John Gallagher, Candidate for Ward 7 in Hamilton Municipal Election 2010
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Candidate Details (top)
|Hamilton Municipal Election 2010
|Mary and John were married in March 1990. Back then, John was the Ward 7 councillor on Hamilton City Council and the old Regional government before amalgamation was forced on us by the Mike Harris Tories at Queens Park in Toronto. John was first elected in 1985 and served two terms on city council, ending in December 1991.
Mary, when she and John first met, was a stenographer in the office of former Regional Chairman Bill Sears. Mary moved to the Regional clerks office. When Hamilton was amalgamated with the five suburban municipalities a decade ago, Mary moved to the new city of Hamilton clerks office. Mary, because of her hard work and dedication to clerking, has been promoted to Deputy Clerk of the City of Hamilton.
John has lived on the mountain and in Ward 7 for more than fourty years. Born in Hamilton at the Hamilton General Hospital, John's roots are typical Hamilton blue-collar. A graduate of a community college with a barbering licence, John worked for several barber and hairstyling shops in the city, eventually opening his own successful shops, where he learned to build and manage a successful small business.
"The values I learned in the real small business world prepared me for making the hard decisions our politicians all to often shy away from," John says. "Good politics is often bad government," John added, I tried to always stay true to good business practices when I was on council. That made me a target of big spending politicians. I'm looking forward to taking them on again."
Responses to Questions (top)
|Council is poised to vote on the Airport Employment Growth District, a 3,000 acre plan to expand the urban boundary around Hamilton International Airport for employment lands. Do you support this plan? Why or why not?
|I am in favour of expanded employment lands around the Airport. But this growth must be accomplished while considerate of the impact on the local community. The airport is one of our major business and commercial expansion opportunities, and, while my first priority is to remediate and return Brownfields to productive, taxpaying property, we must also be considerate of and pursue opportunities to grow our business/commercial tax base that requires close proximity to the airport.
|Many observers argue that Council meetings could be more respectful and professional. Do you agree? If so, what will you do to change this?
|The public perception that city council is dysfunctional is a very real problem and must be corrected. The Mayor or committee chairs seem unable to check bickering, overtalking and generally impolite behaviour by our elected councillors.
Restoring cohesive, functional and productive debate to city council meetings will require council members (veteran and new) to learn and understand the Rules of Order council has adopted for the conduct of meetings. And, most importantly each and every Councillor must respect the Rules of Order and obey them without fail.
I would begin by requiring every person elected to council this term to study and be tested on their knowledge of the Rules of Order. It would be preferable to obtain the services of an experienced professor or other expert in the history of parliamentary Rules of Order to package a study course on the subject, instruct the councillors on the course material and test each Councillor to confirm that they have indeed become schooled in city council's Rules of Order.
Finally, I propose that the Mayor and/or committee chair be seated on a platform slightly higher than the other seats at the council/committee meeting in order to clearly establish the authority held by the person chairing a meeting. And, I would require a speaker, once recognized by the chairwoman or chairman as "having the floor" to stand in their place to address the meeting.
A raised chairman/chairwoman and a speaker standing to address a gathering while others present are seated is an ancient, effective and proven technique to establish the authority of a meeting leader or speaker. A respectful meeting decorum is more likely if meetings are conducted as described herein.
At least it would be a beginning.
|Do you support Hamilton's LRT proposal? If so, what will you do to ensure Hamilton's success in building LRT? If not, why do you oppose it?
|I am in support of the LRT. It is imperative that city council and the Province not drop the ball on this one. Twenty-five years ago - or so - the city was offered and elevated rail system from downtown to the mountain and then on to the airport. The council and provincial reps at the time failed this community terribly in letting that electric train slip through our fingers. If I am elected I will push as hard as I can to get the LRT approved and up and running as soon as is possible.
|The City of Hamilton has committed to doubling transit ridership by 2020. Do you support this goal? If so, how would you realize it?
|If elected, I will move to convince city council to conduct an immediate review of all costs related to the collection and management of fares paid by transit users. The purpose of this review will be to confirm that there is a net surplus of income from paid transit fares.
It is my belief that transit should be deemed an essential service and every reasonable effort should be made to offer transit services on the same principles our government uses to justify all other essential services such as police, fire etc. There are myriad tangible and not-so-obvious benefits accrued to a municipality that acknowledges that every citizen has a right to access transit system, regardless of status or ability to pay.
