Woolwich has a fourth contender for Ward 3, with former councillor Murray Martin seeking a return to municipal politics.
The Conestogo resident spent 16 years on council before falling narrowly to Bonnie Bryant, 818 to 681 votes, in the 2010 election.
He joins newcomers Lynne Hare, Lisa Macdonald and Larry Shantz on the ballot in the October 27 election. Bryant is running for mayor against incumbent Todd Cowan and former councillor Sandy Shantz.
Martin says he can bring a level of political experience that was lacking during the previous term.
“New blood is good, from time to time, there is no doubt about that. But last time we had a 75 per cent turnover and in my estimation the last council was weak and they lacked experience. When you have that combination, you have a staff-driven agenda. You could pass a budget without a single question asked. You could hire a new staff member and as long as it is covered off in the budget, it’s done, and not one question is asked.”
He continued, “I’m not sure if (the public’s) voices have been heard either. As a councillor, your job is to bring your constituents’ concerns and their voices to the table. And I have found far too often that hasn’t happened.”
Residents want value for their tax dollars, Martin explained, and public officials need to “spend money like it’s their own,” while showing both restraint and foresight.
“I know when I left four years ago we had a plan for how to deal with infrastructure,” he said. “I don’t know if they followed through with that or not, but we need a good plan to replace our infrastructure, and I am not just talking about planning for the year ahead. We need something that looks five and ten years down the road and we need to stick to it. That’s where our money should be spent.”
A 21-year veteran of the Woolwich Fire Department, Martin grew up the only boy amongst seven children on an Elmira-area farm. That agricultural background is important on council, he said.
“When you talk about our council of the past, 60 per cent of our business was rural-agricultural, and we don’t have a single voice at council that grew up in an agricultural community or grew up on a farm. I feel that is a big voice here that is not being heard.”
Asked what he was most proud of from his prior stint on council, Martin said he wasn’t so much proud as he was “humbled by the fact that the constituents put faith in me, and came back to me every election year.”
When pressed, he listed a number of the infrastructure projects completed during his tenure as gratifying achievements, including the Maryhill and Breslau community centres, the completion of the Woolwich Memorial Centre and the Floradale fire station.