Lehman is Barrie’s breath of fresh air
Editorial Barrie Examiner October 28
Barrie has a mayor again, or at least it will in early December when Jeff Lehman is sworn in for the 2010-2014 term.
Lehman led from the first poll reported Monday, eventually outdistancing Joe Tascona, Rob Hamilton and Mike Ramsay.
The mayor-elect’s immediate task will be to take the pulse of the successful candidates in Barrie’s 10 wards and find a path to take this city forward. It’s been stuck in neutral for far too long.
Lehman will need to get consensus on important issues like taxation, development, planning, service levels and the other issues which affect the day-to-day lives of city residents.
The last four years must be relegated to the past, where they now belong.
Dave Aspden, the outgoing mayor, never had a chance in this election and finished a distant fifth in the polls. His behaviour as mayor, his attitude toward his own councillors and his inability to lead during the last four years effectively excluded him before he even registered to run again.
Tascona was able to tap into the quiet anger of city voters who believe life here is too expensive. By promising no increase in the municipal portion of property taxes during the next four years, Tascona struck a raw nerve in this election campaign.
That was the point he pounded home time and time again during this campaign, that he would end spending that Barrie homeowners could no longer afford.
But the final tally shows Tascona couldn’t sway enough voters to stop Lehman, the city’s finance committee chairman, who made few brash fiscal promises.
Hamilton ended up as the odd man out in this campaign, through no particular fault of his own. He ran on his record as mayor from 2003 to 2006, and few attacked that record with any success.
His only real mistake four years ago was not taking Aspden seriously, at least until it was too late, and he’s never been able to regain that momentum.
Ramsay, a veteran Barrie councillor, added plenty of edge to the campaign — taking Tascona to task for his spending and work habits as MPP, and attacking Hamilton for his downtown connections. But this negativity didn’t help Ramsay.
Darren Roskam and Harry Ahmed added some colour, not to mention some edge, to the mayors campaign. Carl Hauck was able to add little of either.
Lehman won Monday’s election because he appealed to Barrie voters who want change, but intelligent change.
He didn’t promise things he couldn’t deliver. An economist by profession, Lehman knows what can and can’t be done with tax increases.
He understands that how the city develops its new lands, the former Innisfil property, is key to attracting new industry to Barrie, along with more jobs.
He wants to grow slower and smarter, create a city of neighbourhoods instead of a bedroom community, and pay more than lip service to the idea that politicians need to listen to their constituents.
Lehman is hardly a veteran city councillor, having only served one term on council. But because of the leadership void there, he was one of a handful of councillors who stepped into the breach and helped guide it.
Now he is going to be the leader, and it’s high time Barrie’s mayor filled that role.