Meaford Councillor Ross Kentner is the first candidate to declare his intention to run for mayor in the upcoming municipal elections this fall. The long-time resident of Meaford entered municipal politics in 2018 shortly after retiring from a 57-year career with Bayshore Broadcasting Corporation.
Time is of the essence, Kentner told The Meaford Independent on May 2 when he delivered the required documents, signatures, and fees to the municipal clerk’s office. “I can’t see myself sitting on Council as a councillor another term if I am to get done what I see as necessary,” he said.
“This is a critical time for Meaford. We have been at a crossroads for many years and we are finally growing dynamically. I want to see ratepayers’ engagement in that growth. I want to be guided by our official plan and show respect to the public input to that plan. We have a chance to get the best from development and to avoid the worst.”
An overriding priority for Kentner will be to formulate a clear vision. “Meaford lacks a clear vision of what we want to be. It’s frustrating that no one can tell what our vision is. Ratepayers need a say in both a vision and a plan for getting there, and can expect progress reports on how we are getting there.
“Right now we wax and wane between the many goals that we have and ratepayers never do get a progress report. The official plan review has been helpful in part. I see the official plan as something that should be followed but what I see happening is we amend it at every turn. A developer comes in, says I need this and this, and we give it to him to the point that I am not sure we are upholding the plan.”
Communications with ratepayers is also a priority for Kentner. “I wouldn’t be doing this if I felt we as a council were doing the job of communicating the way we should,” he said. “I think this is changing. The municipality did a communications study this year and I am concerned that we get value for money spent on the study.
“As mayor I would be in a different position than I am now. I would have staff supported communication with ratepayers. As mayor I would be in good position meeting weekly with our CAO and would be able to make changes that I feel will help us move forward. There are issues that need to be addressed, like housing, job creation, downtown heritage district, retail stores downtown, throughout the large protect agriculture, bridge infrastructure, support of our hamlets, tourism infrastructure and promotion, and urban green spaces.”
Kentner likes to say that he had five, maybe six, careers in one with Bayshore Broadcasting. He started as a radio announcer and retired as general manager. In between, he represented the company during CTRC hearings and worked on procuring licences for new stations. When he started in 1956, there was one AM station; when he retired, one AM and eight FM stations. He was one of the early chairs of the Community Foundation of Grey Bruce, and he has recently been the chair of the Meaford United Church Raise the Roof Campaign. He has been a keen community volunteer in several capacities.
“It has taken four years for me to learn the differences between the public and private sectors. Both are tremendous institutions. Both require human relations skills to be successful. I feel both are second nature to me. I am not bringing anything any other candidate wouldn’t bring to the position. I do feel I have the experience and would like to put it to use for the community I love so much.”