Many faces in mayoral race

Mayoral candidates talk to the Journal’s Jake Edmiston about Kingston, Fauxcoming and Town-Gown relations

Barrie Chalmers
Barrie Chalmers
John Gerretsen
John Gerretsen
John Last
John Last
Kevin Lavalley
Kevin Lavalley
Rob Matheson
Rob Matheson
Nathan Wilson
Nathan Wilson

Barrie Chalmers

Barrie Chalmers has owned and operated a local automotive sales and service business in Kingston for 20 years.

“I’m not a politician, I’m a business man,” he said. “I believe the city should be run like a business and the accountability and transparency should be there.”

The Kingston native said more career opportunities need to be created to retain more of the students the city supports.

“We produce a lot of very well-educated people,” he said. “We need to respect that and try and provide jobs in this city to hold on to these students.”

Chalmers said the Aberdeen Street party is the root cause of strained relations between students and Kingstonians.

“It’s all you hear about a month before and a month or so after,” he said. “It just harps on the same old thing. If we figured out a solution to this problem between all involved then people for a month before that party and a month after won’t be bitching about Queen’s.”

Chalmers said he believes a solution to the issue will come from roundtable discussion between Kingstonians, student union representatives and city officials .

“[Students] do so much for this city but when it comes to one activity they get crucified,” he said. “If we could rectify that one situation that gives citizens a bad taste ... it’s unbelievable what we could accomplish.”

Barrie Chalmers’ full platform is available at barriechalmers.com

Mark Gerretsen

Mark Gerretsen is the city councillor for the Portsmouth district. He owns Gerretsen Properties, a company that operates several student and permanent residential housing, including homes in the Queen’s student Ghetto.

He started the business 15 years ago after buying and renovating a property.

“I consider myself one of the good landlords,” he said. “As Queen’s students know, there’s some places that are real dives and others that aren’t.

“You will always have five or 10 per cent that are the bad apples that will bring the reputation down for everyone.”

Gerretsen put forward a motion to city council last month proposing a committee mandated to “get students more engaged in the community.”

He said the committee will include students, non-student residents, bylaw officers, police, city councillors and University officials.

“We don’t [currently] have that open line of communication,” he said, adding that as mayor he would conduct regular meetings with the AMS and the St. Lawrence student association.

“I’m committed to [the committee]. By bringing everyone together for monthly meetings we can figure out what’s going to work best and not from the top looking down.”

Gerretsen said one of his goals would be to engage Kingston citizens with social media, including Facebook and Twitter accounts for the Mayor’s office.

Mark Gerretsen’s full platform is available at markgerretsen.com

John Last

“Youth voter turnout is abysmally low, especially among students and Queen’s students,” said John Last who graduated from Kingston’s Loyalist Collegiate Vocational Institute three years ago.

He and two friends from high school are each running for Mayor.

“We decided if there were three young people running for mayor in the most ridiculous fashion possible, maybe people would start to be entertained by municipal politics and actually vote,” he said.

The 19-year-old said the Queen’s student body has the potential to drastically impact the outcome of this month’s municipal election.

“It doesn’t matter that the Queen’s Ghetto is literally falling down, because young people aren’t voting,” he said. “The people that run the mainstream media in Kingston and the people who decide what the issues are are all of an older generation.

“Only 39,000 people voted in the last municipal election. So if every Queen’s student voted that could change the outcome of the election. They could turn this into a young person’s paradise.”

He said he views his role in the mayoral race as “a monkey wrench” in the proceedings.

“[The other candidates] aren’t the most interesting of people,” he said. “If you get them in the spotlight and make them dance a bit it might be more interesting for the people at home.”

Last said when he’s been involved in discussions, local politicians change their tone.

“We’re running in the most in their face way because otherwise it’s just so much easier to ignore us,” he said. “In our TV Cogeco debate you can see they were catering to us. Everytime we suggested an idea [the other candidates] jump on it and say ‘that’s a great idea’. But the night before at the Sydenham district meeting they were trashing students.”

John Last’s full platform is available at runthistown.ca

Kavin Lavalley

Kevin Lavalley said he’s not a joke vote.

“We’ve been constantly combating the idea that we’re joke candidates,” Lavelly, a part-time Queen’s student in his first year said. “If any of us [the three youth candidates] are voted in we’ll take the job. We want people to vote for us because they think we’re right for mayor.”

Lavalley said he and his two friends, Last and Nathan Wilson, are running as separate candidates to draw more attention to youth issues.

He said each youth candidate has a different platform to maximize the air-time youth issues receive in the mayoral race.

“We want the issues to be at the forefront,” Lavalley said. “Because we’re trying to get the issues across, we need to make a spectacle ... I’m expecting to turn some heads.”

Lavalley said he’d attempt expansion of Kingston’s airport as well as the implementation of an inspection agency responsible for ensuring student housing is up to code.

“Up to this point, reporting housing [not in compliance with city codes] has been at the behest of the people living in the homes,” he said. “An inspection agency would ensure homeowners are on their toes.”

Kevin Lavalley’s full platform is available at runthistown.ca

Rob Matheson

Rob Matheson is the city councillor for the Loyalist-Cataraqui district.

Matheson was born in Tanzania to Canadian diplomat parents, raised in Quebec, Turkey, France, Belgium and Greece. He moved to Kingston 13 years ago.

He said Town-Gown relations are strained for two reasons.

“One being student housing and second being Aberdeen obviously, which continues to be a thorn in all our sides,” he said, adding that Kingston can solve Aberdeen problem by offering an alternative venue as a gesture to students.

“I see it as a carrot and stick approach,” he said. “You provide a good welcome to students, perhaps opening up the K-Rock centre to a nice activity for students to attend as a welcome to our city.”

He said everyone “contributing to mayhem” of Fauxcoming needs to be addressed individually, including the young people involved in the party who don’t have any Queen’s affiliation.

“We can’t put up with any lawlessness and need to target those particular students that are causing the problems,” he said. “At the same time our police have to abide by the laws we have as well.” “I’ve heard a number of concerns since Aberdeen that the police weren’t necessarily proactive and lawful themselves in the way they were behaving. We’ve got to take those concerns and address them seriously.”

Matheson said he doesn’t condone the current city council practice of relying on outside consultants to make decisions.

“The tail is wagging the dog in this city,” he said. “We need to be listening to citizen input ... and not tossing it aside because a consultant says otherwise.”

Rob Matheson’s full platform is available at robforthejob.com

Nathan Wilson

Nathan Wilson’s friend had a family of bats living in the basement of his Student Ghetto house.

It inspired Wilson to join the mayoral race.

“His shower didn’t work,” he said. “There were holes in the windows.”

The 20 year-old Kingston resident was the grade 11 representative on his Loyalist Collegiate Vocational Institute student council but his political ambitions have since grown.

“I want to bring some of the youth issues to the front of the debates,” he said, adding that he decided to run separately from Lavalley and Last because their full-time jobs make it difficult for each one to be present at debates and events.

“It made more sense to run separately because we could tackle more areas,” he said. “We can always make sure each of us are at events promoting youth issues.”

Wilson said he’s interested in implementing a free recycling service for downtown businesses to encourage more businesses to move into the area.

“I want to revitalize the downtown area for young people,” he said, adding that several downtown business owners told him they spend around $5,000 annually on recycling. Wilson said he and his two colleagues have been surprised at how well they’ve been received by the community.

“We expected a lot of resistance but we haven’t gotten as much as we thought,” he said.

Nathan Wilson’s full platform is available atrunthistown.ca

The AMS is hosting a mayoral candidates debate on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Grant Hall.

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