Council candidate responds to questions posed by citizens in Sept. 19 letter

To the Editor:

First of all I want to say thank you for allowing me the opportunity to answer the following questions as a candidate for City of Thompson councillor.

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As large employers in Thompson are downsizing, and the small business sector has been shrinking, what are your ideas to help Thompson’s economy diversify and grow? 

We need to become a city of choice for those looking to Thompson, both for those seeking work and raising a family. In saying that, we need to embrace and explore opportunity for newcomers to set up a business in Thompson. We will need to have open minds to help business owners with a long-term strategy versus short-term. I believe as a city we will have to not only encourage new business but will need to look for opportunities to expand existing businesses.  I guess the question that comes to mind, is “Why aren’t new businesses coming to Thompson?” I believe in order to answer this question, one would need to understand the internal workings of our economic development committee. This understanding is one of the reasons I am running for city council.

As city revenues will be diminishing with a smaller grant-in-lieu from Vale, what are your ideas for cost-saving measures for the City of Thompson operations and/or new revenues to keep our taxes reasonable and competitive? 

I believe a new council will have to look at all costs to the city and adjust to what our income and expenses are going to be in the future. I also believe that we cannot give up on the fact that the revenue collected by the provincial government and funnelled into the Mining Communities Reserve Fund realistically belongs to cities like Thompson and we need a better effort put forward in lobbying this current government. I believe that small and medium businesses and property owners in Thompson are already paying their share of taxes. So along with the previous answer to question one, we have to identify cost-cutting measures with the new council elect once we understand what is required for revenue to run the city and what is being paid out. There is a definite possibly of cuts required in areas that we can no longer afford without new revenues coming in.

What are your ideas to make city council and city management more accountable to the taxpayer in order to better serve and engage residents? 

We should ensure that we involve the taxpayers in a forum of concern (committee work or public forum) in order to widen the network of ideas to help bring resolution to the issues we are faced with in our city.  I believe that city council and administration have to do a better of job of communicating and involving those taxpayers.  Far too often in the last few years that I have been attending city council meetings, I have observed a lack of communication to the council from the administration or city representatives not attending meetings in order to have the information ready to relay to the public. So, in saying all of that, I believe that when major issues arise or major spending is required we need to involve the taxpayers for their input before, and not after the fact. We have a lot of work going forward and if elected I want to be a part of the solution, and not part of the problem!

Les Ellsworth


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