Woolwich now has a six-way race for Ward 1 as Patrick Merlihan this week entered the contest.
A co-founder of the Observer and current production manager, Merlihan wants to bring a strong voice to council.
“The township council needs to operate by having a vision and driving the agenda,” he explained. “And how council has operated for at least 12 years has been staff-driven. Staff comes up with whatever kind of project they want to work on and it is automatically rubber stamped. There isn’t a whole lot of vetting of the ideas that come forward. I think there needs to be a whole lot more questions asked of staff before we commit taxpayer dollars to projects where the public sees very little benefit.”
A lifelong Elmira resident, Merlihan believes he is in touch with the issues that matter to the community.
“I think I would make a good councillor because I live in the community and I grew up here,” he said. “With my position here at the Observer, starting a newspaper, I have access to a lot of information and I follow closely what is going on at council and I follow what is going on in all of the different communities in Woolwich.”
He continued, “I think presently there are a lot of people who are angry about this past council. … I think there is a real disconnect between the people who are administering the township and what people actually want to see happen.”
Of chief concern, rising administrative costs that cut into the infrastructure budget.
“The justifications we keep hearing for all of the new (township) staff members is all the new paperwork that has been downloaded by (higher levels) of government,” Merlihan said. “If that is the case, instead of the administrators coming to council saying that they are busy and they need more people, the councillors should be using these conferences that they (attend) to meet with ministers and advocate that some of these policies need to lighten up on the paperwork because it’s costing taxpayers too much.”
He added, “I think the way the business is conducted needs a revisit. We can all retool how we do business. We look at how we operate here at the Observer and we find efficiencies, because if we can do something in less time and save money, let’s do it.”