BY BILL PHILLIPS
Billing himself as the candidate who will bring a small business voice to the table, Cameron Stolz announced he is seeking a seat on city council.
“People keep asking the same question ‘where is the small business voice on council? Where is the common sense and forethought?’” he told a crowd of about 50 people Thursday.
After first being elected to council in 2008 and then getting re-elected in 2011, Stolz failed in his bid to get re-elected in 2014. So what is different now?
“At the time there was a definite voice of people wanting to see some change in the make-up of council,” he said. “We saw three women elected to council when there had been none elected in the previous term. I think there was a bit of balancing happening there. What I’m saying now is we need balance again, this time it’s a small business voice balance that’s needed at the table.”
He added that he has gotten re-married since 2014 and now has a blended family with seven children.
“Getting married has a profound effect on men,” he said. “And it changes your perspective on how you look at things.”
He stressed that council needs someone with a small business perspective, which will be missing since Albert Koehler has announced he will not be seeking re-election.
Stolz has owned Great White Toys, Comics and Games for 28 years, has gone from six employees to 16 employees.
The city has come under fire for an agreement that saw overtime paid to senior city staff when evacuees descended on the city last summer, something Stolz says he definitely does not support.
“As a small business owner I’ve been through the ups and downs of our local economy,” he said. “There were tough times in 2009 when we had the economic crash where I chose to look after my staff first and my suppliers, even though that left very little for myself after the day was done. Perhaps that’s something City Hall might have thought about last year during the terrible challenges we all saw when friends were forced to evacuate and come to our community.”
Those tough times landed him in hot water, however, as he stepped down as finance committee chair when it was discovered he was delinquent in paying his own taxes.
He said in the small business world when someone works overtime, they get time off in lieu.
“I look at the amount of money that was spent there think of how that could have been spent to build a better community.”
He said council also needs someone who is focused on fiscal responsibility and reminds others that it’s taxpayers’ money they are spending, citing the recently refurbished Masich Place Stadium as an example.
“Because it’s your money, I’m dismayed at the lack of forethought that went into the restricting of access of the brand new and renovated Masich Place Stadium,” he said. “Because it’s your money you should be able to use it after it’s been spent building it.”
He was also critical of a recent reduction in the road rehabilitation budget.
“There was a time we almost had a revolt over the condition of the city roads,” he said. “You wanted better roads and I was proud to work as a champion for that where we saw dramatic improvement. Unfortunately, just as the city was getting to the rural roads it has decided to cut the roads budget this year by more than 25 per cent. I consider that unacceptable.”
Stolz touted some of his accomplishments during his previous two terms on city council, such as dealing with derelict buildings and tackling the issue of infrastructure replacement.
“I brought the first remedial order to council to address the issue of derelict buildings,” he said. “Along with the council of the day, I laid the foundation to fix the huge challenge of our water and sewer infrastructure, work that was supported unanimously by council.”
He said many of the infrastructure challenges remain and the city needs “someone with forethought and planning” to deal with those issues.
City residents go to the polls to elect a new council October 20.