To pledge or not to pledge
Have you taken the pledge? If not, the Newmarket Taxpayers Advocacy Group (NTAG) encourages voters to visit its website and pledge to do these three things leading up to the Oct. 22 municipal election: understand the issues; research your candidates and; vote.
“We have had great response to our pledge,” NTAG president Teena Bogner said. “We sincerely want to encourage voters to be engaged with the issues and the candidates in this municipal election.”
The local non-partisan advocacy group, which has built a reputation as a scrappy defender of democracy, has a mandate to raise awareness about fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability with Newmarket’s two levels of local government, as well as York Region school boards. In fact, those issues are top of mind leading up to the fall vote, said Bogner.
Just this past February, NTAG uncovered what it says is “unprecedented salary increases” among non-union town staff through a Freedom of Information request.
“It is mind-boggling, that with council’s rhetoric of finding internal cost-saving measures, and doing their best to limit annual property tax increases, that several employees enjoyed a $5,000 to $20,000 increase in salary this year,” Bogner said in a Feb. 16, 2018 media release. “It is truly offensive to the taxpayers that fund this corporation.”
The town defended the salary bumps, saying it has the authority to give increases above established salary levels for exceptional employee performance.
The outspoken group has also criticized the town for its handling of land purchases and capital projects, such as the property known as the Mulock Estate on the northwest corner of Yonge Street and Mulock Drive, the Magna Centre and renovations to the Old Town Hall.
One of the group’s founding members, Newmarket resident Darryl Wolk, said what’s hitting people hard here is the cost of living.
“Some of our politicians have lost touch with what it’s like to struggle to live in an expensive community like Newmarket,” he said. “Young people are coming out of university with huge amounts of debt, people are struggling in precarious employment and everywhere we turn we’re faced with increasing costs of living.”
On this day, Bogner wholeheartedly supports the town’s efforts to increase voter turnout and engagement with its move to vote by internet, cellphone, iPad and telephone.
To help engage citizens, NTAG sent a questionnaire about issues raised by residents to all candidates for regional councillor, ward councillor, York Region District School Board and York Catholic District School Board trustee candidates. Bogner expects to post the unedited responses within a week on its website, Facebook and Twitter accounts.
For more information on the group’s election activities, including a Q & A session with mayoral candidates for its members, and more, visit here.
Catch up with the group and sign the pledge Saturday, Sept. 22 at the Farmers Market at Riverwalk Commons. If you’re interested in joining, it’s $50 a year for a business membership and $20 for individuals.
Ready, set, debate!
The Newmarket Chamber of Commerce is hosting a public election debate Sept. 26 for candidates vying for the town’s top two posts: mayor and regional councillor.
Candidates for ward councillors will participate in a meet-and-greet with guests prior to the debate in an open-house format, which kicks off at 6:30 p.m. The debate portion of the evening gets underway at 6:45 p.m.
The chamber hopes for an evening of robust discussion about the future of Newmarket. Mark your calendar for Wed., Sept. 26 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at Newmarket Theatre, 505 Pickering Cr.
The list of certified and acclaimed candidates can be found here
For more information on the chamber debate, visit here
Meet & Greet
If you have questions or concerns about education and school life, you can meet with Newmarket public school trustee candidate Bessie Vlasis tomorrow, Sept. 12, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at A Hui Hou Coffee Shop (formerly Books Cafe & Things), 208 Main St. S. Can’t make it? Contact Vlasis at [email protected], visit here, or call 416-420-2606.
Canvass and a barbecue, anyone?
Ward 1 councillor candidate Grace Simon hosts a door-to-door canvassing event billed as One Voice, One Community. It happens on Sunday, Sept. 16 from 2 to 4 p.m., followed by a free barbecue at 4:30 p.m. at Copper Hills, Frank Stronach Park, 500 Memorial Circle.
The Newmarket Election Notebook is a regular feature that will run until the Oct. 22 municipal election. News, events and stories from the campaign trail are welcome at [email protected]