BY LOREN PELAEZ
John McLaughlin returns to the mayoral race in 2018 against opponents Mayor Rob Burton and Julia Hanna. McLaughlin ran in the past two municipal elections in 2010 and 2014 respectively.
McLaughlin is a 57-year-old lawyer living in Ward 1 of Oakville. He is married to wife, Lori, and has two daughters, Kelly and Olivia.
McLaughlin believes in a “zero-based” budget, cutting town spending, and reducing debt for Oakville.
“The most pressing issue in this 2018 election is fiscal sustainability & accountability,” says McLaughlin.
He also adds that Oakville’s high living costs are a barrier for Sheridan students.
“[Sheridan] students will have no future in Oakville if they can’t study here, get a real job here or afford to live or buy a house here,” McLaughlin shares.
Though Mayor Burton is optimistic about the town’s finances.
“We had the lowest tax increase in the GTA this year. Our tax rate is Ontario’s sixth lowest,” Burton stated during his state of the town address last month.
McLaughlin has a few ideas about how he would improve Oakville’s fiscal plights. He believes that the business sector in Oakville must be competitive to flourish. He suggests giving grants to local businesses and lowering business tax rates.
“A public/private strategy to revitalize the BIA’s (Business Improvement Areas) would involve providing grants by the town to provide relief and incentives to revitalize store-fronts and shopping and tourists districts,” McLaughlin says. He also believes implementing free town-wide parking would attract more shoppers and boost tourism.
He wants to address traffic congestion in Oakville, which McLaughlin blames partly on the Town’s 2017 decision to scrap the Saw-Whet golf course in favour of residential development, a decision McLaughlin disagrees with.
“Every new home and driveway causes more congestion, pollution, increases future budgetary costs as well as putting residents’ lives and property at risk of flood water dangers, from catastrophic storm run-offs.” McLaughlin says.
McLaughlin also believes in greener transit is needed in Oakville.
“Oakville Transit has to convert to 100 per cent zero-emission (i.e. electric fleet) to encourage visitors, students and resident’s use,” He says, adding that he would implement a $2 flat fare system.
McLaughlin names Oakville’s fiscal sustainability as the biggest issue facing the town of Oakville, referring to not only debt but also the ever-expanding town budget.
“Town Council will spend about $449 million in 2018, whereas it only spent about $197 million a year, when Burton first took office in 2006,” says McLaughlin.
This mayoral candidate is not shy when it comes out to calling out opponent Mayor Burton.
In 2014 McLaughlin filed a complaint against the then three-term mayor, citing alleged misconduct. Burton referred to the complaint as a “publicity stunt”, but McLaughlin denied there being any “politicking” in his decision to file the complaint.
Oakville residents can vote in the municipal elections later this month on Oct. 22.