Barrie mayoral candidates debate student issues
October 17, 2014

Ram, Zachary and Jeff deep in conversation

Barrie mayoral candidates Ram Faerber, left, Zachary Gillespie-Rogers and incumbent Jeff Lehman converse before the debate Friday Oct. 17, hosted by the Barrie Students’ Administrative Council in Alumni Hall at Georgian College. Students and staff were invited to hear the candidates’ positions and pose questions. (Georgian College / Doug Crawford)

Three of the four candidates for Barrie mayor brought their campaign to the Barrie Campus of Georgian College on Friday, Oct. 17. Incumbent Jeff Lehman and challengers Ram Faerber and Zachary Gillespie-Rogers took part in a debate hosted by the Barrie Students’ Administrative Council.

Top issues included affordable housing, transportation and employment opportunities for Georgian graduates.

Faerber, a Barrie business operator, said citizens must demand accountability from city council – and get it. He said Barrie Transit does not meet the needs to residents and that employment for young people is lacking. Affordable housing is scarce, but he said that as mayor he would take action against “too many bylaws and restrictions” that, he believes, are currently hampering growth of new rental housing.

Gillespie-Rogers, aged 19, said it is precisely because of his age that he is running for mayor. “Not enough young people vote – I want to set an example and show you that your vote matters,” he told the audience. Key to the city’s future success, he said, is creating a favourable climate for creation of jobs that will allow Georgian graduates to begin their careers without having to leave Barrie.

Lehman, who is seeking his second term as mayor, stressed his record of working closely with Georgian College to help bring additional learning opportunities in Barrie and in creating new supports for entrepreneurs, such as the Barrie Entrepreneurs Connect web portal. In the past four years, Lehman said, he has helped to pave the way for new affordable student housing, an improved transit system, and a vision for a city with a “diverse economy that will bring jobs for everyone, including new graduates.”