Six Questions for Dorothy Hector

Dorothy Hector, 2014 municipal election, mayor, Kingston, OntarioOur mayoral candidate interview series continues today featuring Dorothy Hector. A Kingstonian and Councillor of Lakeside District since 2006, Dorothy was a member of the first class of Lady Cadets to enter the Royal Military College of Canada, where she obtained a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Her resume includes numerous other noteworthy highlights, including her involvement with United Nations World Food Programme, adjunct faculty position with the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, as well as receiving a degree Doctor of Laws from the Royal Military College of Canada.

1. Why do you think you are the best candidate to become Kingston’s next mayor? What unique skills, experience and insight sets you apart from other candidates and makes you the most logical choice for voters in the upcoming municipal election?

I grew up in Kingston, went to school here, it is home and I love Kingston. I have the knowledge, experience and commitment to do the job. In this campaign I am challenging my opponents to match my record of getting things done, because I do not believe they can match my record during my eight years on Council. I graduated as a mechanical engineer in the first class with women at RMC, I hold a master’s degree in strategic management and I was awarded an honourary doctorate of laws by RMC in recognition of my leadership and humanitarian aid work. I served as an officer in the Canadian military and worked for international humanitarian agencies including the United Nations World Food Programme and CARE Canada. I have served on almost all of the major committees and agencies of City Council. I believe leadership and experience are key issues in this campaign and if elected I am committed to working full time as Mayor of Kingston because I believe the challenges and issues facing the City require a full-time Mayor to provide the leadership required to move this city forward while keeping a lid on taxes.

(List of actions: Championed a Pesticides Ban; led the re-organization of the KFHC board and housing provider; stepped up to rally fundraising for KROCK Centre; spoke out to ensure the Environmental Assessment for the Third Crossing went forward; refurbishment of Locomotive 1095 by local craftsmen; led Olympic Torch Relay Celebration; championed electronic voting at Council for transparency and accountability; led an amendment to the smoking by-law to ensure parks and public spaces free of second hand smoke; implemented a street food policy for healthy food in our parks; organized a Women in Politics seminar promoting women’s participation in government; elected by Ontario peers to the National Board of Directors of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and is Vice-Chair of the Environmental Issues and Sustainable Development Standing Committee, member of International Relations Standing Committee, member of the Rural Forum; part of the group that created the vision “Kingston is Canada’s Most Sustainable City”, then collaborated with many groups to create the Community Sustainability Plan, accepted by Council, and now an active non-profit Sustainable Kingston oversight agency has been created in our city – Vision to reality; and much more.)

2. When Kingstonians vote on October 27th, they will be asked if they are in favour of a casino being located in the City of Kingston? What is your position regarding this transformative ballot question?

I will vote “no” in the referendum because my going door to door throughout this municipality during this campaign and listening to residents has convinced me that this is the will of the people. I voted in favour of holding the referendum because I believe the voters should decide on this issue and as Mayor I will abide by the referendum outcome.

3. According to a report by the Community Foundation for Kingston & Area (CFKA), many Kingstonians feel that “local government programs and services have not made a difference”.  As mayor, how would you work to address this sentiment and otherwise ensure that members of the community see the value provided by municipal programs.

At the presentation of Vital Signs by CFKA, it was noted that the City had made an effort to engage the public on several issues. However, it is important that the city work with partner agencies, groups and organizations to make more of a difference. We need to have clear goals on what we are trying to achieve, ensure that expectations are addressed through the goals or other means so that there is no misinterpretation of intent or results. Communicating with residents is always a challenge but as a City we must do a better job. For instance I have been using social media since I started on Council and added twitter five years ago. Through pursuing this with the city, we have started to use more social media to communicate, yet we still have a responsibility to ensure that the traditional means of communications are used so that we do not exclude portions of our population that may not have access to the new technologies.

