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Meet your new mayor

Bruno Tassone is Castlegar’s new mayor.
Lawrence Chernoff

Castlegar residents go to the polls Oct. 20. The Castlegar News sent questionnaires to the three mayoral candidates. They were given a maximum of 100 words per answer. Here are their brief biographies and responses.

Lawrence Chernoff:

I have been married to my wife Jodi for 48 years. We have two grown children and two grandsons, Aiden and Matthew. I have lived in Castlegar for most of my life and worked as a paramedic before retiring.

Deb McIntosh:

I am married to Chris D’Arcy and have one daughter and one grandson. I have worked for the Castlegar and District Heritage Society, which operates the Station Museum and Zuckerberg Island, for the past 27 years. I have been on council for 16 years and I am now seeking the honour of becoming mayor.

I am strong, vocal and passionate about our community. I have the leadership qualities needed to bring forward social policy, infrastructure enhancements and progressive business policies that will foster continuing growth in Castlegar.

Bruno Tassone:

I have lived in Castlegar all my life. I was raised in North Castlegar and spent my youth playing hockey and slow-pitch. After high school, my wife and I decided to stay and raise our three children here as well. I’ve been involved with the Castlegar Rebels, as well as coaching and refereeing for minor hockey and soccer. I dedicated my time to community events and improvements such as the Kinnaird Park expansion and Dig Dirt Day. I’ve worked for the City of Castlegar for 37 years, and have been a councillor for four. I’ve also been a successful businessman in town.

What qualities do you possess that would make you a good mayor?

Chernoff: I have a passion for this community and I pride myself on my integrity. I am a strong, sound, and steadfast leader. I am pro-active, resourceful, and open-minded. I am not afraid to embrace change and make tough decisions. I’ve always acted in a positive and professional manner and I never look for the easy way to do things but the best way.

McIntosh: My qualities are 16 years of experience in local government and in setting budgetary policy. I have spoken up and out in the face of adversity. I have made hard decisions on long-term enhancements of civic developments and services for all residents. I am a team player and understand the importance of building consensus. I stay involved in the community so as to always have perspective. I have always been one to build from the bottom up with the understanding that a solid foundation is everything.

Tassone: Based on my 40-plus years being involved with the city, the qualities I possess are my comprehensive understanding of the city’s strengths and weaknesses and where we need to focus our resources. I’ve had many positions of leadership: coaching and refereeing hockey, being involved with the union executive, owning my own business and being a foreman at the city. I’m very personable, a good listener and welcome constructive criticism and debate on any issue.

What do you see as the biggest issue facing Castlegar and how would you address it?

Chernoff: An issue I would like to continue working on is airport reliability. This includes all-weather landing which further serves to leverage economic development of our city. We need to ensure adequate services are provided to retain local business as well as to encourage new businesses to locate here. The airport issue is now in the hands of Transport Canada. We are continuing to work with them to bring our dream to reality.

McIntosh: Airport reliability is an issue that we are and have been working on with the federal government and Nav Canada. More health care providers in all disciplines are needed. This is currently being worked on through an active doctor recruitment program. There is a need for a wider variety of light industrial and high-tech service employers that will attract skilled and professional people to live here. The city must continue to support the economic development office.

Tassone: Recently the city has done an asset management plan on some of their old infrastructure. Having over 40 years with the city, I feel I am the most experienced and knowledgeable candidate to implement this plan. With proper planning, let’s get a solid foundation in place by balancing asset investments, reserve funding, and cultural and recreational ventures. Another important issue is cancellations at the Castlegar Airport. I believe lobbying together with other regional airports in BC that have the same challenges would strengthen our position with Transport Canada to implement or change regulations allowing better landing opportunities.

How would you move forward with plans for the Castlegar Community Complex?

Chernoff: As this is a regional facility, a new funding formula for expansion is needed to fund this project in a fair and equitable way. I don’t find it democratic for a handful of voters to override the will of the majority. To do this, we need to have a discussion with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. We are also looking for further grant funding. The complex plays a huge role in the economic growth of Castlegar. When people are looking to locate their business or family in this area, they want to know what there is to do here.

McIntosh: Castlegar and District Community Complex is going to be a challenge. Communication is key as is having all the players agreeing to a common goal. Dealing with three jurisdictions poses other issues. Past agreements need to be dropped and new agreements made or we down scale the plan. Everything really depends on the people sitting around the table. We need to find consensus. I support the modernization and expansion but we can only move forward with the broad support of the people of Castlegar and Areas I and J.

Tassone: I am not opposed to the complex expansion, I would suggest including all stakeholders to bring diversity to the planning table and facilitate agreement prior to a referendum, to achieve a successful outcome for all. Collaborating with regional partners is the key to moving this venture forward in a positive manner.

What ideas do you have to further develop the local economy?

Chernoff: To have economic growth, we need to have certain things in place. We have connectivity, land, and a great lifestyle. So, what’s next? The opportunity and desire to open a business in Castlegar. We have an economic development manager and some great staff to help us promote and showcase our community. We have new businesses that have opened up that provide jobs, we have home affordability and one of the friendliest communities in the province, plus, we’ve been working really hard to supply the amenities that people enjoy.

McIntosh: Ensure positive tax policies to make it advantageous for existing and outside investors to expand and locate here, bringing in a wider variety of retail and service industries to town. Work to attract high tech employers adding good paying jobs and adding diversity to our local economy. Work with federal officials to have 21st century technology on aircraft to make our airport a more reliable destination.

Tassone: If we have a strong infrastructure, we can progressively build our businesses and economy. Also, an underestimated asset is the city’s broadband, which could be used to draw major technology industries to our area.

What do you hope to accomplish by the end of your term?

Chernoff: My hope is to have a community that meets the needs and wishes of our citizens, not only for today but into the future. It is important for us to use sound fiscal management, to make improvements in infrastructure, to promote healthy lifestyles and sometimes we like to think outside the box.

McIntosh: Continued measured upgrades of roads, sewer, water infrastructure. Partner with senior governments and local agencies to develop an active housing strategy for multi-family and detached homes within the city. Continue to work with local groups to enhance our parks, green spaces and bike trails. Restructure the recreation complex upgrades plan to give it a better chance of broad public support.

Tassone: By the end of my term, I’d like to have the remaining asset management plans completed (i.e. parks, buildings, sidewalks) and implementation started on the current plans. I’d like to return fiscal balance to our community. And I’d like to strengthen communication between the citizens and city council.

Deb McIntosh
Bruno Tassone