I look forward to working with council and other interested stakeholders to make our transit system available to all citizens.
|Some cities have committed recently to publishing their public data in an open format that citizens can directly access. Should Hamilton pledge to become an "open source city"? Why or why not?
|Open government must be accomplished if we are to have honest, accountable government. I am enthusiastically in favour of the goals sought by the Open Source City program. I have proposed that all stakeholders get together (political/citizen/media) after the election to attempt to find common ground on a made in Hamilton Access to Information policy. Current freedom to information policy works in reverse and is undemocratic. I will make every effort to open our government to the general public, while taking care not to harm taxpayers by premature disclosure.
|Is Hamilton doing enough to support and encourage new investment in our older neighbourhoods? If not, what should the City be doing?
|It has become clearly apparent that the programs in place have failed to inspire Brownfield cleanup and to return them to productive properties has been a disappointing failure. As for our older, established neighborhoods, the high taxes, fees for service and other charges Hamilton imposes on property/business development discourages investment of any kind.
If elected, I will ask city council to explore ways to mitigate those high costs and, where possible, provide realistic financial incentives to encourage new investment. The financial benefit from returning properties that are currently not contributing to the tax base is obvious.
|Should we spend the Future Fund to build a Pan Am / Ticat stadium on the CP Rail Yard lands? Why or why not?
|City council must not spend any taxpayers money (Future Fund or otherwise) on any stadium location until after the election. If the winds of change blowing through Hamilton right now substantially alter who is sitting at the council table when this term ends, the cost to taxpayers for a wrong decision will be very high indeed. As for stadium location, after my personal review of the short-listed sites and the costs attributed to each, it looks like Bob Young had it right the first time; Confederation Park is the sensible choice.
Prematurely removing Confederation Park from the options list was a typical backroom city hall boondoggle. While certain city hall powerbrokers were loudly (and with a disingenuous bent) defending green space by the lake, they were sitting on a fully completed (but publicly withheld) "Confederation Park Master Plan" that expands the current business footprint at Confederation Park.
The Harbour front and Longwood Road sites will need tens of millions we don't have. Compare Confederation Park with the rest - The added millions for purchasing land at Confederation? Zero millions; The added millions for moving existing businesses? Zero millions; The added millions for remediation of a Brownfield? Zero millions.
I'm with Bob Young on this one. If elected, I will demand city council put Confederation Park back on the table, and let the naysayers prove its not the best choice.
|Do you believe that poverty is the most critical issue facing Hamilton today? If so, please outline your solutions. If not, please explain your reasons.
|Poverty is clearly an important issues for electors. Much has been said and not enough done to eradicate Poverty. While we may never totally eliminate poverty, we can make raise the quality of life of people living on fixed incomes and the working poor a number of ways. First should be to reduce the tax burden on Hamilton families. Hamilton is the highest taxed city. I have a plan through zero based budgeting to find and eliminate waste, mismanagement and overspending on things that don't matter. Follow, some of those savings must be re-directed to provide supplementary support for those of our neighbours who need our help.
|Hamilton's Cycling Master Plan has Council approval. However, the implementation timeline is very long and ward councillors can block individual bike lane projects. Do you support accelerating the completion of a continuous bicycle network and other initiatives like a bike sharing program and better access up and down the Escarpment? Why or why not?
|Bike paths should be planned as part of every new development, residential and commercial. Bike paths should also be a priority as each major road comes up for reconstruction. It would be inappropriate to divert current funds we can't afford right now on a major program to put bike lanes in unless it is part of a new or rebuilding project.
Frankly, I'm surprised and disappointed the current council has not taken this approach. If they had, during the four years they've been in office, a good part of the problem facing bike riders in the city would have been solved by now.
|For your campaign, will you be accepting donations from corporations or unions? If so, why? If not, why not?
|I do not accept donations, corporate, union or from individuals. In the past several elections, I have returned donations generously sent to me unsolicited. I have returned many thousands of dollars over the years.
Corporate and union donations bring with them a perception that a Councillor or the Mayor might give special consideration to special interest groups.
I have no problem with individual donations being accepted, as long as it is clear the donation is in support of a candidate's platform.
|Will your term change people's first impression of Hamilton, and make that first impression more attractive to visitors, students, commuters and newcomers? If so, how?
|This is a simple question that stirs a tad of embarrassment in most of us. We can't do much at this time of the view from the Skyway of our steel making factory skyline, however, the downtown must be returned to its former glory. Again, high taxes play a major role in the why Hamilton visitors first impression is what it is. The cost of owning a commercial property in downtown is quite competitive compared to other cities, including Toronto, but, most business owners downtown will tell you that the property and business tax burden and other ancillary fees and charges the city forces small and medium business owners in our downtown to pay is way out of line. Bringing the cost of doing business downtown lower is the first step to encouraging new operators to locate downtown and existing business to stay downtown. Aside for those two matters, our Hamilton can compete and compare with any other city in Canada as a great place to live and work.