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Affordable housing top concern for Midland hopeful Sheldon East

In Governance
Oct 1st, 2022
Sheldon East is running for Midland council. |
From MidlandToday, September 15, 2022

Editor’s note: MidlandToday has asked council candidates in Midland, Penetanguishene and Tiny Township to provide a synopsis of why they are running for public office. Municipal elections take place Oct. 24.

The following response is from Sheldon East, who is running for council in Midland. For more election coverage, visit our 2022 municipal election page by clicking here, where you can find candidate profiles and other election news.

What is your name, what will be your age on election day, and who are your key immediate family members you rely on for support?

My name is Sheldon East. I’m 45 years old and I rely on my entire family, friends and customers for support.

In 10 words or less, why is your municipality the best in the province?

Midland is the best municipality in the world because we are truly a community that comes together in times of need with compassion, kindness and generosity.

What prompted you to run as a municipal leader?

I decided to run for town council because I want to be a bridge between council to bring us together so that we can get moving on important Midland matters, representing Midland area residents, local small business owners, struggling parents and elderly trying to survive.

Midland Bay Landing is mired in controversy, involving contaminated land, residents wanting to protect parkland, developer visions for the future, and the municipality’s choice for that developer. What is your stance on Midland Bay Landing?

Midland Bay Landing is a heavy decision which I don’t have a stance on yet. There is a lot of misleading information out there. Until I can actually sit down with council to get the honest facts, there will be no stance. There’s both pros and cons which need to be addressed, but most of all,  they all must be heard, in an honest format where everyone must look at the pros and cons… not just one-sided views, based on entitlement.

The decision is too heavy to base a decision on unreliable sources. And many people running in this election are throwing around misinformation to buy votes. My knowledge of Midland Bay Landing at this point is nonfactual.

You will be asked to join committees and other municipal representations. Which are you eager to become involved in?

I intend to sit on the OPP committee. I want to be able to represent both Midland area residents concerns and also be a bridge to the OPP to help serve our community more efficiently.

Voter apathy is always a concern, ranging between 25.7% to 42% of ballots cast across North Simcoe in the last municipal election. Knowing you could be elected without even half of possible voters turning out, what will you do to combat voter apathy so your municipality is best represented?

To balance voter apathy, I intend to do my very best to hear Midland (residents) so that they have a voice to be heard. Even though I can’t make every one happy, the least we can offer is to be heard. Then maybe the wheels can begin turning to a positive balance. Although I’ve decided to never engage in social media threads, I’ll make myself available in-person or through email.

There are many prominent concerns ongoing in the region, from affordable housing to the opioid epidemic to short-term rentals as well as others. What is one concern that you think the majority of residents are not aware of?

Affordable housing is the most important platform for me. There are single mothers, single fathers, entire families and elderly desperately seeking shelter since the landslide of a housing crisis. To no fault of their own, elderly that have worked hard their entire lives, and gave back to their community, are now sitting alone in hotels. Innocent families have been thrown into hotels or on the streets, due to a housing market that left them unable to afford housing. This is a must, that we need to attend to immediately.

Not a “tomorrow down the road” fix-it situation, it’s a today situation. We need to respond to this immediately, once we fix the housing crisis, we can start getting families and the elderly back on their feet.

The province is planning for a population of 555,000 and 198,000 jobs by 2051. If now is the time to prepare for that influx, what will you proactively do as your part in the process?

As for population increases, we need housing, we need to fill the empty factories with great paying jobs. We need to build more stores, more restaurants, so that we can employ more of our residents. Giving opportunities to people to chase their dreams of not only being employed but self employed. Creating more sustainable balanced living.

Recidivism isn’t just on the police and courts. As a municipal leader and crafter of bylaws, what initiatives will you undertake to address crime in your care?

Recidivism is a hard topic to battle. Until the federal government becomes tough on crime, instead of a turn-door justice system, where as criminals break the law and get out almost immediately, back out on our streets, it will be a challenge. Our police officers are constantly deflated as they’re doing their jobs, diligently. Unfortunately the day, or hours after they arrest someone, they’re back on the streets.As they know, the current justice system favours the criminals.

Midland, in particular, has a unique challenge, a superjail and a Mental Health Centre, where families move up here to be closer to inmates, then finding themselves relocated here. We never had the police funding to balance this influx as well as creating the perfect marketplace for addiction and criminals. No housing – Drugs – Mental Health – Streets – Drugs, the perfect marketplace, the perfect storm for criminals.

The truth is we need harder and stricter courts.

Is the answer hiring stricter judges? One thing’s for sure, on a provincial and federal level we need more funding to hire more police officers to help relieve our already tired and run-down police officers.

On a municipal level, I strongly feel that if we can provide shelter, a home to build a future, and better paying jobs, we can help people break the cycle of this lifestyle.

Infrastructure projects require taxpayer dollars. What infrastructure project does the municipality desperately need, and does it justify a tax increase from the ratepayers to have it done as soon as possible?

Most important is affordable housing, creating partnerships with local developers and local contractors so that we can get to building housing immediately. Upgrading the sewer facility will be the next challenge Midland will need to attend to. Yes that will involve a tax increase, that’s inevitable.

Times change. What is the most aged or obsolete bylaw in your municipality’s code?

Bylaws are something brought to the municipal table by councillors, and every councillor will bring a different facet, a different view. I will be open to listening, bringing forth suggestions, exploring the ideas and views of other’s advice, but I will be listening to our public to hear their worries or frustrations, so that they can be heard and brought to the council table.

Once you complete your four-year term, what is the legacy you want residents to best remember for your time in office?

If our community votes for me, at the end of the four- year term I hope to be remembered by trying to do my best for a town I absolutely love. Doing my very best to hear people, so that they can use me to be their voice. I know you can’t make everyone happy, but they can be heard.

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