Isaac’s hosts mayoral debate for the second day

On Nov. 2, Brock University’s pub, Isaac’s, became the venue for the second of two mayoral debates in preparation of the upcoming Nov. 13 election.
As students came and went, mayoral candidates Garry Robbins, Emad Zawady, Sue Erskine, and Brian McMullan debated issues of specific importance to Brock students and St. Catharines, as well as issues within the greater Niagara area.
The main concern of all of the candidates was increasing the amount of voters participating in the municipal elections, emphasizing the fact the Brock students can have a great impact on the results if they make the time to go out and vote. McMullan also included that having a younger perspective on politics within the city is a good thing. Brock students, McMullan explained, are the ones who enrich the community, so having them involved in the political atmosphere, even if it is simply voting can greatly benefit the community.
The retention rate of Brock graduates was also a major issue for all of the candidates. Zawady expressed his concern that a lot of businesses are being scared away from the city, and job opportunities need to be offered to keep Brock students here. Erskine added to that idea, explaining the need to change St. Catharines from an industrial economy, to one that will be able to support the ageing population.
Seniors, according to Erskine, need the young students to stay here and support them as they age, and job opportunities need to be presented to the graduates that will be able to fulfil that need. McMullan, however, believes that the only way to keep students here is to provide job markets to students well before they graduate, so that they establish their roots within the city and have a greater inclination to remain within the city once they have graduated.
Robbins spoke about the need to market St. Catharines in order to bring businesses to the region. He reinforced his campaign slogan of being a man of action by claiming he does not talk, he does. Throughout the debate, Robbins frequently reverted his comments back to his celebrity status based off his large stature, claiming that he could bring a “Hollywood feeling” to St. Catharines, much like other wrestler/actor politicians such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura have done. When asked about what each candidate would do to improve the safety of St. Catharines, Robbins felt that taking policing into his own hands was the appropriate way to deal with the situation.
“I walk the streets around my campaign office from midnight to four in the morning, dealing with the prostitutes and the crack dealers. If you can’t be a good citizen, you don’t want to know me,” he said.
While all of the candidates had good ideas for the progress of St. Catharines and the importance of Brock University within the community, McMullan appeared to muster the most appreciation from the crowd after his statements. After spending nine years representing the Grantham ward on City council, and Chair of the Recycling Council of Ontario, McMullan has many ideas about improving the environment of St. Catharines, including increasing the use of bio-diesel, creating more opportunity for the use of bikes and public transit, and potentially instating free bus passes for children under 14 to instill a knowledge of environment protection at an early age.
To close the debate, Erskine reassured Brock students that St. Catharines is in no worse state than any other community within the Niagara region, despite the fact that progress still needs to be made. All of the candidates were united in saying the Brock University, and what its students have to offer to the community, is the most valuable resource our city has to offer. Each candidate ensured that they would do what they could to accommodate the needs of the students.

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