Rod Finnie hopes to return as Mayor of the Town of Erin, saying his experience will help him lead council through major decisions about the community’s future.Finnie, a land surveyor, president of the Rotary Club of Erin and mayor from 2000 to 2010, is running against Allan Alls, a real estate broker and president of East Wellington Community Services. Current Mayor Lou Maieron will not seek re-election as mayor, but may run for the County Council seat.
Potential candidates have until 2 pm on September 12 to register, and the election will take place October 27. Erin voters will receive their ballots by mail and have the option of mailing them in or submitting them in person on election day.
Finnie agrees with Alls that it is important to increase commercial and industrial assessment, to reduce the burden on residential taxpayers. He supports county efforts to bring affordable, reliable high speed internet to rural areas like Erin, as an essential support to business.
He supports moving ahead with further environmental studies after the Servicing and Settlement Master Plan is complete, in hopes of finding a practical way to deal with wastewater.
“I don’t know the answers, but we need the study to find a system that is affordable to the community and not a tax burden. If we don’t put something in place, taxes are going to go through the roof.”
He believes moderate, higher-density development should be encouraged to help young families move to Erin, while finding “creative ways to preserve the charm and the environment.”
He says currently development charges are not out of line, and that the Town cannot offer direct incentives to businesses, but that the Town could be more positive and encouraging – presenting solutions instead of problems.
“It’s a challenging time and an interesting time, and hopefully it will be a rewarding time for the next four years. This is a wonderful place. It’s close enough to the city, and yet it’s remote enough that you feel it’s a community. We’re at a stage in our evolution that the town has an opportunity to become something really special – to create something new.”
While the recent council has had serious problems, Finnie is glad that they have developed a five-year capital budget and a Strategic Plan.
“The Town of Erin has to decide what we want to be, and then we can see what we need to do to get there. It’s going to require everybody doing something. We’ve got a lot of talented people, and we’ve got to make use of those talents because we can’t afford to go out and hire experts to do everything for us.”
He said council could make better use of citizen advisory committees by assigning them specific tasks. He also thinks Erin politicians should stop viewing Wellington County as an enemy and start working cooperatively for mutual prosperity. He said while Erin pays a higher share of county taxes because of its property assessment, no changes are expected to the system and we have to work within it.
He would like to strive for more county investment here, and find a solution to reduce truck traffic on Main Street in Erin village. He supports the Operational Review to increase efficiency, but says it is difficult to cut expenses without cutting services – many of which are required by law.
Finnie was first elected to council in 1997, and chosen as deputy mayor. He was elected mayor in 2000 and was re-elected twice before losing to Lou Maieron in 2010. In 2006, he ran unsuccessfully for the federal Liberals against incumbent MP Michael Chong.
Here are the current council contenders so far, in the order they have registered: Jamie Cheyne, Evelyn McLean, John Brennan, Josie Wintersinger, Rob Smith, George Silva and Jeff Duncan. For county council, the candidates so far are Barb Tocher and Pierre Brianceau.