by Robert Washburn
Transparency and accountability will be cornerstones of his administration, Deputy Mayor John Henderson launched his bid for mayor before a small crowd in front of Victoria Hall Tuesday afternoon.
In the face of multiple criticisms from various resident groups and presenters regarding the way council ignores the public or fails to inform them sufficiently before making decisions, Henderson said he has worked hard to improve the situation. Still, more can be done, he said.
However, details of his six-point communications plan were not revealed.
“I don’t want any of my potential competitors taking my ideas at this point,” he said.
However, he also emphasized its importance. He noted the town does not have an information technology (IT) strategy across the board. It would be something he would implement, helping to improve communications between staff, councillors and the public.
“Leadership must be aligned with enhanced communications to ensure a full understanding of
key issues that will face our community over the next four years with one being the Cobourg
Waterfront and Headlands,” he said in his prepared statement.
Multiple times Henderson spoke about collaboration in relation to working with the public, councillors, and staff.
“As mayor I would be committed to listen to council colleagues, staff and our community while working towards a culture of collaboration, engagement an dialogue. Making decisions that are in the best interest of the community will be my top priority,” he said in his prepared statement.
He defended the council’s current record around transparency and accountability, saying there
were many changes over his two terms. He pointed to many policies and procedures, including a new communication policy, public engagement policy, along with comment, complaint procedures.
Henderson said his 23 years of public service on various committees, boards and council provide him with extensive first-hand experience. He served on the first waterfront plan committee in the 1990s, as well as chair of the police services board. On council, he was the
coordinator of planning and development before becoming deputy mayor.
He believes becoming mayor is part of an evolutionary process, he said during an interview on Consider This Live Wednesday.
While he noted the importance of many economic initiatives, including the Venture 13 business incubator and the Start Here campaign to attract businesses to the downtown, Henderson acknowledged the challenges facing the town.
With new tariffs imposed by the United States are currently underway, along with the potential introduction of more, including the automotive sector, Cobourg will not be immune to the impact.
“We must have flexibility,” he said. “We also have strength by being part of AMO (the Association of Municipalities of Ontario). There are 444 members, and we are one of those 444…If we work together, then I think it will make a difference.”
He also said it will be essential to work with the provincial government, calling on newly elected
Northumberland Peterborough South MPP David Piccini to fulfill his promises to politicians and voters to advocate on behalf of the region.
Henderson also wants to build a stronger relationship with the Northumberland Central Chamber of Commerce, a group representing business people within Cobourg and the surrounding area.
“It is one group I have not worked with on my time on council,” he said.
Henderson is married with three grown children. He said his family plays a role in his campaign, providing advice and counsel.
“They each play a role and bring their own unique perspective,” he said during his radio interview.
Mayor Gil Brocanier announced Tuesday evening at the council meeting he will not be running again in the October 17 municipal election.