The origins of business service reviews in Guelph created a heated exchange between the two mayoral candidates at the Chamber of Commerce debate on Monday night.
Incumbent Cam Guthrie took several opportunities to remind the audience packed into the council chamber at city hall that service reviews, including ones on waste management and Guelph Transit, were started under his leadership.
“That is something I’m really proud of implementing here,” Guthrie said and added that they keep property taxes down. “If we don’t look at continuing the service reviews then we’re not being respectful to the taxpayers’ dollars to begin with.”
But his only challenger for the mayor’s seat, Aggie Mlynarz, pointed out that service reviews were brought in before Guthrie was elected.
“Service reviews are nothing new to this city,” she said.
“A number of them were implemented in the previous administration and certainly they have been worked on continuously and improved, but they are not a new portion at all in how we run the operations here.”
She also listed off service reviews that were presented to city council between 2009 and 2012.
BELOW: Cam Guthrie and Aggie Mlynarz meet for Guelph mayoral debate at city hall
In response, Guthrie said Mlynarz’s notion was incorrect and said the service review policy and framework is new in the way that they are being done now.
He said the service reviews that were tried under the previous administration never went anywhere.
“There was about two years of work trying get that started in the manner in which it is now implemented under my watch,” Guthrie said.
“It is only under this framework that has been approved by council under my leadership that is asking the tough questions that service reviews are supposed to ask to be respectful to the taxpayers’ dollars.”
The two candidates fielded 20 questions from the moderator, Guelph Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Kithio Mwanzia, during the 90-minute debate.
Guthrie said Guelph is on the right track and pointed to a 2017 IPSOS survey on citizen satisfaction which showed 97 per cent of residents rated overall quality of life in the city as good or very good.
“The reality is the city hall work is never really done. We can and must always strive to do better,” he said.
Mlynarz described herself as a different kind of candidate, but said she represents the 25- to 35-year-old who is tired of not seeing themselves represented.
The debate ended with a parting shot from Mlynarz to Guthrie.
“Mr. Guthrie’s actions of consolidating power, claiming the work of previous administrations as one’s own campaigning on an agenda of one of 13 are all indications to me of poor leadership,” she said.
Voters will go to the polls on Oct. 22.
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