OPINION

Parry Sound residents will be choosing their mayor from a slate of three very different candidates.

That’s the conclusion I drew after watching the Mayoral Debate on YourTV Muskoka last week.

Former Parry Sound town councillor Dave Williams and local businessman Chris O’Gram are challenging incumbent Jamie McGarvey for the mayor’s seat in the upcoming municipal election on October 22nd.

I’ll begin with ambition and first-time candidate Chris O’Gram.

He appeared honest and well-intentioned however his inexperience prevented him from commenting or taking a position on a number of topics including relationships with surrounding municipalities and opting in on private cannabis sales in Parry Sound only to say he needed more information.

His A-B-C approach to accountability, having a business plan, and caring (no voter will be left out) is a good one but the lacked some specifics of how he was going to achieve those goals.

He was firm in his opinion that a 0% tax increase policy is not feasible if the town was to keep a balanced budget citing rising interest rates and inflation.

Emotion and reality checks probably best describe the exchanges between Dave Williams and Jamie McGarvey.

The former councillor continued with his criticisms of the mayor that began two days before at the all candidates meeting at the Bobby Orr Community Centre.

Most of these criticisms expressed by Williams were in generalities saying the mayor was ineffectual as a leader during his 33 years of public service and that if he were elected mayor he would know how to get things done.

The bulk of Williams’s platform is centred around the reduction of taxes and municipal fees to boost property values and housing affordability.

McGarvey countered by challenging Williams’s attendance record while he served on the board of the Parry Sound Area Chamber of Commerce, and provided firm positions on opting in on the private sale of cannabis, and working with neighbouring municipalities to create a better and more prosperous community.

At the end of the debate, moderator Melissa Candelaria asked all three candidates what would be their first priority if they were elected into office.

For Chris O’Gram, it would be going into the town’s works yard and cleaning up any derelict vehicles to save on operating costs.

Jamie McGarvey said his first priority is to swear in the new council followed by preparing the town for legalized marijuana and working on the 2019 budget.

Dave Williams’s first order of business would be to direct staff to work with volunteers to resurrect the Sport Bike Rally and reformat the budget to save taxes.

The best way to get a real look at these mayoral candidates is to watch the debate for yourself at YourTV Muskoka and form your own opinion.

It’s well worth it!