Seymour-Fagan willing to consider tax increase to fund city’s needs
As recently as a year ago local business owner and Bobcaygeon-area councillor Kathleen Seymour-Fagan was done with politics.
“I had decided I was out…I was not going to run again. It was horrendous. Because of COVID there were so many delays in getting things done and people took their anger out on local government. It got so bad I went off social media. I had had it,” Seymour-Fagan said in a telephone interview with The Advocate.
“About three to four weeks before nominations closed, I took a look around at who was running, all of whom I have tremendous respect for, and I reconsidered, realizing I still have a lot of energy…I have a lot to give still,” Seymour-Fagan said.
Seymour-Fagan was asked to respond to a belief in the community that her last minute entry into the race was because she was waiting for Woodville Freedom Group leader Kerstin Kelly to announce instead.
“I think Kerstin is an amazing, smart woman,” Seymour-Fagan said, “but the two are not related. I believe I have more to offer. I don’t follow the crowd. I am not part of the ‘old boys’ network’ common in some communities. I think the city needs (a candidate) with a different background (to be mayor). We need a change and we need to look at things differently to be successful.”
Seymour-Fagan says she is trying to be careful with campaign promises, realizing after being on council for eight years there are many things the municipal government cannot do.
“I do want to make improved customer service a priority,” Seymour-Fagan said. “No one gets back to people. We need to streamline the process. Too much time is being wasted. Staff wants independence. Council wants accountability. We have to discover a happy medium.”
“We need to do a better job in staff recruitment,” Seymour-Fagan added. “We need to better sell a lifestyle that employees will enjoy living in the city. We need to reach out on more social platforms and industry-specific magazines to recruit the people we need. We also need to re-evaluate pay and qualifications. I know people who have applied for city jobs and never even heard back that their paperwork had been received.”
Seymour-Fagan says that the shortage of affordable housing could at least be partially addressed by more people building tiny homes on their properties for rental purposes now that the zoning and by-law regulations have been changed to allow this.
Seymour-Fagan appreciates that road repair and maintenance has become a real talking point in this election.
“Roads bring people here and get them to stay,” she said. “Our infrastructure is failing. Our zero per cent tax increase a few years ago was a poor decision and I voted against it. The money for infrastructure has to come from somewhere.”
Seymour-Fagan accepts that there are still efficiencies that can be found in city operations, but said, “If we cannot find enough we will have to take a look at tax increases.”
Seymour-Fagan would like to see communities be given more autonomy to take on projects like park building or arena management, citing examples currently going on in Ward Eight.
“Projects like these create community pride,” Seymour-Fagan said. “Residents need to be part of the solution moving forward.”
Seymour-Fagan wants to be the kind of mayor who will ask people “what can I do for you?” and actually listen to their answers.
She said it would be wise for the city to publish yearly the amount of money spent per capita in each ward to deal with the prevailing rural idea that “Lindsay gets everything.” Seymour-Fagan said that the anger on this issue might be lessened if people were “better educated.”
Regardless of who wins the mayoral race Seymour-Fagan is hopeful.
“It is going to be a lot of fun. This campaign is going to bring out all sorts of ideas. We need to create a vision for the city moving forward. We need to stop kicking the can down the road and do stuff that needs to be done.”