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Newmarket Election Notebook: candidate cries foul, food for thought, dos & don'ts of voting responsibly

Did you know that a member of the Town's Election Street Team will come to your home to help you vote online, on your mobile device, or by telephone in Newmarket's first digital election?
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Candidate cries foul over 'loaded' town hall questions

Regional councillor and deputy mayor candidate Chris Emanuel released the results of his telephone town hall Oct. 13, the first day of voting in Newmarket’s digital election.

More than 2,500 residents participated in the radio talk show-style conference call, Emanuel said. Throughout the hour-long session, local property taxes rose to the forefront as a key concern, particularly among those who answered a specific interactive poll question, he said.

When surveyed about the most important issue in this municipal election, 48 per cent of listeners cited property taxes. Twenty-one per cent said infrastructure investment, while traffic, the environment, recreation and culture all clocked in at less than 10 per cent.

“Residents have expressed to me that they want to continue to see our progress as a town, but they want to ensure Newmarket remains an affordable place to live,” Emanuel said. “People want to see balance and ensure they are getting good value for their property taxes.”

Another poll question ruffled the feathers of regional councillor and deputy mayor challenger Tom Vegh, about whom the question took aim. It said: Chris Emanuel has proposed a fully costed budget plan that caps tax increases to not exceed cost of living. Whereas the promises made by his opponent, Tom Vegh, could raise property taxes approximately 40 per cent.

Emanuel reports that 93 per cent of respondents opposed Vegh’s election plan that, as estimated by Emanuel himself, could increase property taxes by 40 per cent.

“It’s fear-mongering and it’s absolutely untrue,” Vegh told NewmarketToday. “I’m a fiscal conservative with a 15-year track record of limiting taxes to the cost of living.”

Vegh said the question is so “loaded”, he’s surprised the response was not 100 per cent.

“It’s like he’s saying to people, ‘Do you want free-range chickens running up and down Main Street? No? I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen’,” Vegh said.

For example, Vegh said, his campaign platform to increase subsidies for seniors’ housing, speed up the building of community splash pads, and build a new library and seniors’ centre have “zero impact” on property taxes.

“The money for seniors’ housing comes from the provincial and federal governments, funding for the splash pads has already been collected from development fees and directed toward the splash pads, and the same with building a new library on the Hollingsworth Arena site. That money also comes from development charges, not from taxpayers,” Vegh said.

Regional councillor and deputy mayor candidate Joan Stonehocker said that while a telephone town hall is an interesting idea, she is not planning one as she is operating on a limited campaign budget.

“For instance, I did not order small campaign yard signs as I had to decide where my limited funds would have the most impact,” she said.

Three candidates are vying for the regional councillor and deputy mayor position in the Oct. 22 municipal election. They are, in alphabetical order: Chris EmanuelJoan Stonehocker, and Tom Vegh.

Voting in the 2018 Newmarket municipal election began Oct. 13 at 10 a.m. and continues until Oct. 22 at 8 p.m. Residents are voting for the first time electronically, either online, with a mobile device or by telephone.

To learn more about the candidates, their platforms, and to compare their answers to NewmarketToday's questionnaire, visit our special election site here

For additional information on voting, visit the Town’s election website.

Food for thought

Regional councillor and deputy mayor candidate Joan Stonehocker wrote in to explain her participation in the Oct. 5 protest that saw representatives from the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Fight for $15 and Fairness group confront Newmarket-Aurora MPP and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott in Aurora as she made her way into a local joint chambers of commerce event. Stonehocker said day and night work commitments prevented her from commenting on that original story before publication.

“As executive director of York Region Food Network, a large part of my work is education about the need for people to have adequate incomes so that they can afford to buy food,” she said. “There is a research project based at the University of Toronto called PROOF that has identified increased income as a necessary part of the solution to the complex problem of why people are hungry in our communities.

“Other important interventions are affordable housing, access to affordable childcare and adequate social assistance rates. The PROOF team have also studied and reported on the dire impacts of food insecurity on mental and long-term health. Increases in the minimum wage are an important part of reducing food insecurity and improving public health. That is why I was standing with the group fighting for $15 and fairness.”

Dos & Dont's of voting responsibly

You’ve likely seen plenty of news stories today on the dos and don’ts of legal cannabis, as the Ontario Cannabis Store (ocs.ca) officially launched and began to take orders for delivery.

But take a break from all that huffing and puffing to check out these 10 dos and don’ts for voting responsibly in Newmarket’s 2018 municipal election, courtesy of the Town’s election team.

Do

  • Call the Election Helpline at 905-953-5121 to book an appointment for you or someone you know who needs help to vote at home. A member of the Election Street Team will come to you.
  • Visit Vote Newmarket or speak to a customer service associate in-person at any one of the following facilities during regular business hours to add yourself to the Municipal Voters List if you haven't already received your voter instruction letter in the mail: Municipal Offices (395 Mulock Dr.), Magna Centre (800 Mulock Dr.), Ray Twinney Recreation Complex (100 Eagle St. W.), and Newmarket Public Library (438 Park Ave.).
  • Contact the Election Helpline at 905-953-5121 if you need to remove a voter from your address, such as a child who has moved out, or a previous homeowner.
  • Say something if you see something suspicious.
  • Contact the Election Helpline at 905-953-5121 immediately if you are asked to share, or if you lose your voting PIN. If lost, your old PIN will be deactivated and you will be issued a new one.​​​​​​

Don't

  • Open mail that isn't addressed to you and do not vote using a voting PIN that is not yours. These are both convictable offences and can result in a fine and/or jail time.
  • Share your voting PIN – it’s unique to you. Municipal staff, candidates and law enforcement officials should never ask you for it.
  • Vote more than once, no matter how many properties you own or rent.
  • Post a photo or selfie with your ballot on social media or elsewhere – it’s illegal.
  • Use a candidate’s mobile device/tablet to vote or share proof of whom you voted for.



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Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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