Mayoral Rivals in Windsor Clash

The top two candidates running for mayor in Windsor clashed on a number of issues in a debate hosted by Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Incumbent Drew Dilkens and Matt Marchand answered 12 questions about jobs, leadership style, the high murder rate, a cleaner more attractive city, raising taxes, contracting out, Premier Doug Ford, helping small business, public art, roads and infrastructure and transparency.

Dilkens and Marchand did not know the questions beforehand.

Marchand reiterated a promise to appoint an auditor general within 100 days of taking office to improve accountability at city hall.

"We need to have transparency and accountability," said Marchand.  "The current politicians at city hall think it is their money, it is your money, you need to know how it is being spent. We need value for money, we have an $800-million corporation, why wouldn't we want to see if we are spending that money wisely?"

Dilkens responded by saying the city outsourced the function to Price Waterhouse Coopers which is doing the job.

"37 audits, 215 recommendations, 159 of them already implemented, the rest of them underway by our administration," said Dilkens.  "There is a reason why two municipalities of 444 in Ontario have adopted the auditor general model."

When it comes to property taxes, Dilkens said he will continue to 'hold the line on taxes.'

"I have no idea what hold the line on taxes means, I think it is a bit of a cop out," said Marchand. "What is the number? I'm telling you what the number is, it is going to be 1 percent, that's what we are going to raise your taxes by."

But Dilkens fired back saying Marchand's financial plan doesn't add up.

"What he is not telling you is that the one percent he is talking about, is just to implement his first set of initiatives.  He is way too risky folks, his financial plan, please please please go on his website and download his financial plan and read it for yourself because it is a disaster."

Windsor has had nine homicides this year including two last week alone and both candidates agreed that hiring more officers will help.

"We are going to hire 24 additional officers, it has already been approved," said Dilkens. "We are putting eight more officers on foot in our downtown core in peak times Friday and Saturday nights, we are upping our DIGS [Drugs and Guns Unit] in the city of Windsor."

Marchand says he wants to increase the Drugs Guns Unit by 50 percent, plus tapping into some provincial funds.

"There is a unit in Toronto, it is called the provincial weapons unit and they are going to be making some investments, our campaign is told, this is provincial resources to deal with guns, specifically with guns, we want that unit located here in Windsor because we know there is a traffic of guns from the other side of the border."

 AM800 will replay the debate Wednesday at 7pm.

— with files from AM800's Peter Langille and Teresinha Medeiros