Our series continues with Ward 7 candidate Robert Young. Enjoy our Q/A with Robert:
1. Why are you running for Ward 7 Councilor? What are you hoping to achieve by doing so?
Having a Dual Honours BSc. in Computer Science & Physics, successful businesses in Toronto and Hamilton, and family, I am a strong candidate for Ward 7. My first term priorities are as follows:
· Lower property taxes to the Niagara region average - *instead, collect revenues from user fees, permits, and licenses.
· Improved infrastructure; there are highly needed upgrades to our streets and parks. The current bus service on the mountain needs innovative routing and strategic planning for lesser wait times and more articulated patterns with closer access to home and businesses within the Ward.
· Small Business: Attract small business and collect revenues through new industries not yet realized, while ending wasteful spending.
· Housing and long term care for seniors and better transport to seniors apartment buildings.
· End wasteful spending, which is a bigger issue than revenue for Hamilton Council. There is plenty of money, revenue and taxes. In fact taxes are so high that there is no answer to where the money is going.
· De-politicize grants. By allocating block funding to the Hamilton Community Foundation, the city would save on overhead costs, as the HCF already gives out grants and loans.
· De-polarize ineffective Government Grants the “red tape” alone costs more than the entire project. If the Government cannot intervene correctly then the Government should not waste time & money to become involved at all.
· Save money while increasing revenues through legalizing and licensing consensual goods & services (savings can be made by redirecting policing away from consensual goods & services). These are lucrative industries that are devalued by having them conducted on the streets instead of behind closed doors.
· Conduct thorough spending reviews to find cost efficiencies and consult residents to prioritize spending.
· I will term limit myself as city councilor to no more than ten years, and I will donate 50% of my salary to local charities. As a successful business owner, I don't need to run for office but I believe Hamilton needs fresh perspective.
Ward 7 (and Hamilton as a whole) is a very high revenue (which is great) and low yielding (which is not good) economy. We have lots of money coming into council and no-one knows how to spend it. This is where the Honour Degrees and Hard Working step up!
My 40 years of business experience, mainly as business owner, have equipped me with strong financial management skills and I always strive to minimize operation costs.
The system generally needs change--we have had the same 3 Governments for over 200 years that continue to be re-elected with antiquated goals. It screams for change and increased voter awareness, which explains the lack of voter turnout.
2. What do you think are the most pressing issues facing the Ward and facing the city as a whole. How would your contributions help to resolve these issues?
In Ward 7 right now the most pressing issues are:
1) Property taxes.
4) Accessibility to bus stops.
5) Bus routes to cover more area on the mountain.
6) Housing and long term care of the seniors.
7) Overspending of tax and other revenues.
I would concentrate on how to save money and cut back on spending, while at the same time opening the doors to new sources of revenue. One way would be to cut back on unnecessary policing of victimless “offenses” involving consensual goods & services. This revenue could then be channeled towards much needed improvements in the aforementioned areas. Public safety would be enhanced by removing these activities off the streets.
3. What is your current assessment of this installation of City council? Are you satisfied with their performance. What, if anything, might you add to council that would be unique or new?
The current City council gets along well together and appears to have a friendly atmosphere; however, their spending is reproachable. I hope that most people who get involved in council are as concerned as I am about the cash flow situation. There needs to be an innovative approach to raising revenues and saving money.
The residents of Ward 7 pay more property tax per capita than in any other Ward. It’s time for someone strong to step in and speak up for long overdue improvements to its parks, sidewalks and roads, transit and seniours care.
4. How can people reach you to ask you about your position on matters or to otherwise engage with you?
I am always available by phone, social media “(mainly Facebook)” or e-mail, and I am more than willing to discuss issues on radio, TV or any other media. I am open to onstage debates or question periods at schools or wherever appropriate. I am open to any debates in any format.
5. Tell us a little about yourself, on a personal note. Your hobbies, likes, dislikes, background etc. Anything that would have people get to know who you are on a more personal basis.
I am the first born child of a Doctor of Optometry. Doing very well in school I managed to skip in a few grades graduating with a dual Honours Degree in Physics and Computer Science from The University of York’s Faculty of Science and Engineering.
One of my tutorial leaders, and now a professor and spokesman for CTV and Canada’s Space Science Program, Paul Delaney, once taught alongside me at Upper Canada College as Seminar Leader.
Since then my main function has been as a Computer Programmer for International Banks and later operating my own family business. As a business owner I soon became popular in community circles which lead to becoming involved in supporting local infrastructure improvements.
I live in Hamilton with my wife Catherine of 21 years and 10-year-old daughter Sarah.
As a youth I enjoyed windsurfing and swimming pools. As my father passed away while I was still young I became a lifeguard for 12 years to help pay for my tuition. I am proud of having performed six solo deep water rescues during this time, and coaching a 7th deep water Lake Ontario rescue.
6. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I reside in Hamilton and at one point lived and worked all across Canada as a Computer Programmer / Analyst for BCI Bank (an international Italian Bank) for 6 continuous years, and 1 year as a Programmer for Honeywell in Calgary, prior to that.
My primary goal is Change. I come from an industry of constant change, progress and growth. The current Council, Politicians, getting bylaws passed, policies and procedures changed through municipal bureaucracy is like watching snails crawl in slow motion.
As a super-achiever, I have done well at (almost) everything I put my mind to. I tend to improve and move forward with goals and I find Hamilton seems to be in a deadlock deficit even with funds coming in. I think I would do very well in mitigating this problem and I am backed by a strong team of supporters with much experience and political know-how.
I work great both solo and with a team; I think there is much effort needed to move Ward 7, as well as the rest of Hamilton, forward. Ward 7 needs fiscal responsibility and new higher achieving goals.
As I said at the beginning: Ward 7 is a very high revenue (which is great) low yielding (which is not good) economy. In other words, we have a lot of money and no-one knows how to spend it!
As a small business owner and father, I know the importance of balancing budgets. Hamilton has a spending problem and council keeps increasing property taxes every year. We need to subordinate our spending while reaching out to new industries for new revenues rather than increasing taxes on old revenues like Property Tax, we need to prevail, we need a more robust economy, and we need change now!