We found out during the debate over bicycle lanes and redevelopment in Williamsville that the City had failed to adequately consult and inform residents of the area. Council asked staff to re-examine its current communication policy and I look forward to the outcome of this process. It is ironic that in today’s digital world with so many communications tools at our disposal, it seems more difficult than ever to communicate effectively. It is not a problem exclusive to City administration of course. How the public receives information is constantly changing. The days when ads in the local newspaper were considered sufficient are long gone with the move away from traditional media. Social media provide new opportunities and we must provide our staff and councillors with all possible tools to keep the public involved and informed. Transparency and accountability must be priorities for local government if we are to maintain public trust and benefit public participation in the process.

4. Do you consider KEDCO’s mandate sufficient with respect to the attraction and development of local area businesses? What changes, if any, would like to see made at KEDCO as well as within city policies and strategies to help stimulate new and exciting economic development?

It is important for every organization periodically review its mandate and its policies to determine if they are still relevant and if changes are needed. KEDCO is no different. It is a normal part of governance and healthy policy to evaluate what is happening versus what was intended to happen. With regards to KEDCO, like every organization there is always more or different things that can be done. I believe that it is important for the City and KEDCO to work together closely with regards to policies and strategies to find solutions for the empty federal properties throughout the city. We also have to find opportunities to partner with our education and health institutions to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship. The Queen’s Innovation Centre is just an example of what is possible. We have to work in Kingston to change our attitude, we need a ‘made in Kingston’ solution to attracting and retaining businesses. We have so many strengths in this community and we have to build on those strengths, and use them to leverage more opportunities. The youthful energy that comes from our universities and college needs to be fostered. If we just took some time to inventory the learning and research going on in the city, matched the types of jobs that support those activities, identify the companies and businesses that provide those jobs and target them for attraction to Kingston we could do so much to build our made in Kingston ideas. Building our economy, keeping students here, working, and ensuring our future growth and prosperity is what I will work towards as a full time Mayor.

5. Kingston tends to struggle with respect to striking the right balance of transportation options and infrastructure. Many residents argue that a third crossing is long overdue, while others see this project as being financially irresponsible. Are you in favour of investing in the development of a third crossing, or do you feel that city funds would be better spent in other areas of improving our transit system?

I have supported a third crossing since the issue was first raised at Council. It is a vital part of our master plan for transportation to link all parts of the City as well as to provide more commercial development in the east end, safer and more convenient access for people living in this part of our community and benefits to our economy as a whole. A third crossing will encourage economic development and widen our tax base to provide the funding needed to invest in housing and other needs while being able to keep a lid on our local taxes. I don’t see the third crossing, increased public transit, bike lanes and as either/or choices. It will be a question of finances.

The City cannot and should not go it alone on financing this major infrastructure project. We need funding from the provincial and federal governments to make this happen, with the city getting money from development charges to help fund its share of the partnership. The federal government’s commitment to providing new money for infrastructure it is a hopeful sign that such an arrangement is possible. As your full time Mayor I would work closely with potential partners to make the third crossing a reality. The next phase will be about design and it will take years to complete. This gives us time to conduct a thorough public consultation process to determine what kind of crossing taxpayers want. For example, are pedestrian and bicycle access priorities? How many lanes are required? It will be a challenging process and one that requires leadership from a full-time Mayor.

6. If you are elected Kingston’s next mayor, what immediate challenges will you focus your (and council’s) attention on? Further, what do you assess as being your top local priority, and how you propose to ensure it is successfully realized/managed during your first term as mayor?

I believe the City has to define its core business and stick to its priorities like maintaining streets and snow removal while forging partnerships that will make it possible to develop new infrastructure like airport runway expansion, the third crossing and water and sewer renewal. It is only through such investments that we will be able to move this City forward and reach our community’s full potential as a sustainable community. I see Kingston as the regional hub wherein partnerships are formed with neighbouring municipalities to provide better services at lower cost to taxpayers. I would propose to the new City Council that we declare an annual “Kingston Celebrates” event to showcase the achievements of individuals, groups, businesses and organizations throughout our community as well as the presentation of an annual Mayor’s Report that provides the public with a transparent record of Council’s progress and the areas in which it falls behind in goals and objectives. Accountability is a major factor in maintaining the respect and involvement of the public in how our City is governed.

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