Current mayor, Parrish Tung, is being challenged by his former colleague, long time friend, and current councillor, Lorne Young.
The Elk Point candidates’ forum, moderated by Colin Bjorkman on Tuesday, October 3 at the Seniors’ Recreation Centre, showcased the passion of two candidates for mayor and seven candidates for councillors.
Highlights from speeches and responses to questions given by the mayoral hopefuls are summarized below, alternating between comments from Tung and from Young to allow for voters to compare the candidates’ platforms:
Parrish Tung stands on his record of 16 years on council, including the past 13 as mayor. Under his leadership, Elk Point upgraded to a 24/7 water supply, a sewage lagoon with capacity for expansion, and treated water storage facilities. Recreation improvements include four playgrounds, a waterpark, upcoming pickleball courts, and ball diamonds. Residential and industrial lots have been serviced for development. Cast iron water lines are being replaced and a location for the truck fill station has been secured. Tung says he still has plans for some water related projects, including a variable speed pump to increase water pressure in the north end of town.
After one term as councillor, Lorne Young, who was born, raised, worked, and retired in the Elk Point area, is running for mayor “because I’m ready to take the next step. This is a tremendous community.” His experience as principal at Heinsburg Community School and Elk Point Elementary have “taught me to find solutions and collaborate with others.”
Tung touts his networking skills and good relationships with neighbouring municipalities. He is proud of the cooperation that has developed between Elk Point and the County of St. Paul, citing $45 000 per year in support of the library, and a mutually beneficial land swap for the water fill station as examples.
Young is driven by concern for fiscal management and the best interests of the taxpayers when making decisions. He wants to ensure that “paying off the debt will not be at the expense of services,” pointing out that although the current council borrowed money, the dollars were put towards improvements such as the lots, the treated water storage facilities, and the sewage lagoon.
To stimulate the economy, Tung says, “We can provide incentives, but businesses are here to make money. We can only provide them with services that are reasonable so that their costs are lower than in other municipalities. We can control the price of the serviced lots” as an incentive for businesses wishing to locate here.
Young’s key to stimulating the economy is attracting more homeowners, small businesses, and industry. He says that “we need to think larger than just Elk Point” for opportunities. “Our town is made up of the residents who live here, but our service area is so much bigger…Working with the County of St. Paul on the Intermunicipal Development Plan will guide us and provide infrastructure to attract new businesses.” Evidence that Elk Point wants to attract business is the serviced industrial lots that are ready to go.
For seniors’ housing, Tung says, “We are looking at affordable housing for seniors, but funding is difficult to get from the government, and privately owned and operated housing is expensive. Research done four or five years ago found the basic cost for an accessible house was too high for most seniors: about $300 000 per house.” However, seniors’ housing is “on the horizon. We’re looking at it.”
Young recognizes that “we have a bulging population of seniors who want to move from their family homes.” Accessibility, ease of use, and garage space are priority requirements. The number of people in acute care who are waiting to get into long term care is a concern, as well. Says Young, “You can bet we’ll lobby hard for (seniors’ housing).”
In his summation, Tung points to his service of 16 years to the town, 13 as the mayor. “I know you have a tough choice. Lorne and I have worked together for over 30 years. In my heart, I know that both of us will do a good job. My slight advantage is experience. I developed a lot of contacts outside of this town, and I do know how the town functions. Also, this is the only elected position I’m running for. I can tell you I will give this position my 100%.”
Young wrapped up his discourse with, “Parrish and I go back a long way, and it was a hard decision to run against him. I feel very confident that putting it in the hand of the electors is the right thing to do. I have developed a set of skills over the years: working with people, collaborating. I am definitely prepared to do the job. I want to do the job. I am very happy to see the group of candidates that are up here. You are going to be well served. This is a group of very passionate people.”
Voting takes place Monday, October 16, 10:00 am to 8:00 pm at the Elk Point Town Chambers.