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Municipal Politics: James Breckenridge Responds To Today Candidate Questionnaire
Candidates for mayor, council and school board trustee in both Abbotsford and Mission are invited to answer the Today Media Candidate Questionnaire. Candidate for council James Breckenridge’s answers follow
1. Getting the City’s spending and finances under control – in order to get property taxes, fees and water rates to stop skyrocketing.
2. Dealing with the heamorrhaging of cash that is the Heat subsidy and the operating costs/losses of the ASEC.
3. Getting the actual facts about the state of Abbotsford’s water supply and starting an open and fact based discussion on what course of action is needed.
2. What would you change about the way Council operates?
Council needs to come out from behind closed doors to provide transparency. Proper budgeting and accurate recording of the city’s expenditures; financial discipline; mayor, council and staff are there to meet the needs of citizens – not their own needs and egos. I intend to blog about what is going on so people can easily find out what is going on – and provide feedback. Listening to what citizens are saying. Stop avoiding social issues [affordable housing, poverty, the growing number of hungry (including the growing number of seniors), homelessness etc] and provide leadership (not money) to get senior levels of government to act on their responsibilities and for the community to come together to address these issues.
3. What should Councilâ€™s priorities be?
Getting spending under control. Getting the facts on the true state of the water supply and having a community discussion about options and the course of action to take. Review of staffing needs of the City. Attracting employers and jobs that pay liveable wages (industries, offices). Leadership (not $$$$) on housing/social issues.
4. Can Council do a better job of including the public in the decision-making process.
Much better. I will be blogging and writing about what is going on, the issues, the tough choices that need to be made. Council could listen with open ears and mind to what citizens are saying.
5. How much higher can/should property taxes be raised?
Council should be looking at zero percent raises. That may prove not to be possible but – if you don’t attempt to hit zero percent, you will never achieve zero. Aiming at zero instead of starting with the rate of inflation as one incumbent stated you have to, will result in lower taxes.
6. Should businesses have a vote?
NO. Businesses already have a vote(s) from owner and employees.
7. What are the three things you most want to accomplish if elected?
2. Finding out what is the actual state of the City’s finances.
3. Establishing fiscal discipline, solid, accurate budgeting, cleaning up bad financial practices and inaccuracy.
4. Establish transparency.
5. Provide leadership on housing and social needs.
I know that is 5 but 2, 3, and 4 are interrelated – different facets of the same issue.
8. What are your main strengths?
Integrity. Solid financial background from 25 years as a Chartered Accountant. Unique (for a member of city council) life experience. Informed and involved in the city’s business (as much as you can be given how much is done behind closed doors). I use the city’s facilities. Involved in the community through volunteering and advocacy. Listening – and hearing. Intensely curious. Intelligent and thoughtful. I Care. A sense of humour that allows me not to take myself too seriously and to be able to laugh at myself.
9. Why should voters vote for you?
I mean what I say. Integrity is a high priority. Council needs to have a variety of backgrounds and experiences. I personally use city facilities and am engaged (out and about) in the community. People who have something they want to say or need to discuss have proven quite able to find and talk to me in public (they do me the courtesy of not disturbing my lenght swimming – which is much appreciated).
When I say I will do something people who know me know it will be done (admittedly they know to make sure I write it down so I forget) and that whatever it is it will be done exceedingly well.
I cannot not write about what is going on – the issues, my thoughts, questions I have etc. A good idea is a good idea – I know the more minds thinking about something the better the chances of coming up with good, innovative ideas and solutions.
Experience (and 25 years as a Chartered Accountant) has given me solid abilities in finance, management, budgeting, planning etc.
Life experience has given me maturity, with the harsh life experiences making a better human being . Life has tempered me as steel is tempered.
10. Anything else you would like to add?
I didn’t sign any of the pledges offered. Because:
First – I would not sign any pledge to favour one group of taxpayers (businesses) over another (individual taxpayers).
Second – I will not sign any pledge I am not sure I can keep. Ask me to strive for a 0% tax increase and I will; ask me to commit to a certain percentage before I know the actual state of Abbotsford’s financial affairs and I cannot do that. Although I can and do commit to state and explain why I feel that the final number is needed.
Get out and vote; encourage friends and family to get out and vote.
Do the homework needed to understand why the P3 is a bad choice and the very negative consequences – especially financial – it will have on Abbotsford and its future. Then get out and vote NO to the P3 and urge others to get out and vote NO to the P3.