Disero approves nominees for board positions


Opponents Zalepa and Goettler promise to change how the city works

It’s not Team Disero per se, but it gives you a pretty good idea of ​​who the incumbent Lord Mayor is backing in the mayoral elections.

Like many people at election time, incumbent Lord Mayor Betty Disero displays campaign signs on her lawn in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Along with a large red “Re-elect Betty Disero” sign, there are signs for incumbents Allan Bisback and Sandra O’Connor, and political newcomers Tim Balasiuk, Maria Mavridis and Nick Ruller.

Coming soon will be a sign from rookie candidate Adriana Cater (Vizzari) of St. Davids, the mayor said.

Notable by their absence are current advisers Wendy Cheropita and Erwin Wiens.

“These are the people I support,” Disero said, pointing to the signs, a wry smile crossing his face.

Although she knows some of them support her re-election bid, “it’s not a requirement for me to do this.”

And she doesn’t ask them to put up her sign, she says.

“I just think it’s important for me to show my support for the people” whose platforms and projects she believes will benefit the city.

“At some point there will be seven or eight signs on my lawn.”

Despite the occasional verbal sparring between them at board meetings over the past four years, incumbent Gary Burroughs could be added to the panoply of signs, she said. “Gary and I haven’t discussed it yet.”

Disero posted signs of other council candidates in 2018, she said, and all but one of the candidates she supported won a seat.

While historically party politics has not been formally involved in municipal elections, sometimes mayoral candidates organize a list of candidates, so voters know which team each is on.

Disero insists that’s not what’s happening here.

“There are certain candidates that I like, like, like and hope they get elected and bring good things to the discussion at the council table. These are people I support,” she said in an interview.

One of his two adversaries, the regional council. Gary Zalepa said he would not follow suit.

“I never lined up with other candidates,” he said in an interview. “I will work with everyone.”

Zalepa, which many sighting accounts say was an early leader of the ‘sign war’ – its black and white lawn signs were pretty much the only ones in place for the first week about the long campaign – said he had assembled a core team of about half a dozen “very organized” people to help guide his campaign.

That team includes his wife Tammy and sister Alison, as well as retired insurance broker Rick Sherk and former City of Niagara-on-the-Lake chief administrator Holly Dowd.

“I didn’t give anyone specific titles, but Holly chaired our meetings,” Zalepa said.

All of the mayoral candidates say they and their supporters have been busy meeting voters and knocking on doors.

Among the main issues she hears about are the need for new services in St. Davids — including a community center and a resolution to plans for the village pool, Disero said.

The area’s proposed roundabout remains a big concern for St. Davids and she said she wanted to see alternative solutions.

Also important is the upcoming revised Transportation Master Plan – “We need to make sure we don’t send traffic onto Charlotte Street” and instead redirect it to the Niagara Parkway – as is the finalization of the official plan revisions to the city ​​so that it can be approved by the region.

Disero insisted that the official plan would be completed soon.

While much of the informal campaign chatter around town seems to be that Zalepa, a born and bred NOTLer, is going to draw plenty of votes from his fellow longtime residents, Zalepa understandably points out that he hopes to draw support of the whole city.

“We don’t strategically try to do something like that, in fact we try to appeal to a very broad base,” he said.

“I’m looking to take a more common-sense approach to how the mayor engages with council and how council can work together in the best interests of the community. And I think that appeals to a very broad group of people.

While he said he didn’t personally blame the mayor for a significant number of unfilled jobs in the city, he said the municipality needs to do a better job of attracting and retaining talent.

He acknowledged that filling jobs is a problem around the world post-COVID, he also expressed concern about “dysfunction” both with the board and within the ranks of employees.

With several senior executives retiring or leaving during the council’s last term and many jobs unfilled — including fire chief, operations manager, city clerk and some planning positions — Zalepa wonders if the city no longer considered a desirable place to work.

“While I don’t know the full circumstances behind all of these situations, this is not a positive development. It just seems to be cause for concern.

As for the board, while they don’t expect everyone to always agree with each other, they say there’s too much “adversarial” debate.

“There are exchanges that do not correspond to what I would describe as a respectful work environment.

He said Niagara Region has been successful in ensuring that atmosphere and he thinks their “collaborative” approach can help change that “tone” on the board.

The third candidate in the race, retired business owner Vaughn Goettler, is a political newcomer who, among other things, worries that the city council is spending a lot of time talking about things that need to be done and little time put those words into action.

“It drives me crazy and it was one of the things that was part of my decision to come forward,” he said in an interview.

Along with getting final approval for the new official plan, the city’s lack of a tourism strategy is one of the things he wants to see done quickly, if elected.

I think we have a great opportunity to improve our income through a targeted tourism approach,” he said.

It favors a “sustainable” approach to tourism that balances the needs of residents with those of businesses, while being environmentally friendly.

“I think we need to have a coordinated effort with restaurateurs, hoteliers and working with Queen Street merchants to determine what we want to create. I think we have to understand who we are and what we want to do.

In doing so, however, “we have to make sure we are friendly with our residents, especially the elderly. For example, we need to solve our parking problems.

This could mean creating off-street parking, perhaps with a parking garage, or alternatives such as “hop-on hop-off carts” like many other tourist destinations around the world offer.

“A lot of the traffic issues we have are people driving around looking for parking spots. And then our seniors can’t find a place when they go to the post office. If you’re lucky you might find a seat in the back, but if you’re an elderly person with limited mobility it might not work.

But NOTL is not limited to the Old Town, he noted, and said getting the city’s finances in order could allow it to pursue projects like the long-awaited new pool for St. Davids.

“Time is of the essence in everything we do and I think we need to be much more respectful of that because if you’re not careful time becomes money you don’t have and nothing gets done. .”

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