Gary Muntz is running for Council; outlines priorities

As a long time resident of Port Dover, having put down roots here in June 1983, I have been a keen observer of the municipal political scene. I had the honour of serving my fellow Port Doverites for two terms during the City of Nanticoke days.
With the creation of the new Norfolk County as a single-tier municipal government, my contribution to political life has been by way of opinion pieces, commentary and letters to the editor.
I believe the present operation of Norfolk County leaves far too many folks feeling the county is both remote and unresponsive. Closed meetings and secret deals have created an unhealthy cynicism, which is antithetical to a well functioning democracy. Just look at the abysmal municipal election turnout!
I would like to be part of a newly elected council with new faces and fresh ideas sitting at the table. As a wise person said long ago, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
Accordingly, I am announcing today that I will be standing for election to Norfolk County Municipal Council, representing Ward 6, in the October municipal election.
I offer the following skill set, training and education for consideration by the voters:
• Following high school, I worked for two years in a public accounting office, training to be an accountant.
• Next I proceeded to the University of Guelph where I earned a Honours B.A. Degree majoring in both History and Political Studies.
• Next I earned a Master of Arts degree in Political Studies with specialization in Public Administration at the University of Guelph.
• Following this formal academic training, I accepted a management position in a Ford Motor Company assembly plant.
• I believe the time spent both here, along with the accounting training, to be the most insightful and practical in developing skill sets and training to succeed and prosper in the real work-a-day world.
• Next I managed and delivered a continuing education program at St. Clair College.
• Next I was the Hospital Administrator at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph.
• Next I was the Administrator of a municipal Home for the Aged.
• Last, but not least, I was the Administrator of a large Mental Health Program.
• And then I retired!
Now for the past several years, I have devoted much time in efforts to raise public interest in matters of municipal politics and civic administration.
I have discovered that many fine people do a great job, day in, day out as civil servants in Norfolk County and deserve recognition and appreciation for a job well done. It nevertheless also is a troubling fact that for some senior staff there is a penchant for unwarranted secrecy and uncivil behaviour. That such behaviour is tolerated by our elected councillors is disturbing.
Equally disturbing and outrageous is Norfolk Council’s cavalier attitude when it comes to their fiduciary responsibility for the taxpayers’ money. Reference here the Simcoe Soccer Field fiasco and the Port Dover so-called Medical Centre caper. It is outrageous that the present elected council has turned a blind eye to the disappearance of considerable public money. Only new members on Norfolk Council will put an end to such scams and cover-ups of financial impropriety.
Should I have the honour of representing Ward 6 at Norfolk Council, I will:
• Work with my fellow council members to put an end to the secret skulduggery that too often is the subject of closed door meetings. The public’s business must be done in public! Only the rarest legitimate exceptions should be tolerated. Sunshine is a powerful disinfectant for both corruption and stink!
• When public funds are provided to volunteer citizen groups, I will work with fellow councillors and staff to develop a simple reporting system for both the funding provided and a brief summary of the project’s outcome. The present Councillors’ tragic disregard for their fiduciary responsibilities in matters of such funding has cost several honest volunteers thousands of dollars out of their own pockets. I fear this tragedy may dampen many citizens’ enthusiasm to volunteer for worthwhile causes in the future. I hope not! This mess can be traced directly to Norfolk Council’s cavalier attitude to our municipal financial resources.
• I will work with staff and fellow councillors to end the impasse with respect to Misner’s Dam. Too many legal consultations, too many engineering consultations, have wasted enough money to have solved the problem when it first appeared nine years ago. The lack of leadership with a “can do attitude” has driven costs to the point where “ward wars” may have doomed a reasonable solution. This is a tragedy not only for Port Dover, but for the entire county. This dam must be fixed and fixed now!
• As a general statement on fiscal responsibility, the County must set fiscal priorities and spend wisely. Life in the real world means you seldom get all you want, all the time. Every dollar spent has an opportunity cost attached to it. We must end our addiction for hiring external consultants by utilizing the savvy and the brains within our own staff.
• While on the subject of money and brains, who is responsible for our deplorable investment performance? A monkey at a carnival throwing balls at holes in a wall would produce a significantly better return on investment … and without the outrageous management fees. In the private sector, someone would be gone.
Finally, and possibly most important, I believe passionately that better, more effective decisions would flow from the imposition of term limits. No question about it. Complicated to achieve, absolutely. Better for democratic institutions like Norfolk County needs to be, no question.
We can do better, we must do better!

Gary Muntz
Port Dover

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