10 Questions for Steven White
Moose Jaw has a by-election scheduled for October 17th.
The purpose of the by-election is to fill a few vacancies. One of which is a board seat for the Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Separate School Division and the other is the one we will be addressing here. To fill the City Council position left behind after long serving Don Mitchell's resignation.
We fielded 10 questions to the candidates that we believed residents of Moose Jaw would want to hear answered. Some of the questions are tough and policy driven, others are lighter and meant to expound on the candidates character, desires and personality. What follows, we hope, is a guideline Moose Javians can go to when deciding which candidate would best represent them.
10 Questions for Steven White
Tell me about yourself: do you have a family? What do you do for fun and what do you do for a living?
I am Married with two daughters, ages 8 and 11. My family spends most of it’s free time with our daughters’ activities which include archery, gymnastics, etc. So my greatest joy is watching them have fun and succeed at what they love. I have spent over 25 years in the financial services industry, and my wife is a CCA at Pioneer lodge.
Why do you want to be a city councillor?
Because I would like to see this City at a state where, when my daughters graduate from university, they look back and say, "I want to return to Moose Jaw because it is a city I am proud of." I want to make sure that The People of this city are truly being represented, and their voices are being heard.
What qualifications do you to have that would convince people you are suited to take on such a position?
In my financial services experience, I have done everything from study corporate and small business financials and I have helped people plan for their futures and understand their present situations more clearly. I have helped people purchase their first homes, send their kids to university, manage their tax burdens as well as plan for their retirement and transfer of assets to their families. I have been through other cities financials as well as the City of Moose Jaw's, and understand how budgeting works. Most importantly though, my 25 years in the service industry taught me how to not only listen, but to understand what people want and need. I feel this would be a great asset in building better communications with the people of Moose Jaw so we can avoid future issues.
What is your vision for Moose Jaw?
I wish to see a day when citizens of our city don't feel left in the dark by the civil servants who were elected to serve THEM. So that when people visit our city they say, "wow, that Crescent Park is amazing” or “did you see how beautiful those murals were?" Not, "do you know another way to get down to High Street? It was under repair for the 3rd time in the same spot." I feel vision for the future of this city is what is lacking in many instances and keeps us repeating the same mistakes over and over again. A sort of patchwork governance, if you will, that keeps us using the instant gratification approach and fixing the problem for the short term without delving into the real reasons we have the problem in the first place and then finding the solution for the long run. I feel my decades of experience in financial planning would be a great benefit in being able to change that vision.
There are concerns there is too much secrecy at City Hall and in Council. What, if anything, would you do to make things more transparent?
I would absolutely agree. The prime examples would be with the recent passage of the parking meter bylaw and the garbage removal issue. In both instances, the residents of Moose Jaw were kept in the dark on certain features, (not being told about the disabled and veteran parking clauses) and it is their right to know. City Hall is in place for the citizens, not the other way around. We elect officials to put OUR best interests forward, not passing resolutions with 85% of people being polled against something. It is our job to communicate with the local businesses and the people of this community and get their feedback before we do ANYTHING. While we all have areas of expertise, no one knows what this city needs better than its citizens and since it is THEIR tax dollars the city is spending, it should be THEIR decision what the City does with it.
At the present time the City is involved in a major infrastructure upgrade which caused problems for many High Street West businesses. What would you do to ensure this never happens again?
A) Much better planning and record keeping on City Hall's part. There are WAY too many instances of projects being either delayed or stopped altogether because of incorrect records being issued to the people doing the projects and this is unacceptable. This is absolutely a priority of mine.
B) While it is unfortunate and necessary to shut down parts of the city while we undertake the project, it should not be done in a manner that completely shuts down areas so that businesses are failing or being destroyed financially because of it. And you need to communicate what exactly is going to happen, WELL IN ADVANCE of when it will happen. We need to give the businesses a chance to make alternative plans so that we can help them not only survive during the inconvenience, but still remain successful.
C) And when there are mistakes, whether minor or severe, we need to stand accountable for those mistakes. Leave the finger pointing to the kids on the playground, and get to fixing the situation immediately and openly. This situation should NEVER happen again.
What for you should be the number one priority for the City? And what would you like done to achieve it?
First and foremost we need a culture change to make the employees of the City realize that it is the people of Moose Jaw that they work for. We are the richest city per capita in ALL of Canada and yet we are dealing with issues that should have been dealt with 20 or 30 years ago. We need to make sure that when making decisions for the people of our city, that we are planning for what the consequence might be and ensure that the people are involved in the process from day one. The people of this city need to be priority #1.
With the referendum against the Cast Iron Local Improvement Program only valid for three years would you be in favor of reintroducing a similar program when that time limit expires?
I believe the whole plan needs to be re-evaluated. We absolutely need to upgrade and repair our infrastructure for the future of our city, but there needs to be a better way of doing it so that we don't destroy what we have here in the first place.
What are your views on the ward system?
I believe I like the system we have as it allows ALL of the citizens of Moose Jaw to have a voice in all the people who sit on council. While I understand the push for simplification and only voting for someone in your "neighbourhood", so to speak, I like the idea of each councillor representing all of the residents.
What do you think about economic development for the City? What type of industries would you like to encourage here?
I think if we do more to improve our roads and other infrastructure and create "business friendly" initiatives to attract more jobs, these initiatives will take care of its development. We need to make this a city these Industries WANT to come to. You can paint the walls all pretty and give away taxes for however many years you want, but it you don't build a system to KEEP them here, as soon as those temporary incentives are gone, so are those industries. Again, it revolves around proper planning and maintaining those plans so that they never get to the state we are in today that will make that difference.