A new candidate who entered the mayoral race this week hopes to shake things up, and he's making a pretty big noise as he's filing his papers. University of Waterloo professor Jason Blokhuis is the sixth candidate to declare for the mayor's race in Guelph this election cycle, and he's making a play to position himself as a middle path between incumbent Karen Farbridge and her immediate challenger Cam Guthrie.
Branding himself as a "pragmatic social liberal and a fiscal conservative," Blokhuis says that until his entry, the Guelph mayoral race has been a two way race between Farbridge and Guthrie. "There has been almost no debate about issues and very little by way of policy proposals," he explains. "To the extent that Karen has a platform, it is 'vote for me because I am Karen Farbridge, a community builder.' To the extent that Cam has a platform, it is 'vote for me because I am a Guthrie' or 'Vote for me because I am not Karen Farbridge.'"
Offering a platform of smaller city government, responsible development and decreasing property taxes, Blokhuis argues for downsizing the administration, putting a freeze on hiring outside consultants, paying down the debt, fostering "appropriate growth," encourage staff to make their home here and putting more money into services and frontline workers as opposed to paying the salaries of managers at city hall. Blokhuis points to the fact that Guelph has 199 staffers on the so-called "Sunshine List" as compared to Kingston with 157 and Barrie with 177.
As for his main competition, Blokhuis says of Farbridge that despite her reputation as a community builder, she's "more of a bureaucracy builder and a debt builder." Guthrie, meanwhile, is running on empty rhetoric, he says, adding, "he has done several things that show he is out of touch with a majority of residents of this city, particularly in the core. Robocalls in Guelph? Seriously?"
"I believe we can meet provincial growth directives without losing our agricultural base, our architectural heritage, or our political sensibilities," Blokhuis says in summation. "We can grow without becoming like other cities."
Aside from Farbridge and Guthrie, Blokhuis' competition includes businessman John Legere, shoelessness advocate Joseph St. Denis, and texting aficionado Nicholas Ross.
The other recent candidate to join the race is Laurie Garbutt, who's looking to earn one of the seats in Ward 4. A teacher with nearly 30 years of experience under her belt, Garbutt aims to represent the working class of her ward and promote housing, the environment, diversity, business, and health and well being. In Ward 4, Garbutt will face off against Linda Busuttil, Mike Salisbury and Gary Walton in an open race where both incumbents are not running for re-election; Cam Guthrie is running for mayor and Gloria Kovach is retiring.
Once again, the last call for nominations in any of the council or school trustee races is Friday September 12. The municipal election takes place on Monday October 27.