniors are active online and have embraced the internet for communication, education and more. This is difficult to do without high-speed internet which is still not available in all parts of CK.
- This is an issue that is very important to me. If our population continues to decline, it would be very difficult to avoid an increase in property taxes. The last ten years have been challenging ones for Chatham-Kent. Each year we have fewer taxpayers and fewer businesses paying into the system and shouldering the burden. We need to stop this population loss and create an environment where we welcome newcomers to our community. We need to ensure that while we continue to welcome seniors to our community, we also welcome young families and encourage professionals who are looking to start their career and building their lives in Chatham-Kent. Our seniors helped build this community and we owe it to them to make it a great place for them, their children and grandchildren to live. We do that by listening to each other and working together in a fiscally responsible way. That creates the environment where you can create jobs, achieve success, and keep taxes low because there are more of us sharing the load.
This editorial is written by Sarah Schofield, and it’s content in no way reflects the opinion of Abstract Marketing. Abstract Marketing contacted Sarah as a freelance position, to do interviews for this article which took place prior to all the candidate nominations.
There are now six mayoral candidates, they include:
- Harold Atkinson
- Darrin Canniff
- Randy Hope
- Robert Salvatore Powers
- Alysson Storey
- Allan Robert Traylor
We wish all of the candidates the best of luck in the upcoming election.
Sarah Schofield is a photojournalist, proudly born and raised in Chatham-Kent. Published locally and provincially, Sarah attended Loyalist College’s photojournalism program in 2010. After completing her internship at the Chatham Daily News in 2012, she spent the summer as a reporter for the Dresden-Bothwell Leader-Spirit newspaper, a freelancer and is currently working for The Chatham Voice.
Sarah Schofield | Photojournalist | email@example.com