Surprise! New candidate in, Langer out

Pro vs con Meredith campaigners to battle for mayor’s seat

Oct. 7, 2009 – Cold feet and last-minute jockeying marked the final day of registration for candidates for Chelsea, Quebec’s municipal election, with one candidate dropping out of the mayoral race and another one stepping up to challenge former Chelsea Foundation President Caryl Green.

Liam Fitzgerald – an anglophone software professional at a small Kanata firm and former member of the campaign against the Meredith Centre – is running for mayor, while Doozy Candle owner Bruce Langer has put his mayoral ambitions aside to run as councillor for Ward 2.

“I’m not comfortable with an acclaimed mayor at all,” said Fitzgerald, 48, who made his decision to run the morning of the deadline day after hearing rumours that Langer was withdrawing from the mayoral race.

Fitzgerald, a Chelsea resident for 15 years who is married without children, has never run for elected office. He became involved in Chelsea’s municipal politics last spring when he campaigned against the Meredith Centre. Bob Milko, the ‘No’ side’s leader during the referendum, is acting as Fitzgerald’s campaign manager.

Fitzgerald is running on a platform of fiscal responsibility. He thinks Chelsea should remain a semi-rural community providing essential services, and that the council needs to turn its attention beyond the centre village.

“We’re putting a huge debt and tax burden on residents,” he said. “People aren’t going to be able to afford to live here… I think we really have to learn to live within our means.”

Like Green, Fitzgerald said the election should not be about the Meredith Centre, even if it’s pitting the project’s proponents and detractors against each other only four months after the referendum.

“Really the election should be about replacing the municipal government,” he said, calling it “unresponsive” and its spending “out of control.” He said there’s a danger of forcing seniors on fixed incomes out of Chelsea if taxes continue to rise.

Fitzgerald also talked about making the municipal government more open, with public consultations and the use of technology to solicit public input.

“The bottom line is we have to be responsive to the people who live here and we haven’t been.”

Strategic change of plans for Langer

Bruce Langer said he “strategically changed (his) plans” in order to get elected, which he thought would be very difficult against Green.

“My purpose is to get on council to influence and change it,” Langer said.

The Doozy Candle business owner considers Ward 2 – where he spends 90 per cent of his time – a critical district as it is centre village. It is being contested by two other candidates, Geoff Bleich and Marcel Gauvreau. Green had originally announced she would run in the ward before announcing she would run for mayor when incumbent Jean Perras decided he wouldn’t be returning.

“A lot of the issues for mayor pertain to this district so I thought it was important to represent it,” Langer said.

He said he took the advice of some “very experienced people” to run as councillor, get his feet wet and go from there. He said he hopes to change council’s tendency to micro-manage issues such as the colour and size of signs and to focus instead on the bigger picture.