The Ridgetown Independent has reached out to each candidate running for a position in the upcoming municipal election. Included down below are the questions asked, as well as the answers provided by the candidates.
Name: Andy Fisher
Address: Chatham, Ontario
Occupation: Truck Driver
Tell me a bit about your home life, e.g. married) how many years, how many kids, grandkids, how long have you lived in the area, where you work, hobbies, etc.
Single with no kids, I’ve lived in Chatham-Kent my entire life; I work for a food service/trucking company; my hobbies include bodybuilding, hockey (ball, inline, ice), video games, and I enjoy designing things (Not to brag but I think I have the best election signs -- ha ha)
Community involvement: I run a ball hockey team in the CKRHL called the Outlaws. I used to volunteer for Meals On Wheels in Chatham but haven’t for a few years now.
Past political or other experience you feel may be beneficial?
Several years in security work have helped me to have a better understanding of the word “thick skin” and also improved my attentive listing skills. This is also part of why I fell in love with serving the public; I had fun helping people within these jobs.
Why have you decided to run for a position in the upcoming election?
I feel that it’s been a while since Chatham-Kent has had solid leadership. I want the people of CK to have absolute confidence that their city council will work for them and not throw their money around as if it weren’t earned through hard work.
What was the one issue that prompted you to enter?
I can’t really say there’s only one; there have been several decisions made by the current administration that made me raise an eyebrow. I feel the majority of Chathamites would agree with me that we need a change of leadership. Public input should and always will matter on my watch.
What are the top three issues facing Chatham-Kent?
The top three, according to the members of the public that I’ve heard from, and also in my own opinion, are the mall project, the homeless crisis, and the deforestation of CK.
If you could change one thing in Chatham-Kent, what would it be and why?
Transparency. I have no idea where my hard-earned tax dollars go, why my property taxes were raised twice in one term, or why city council felt the need to give themselves two raises in one term. The general public should have at least some idea as to where their money is being spent and why; this doesn’t seem to be easily accessible information.
What do you believe to be the one most pressing concern to the business community in rural Chatham Kent?
I would say exposure. It seems like the majority of announcements are about the city of Chatham itself and not as much about the surrounding small towns, which are just as important.
Do you feel it is important to keep facilities such as the library, municipal offices and arena available in rural areas?
100% Growing up in Highgate, I fully understand how important it is to keep public facilities available to smaller towns. I grew up poor, and for the longest time, I can remember, the computers (and by computers, I mean 2) at the tiny Highgate Library were the only internet access I had!
Do you feel there is waste in the municipal budget? If so, please cite specific areas where you would reduce funding.
There is absolutely waste within the municipal budget, however, there is currently an ongoing investigation regarding this, so I cannot comment on that. I cannot cite a specific area to reduce funding as of yet, but if elected, I will be going over the budget line for line and making my findings and suggestions known to the public.
What do you hope to accomplish as mayor and head of council?
Right now, a lot of people consider Chatham-Kent to be a “retirement community”; there aren’t many direct entry jobs that pay above $20 an hour, and therefore most people I know (myself included) commute outside Chatham-Kent for work. I do not wish to move elsewhere, nor do many people I know, so the only other option is to bring the things found in other major municipalities here to ours. I want to bring better-paying jobs, more sources of entertainment, and more affordable housing to Chatham-Kent. I also want the city to be more presentable. There are streets in CK that seem to be left alone every year; weeds are overgrown, the grass is overgrown, and many roads are cracked and broken or, in some cases, lack proper sidewalks. You do not see many streets like this in other municipalities, and it’s not a good look, especially when trying to attract big companies to come here for better job options.
What is your vision for Chatham Kent in the next four years? Long term?
I want Chatham-Kent to thrive again. My vision for the next four years is a series of moves to make CK a more desired and sought-after place to live, starting with higher-paying jobs, more affordable housing, and more major sources of entertainment. I want to bring financial stability to the municipality so that more major companies will be willing to invest big dollars to operate here. My long-term goal, if elected and then re-elected would be to propel Chatham-Kent into a similar direction as other municipalities surrounding us have, more things to do, more major events, major growth, and to stop taxing property owners to death in order to make up for poor financial decisions.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News