Architect Robert Ritz announces his candidacy for mayor in the October municipal elections

Stratford architect and longtime resident Robert Ritz has announced he will run for mayor in the October municipal election.

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Stratford architect and longtime resident Robert Ritz has announced he is a candidate for mayor in the upcoming municipal elections.

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In a press release on Thursday, Ritz said he went on to a successful career as an architect, helping homeowners design and gain approvals for homes, apartments, stores, schools and factories in Stratford and other municipalities.

“I am running for Mayor to ensure that Stratford develops with sustainable and respectful development through transparency and citizen engagement by recognizing and enhancing the unique character of the town while addressing and enhancing the social services and city infrastructure so that we can all live in a city that is safe, beautiful and friendly – ​​a city we can call home,” Ritz told the Beacon Herald on Thursday.

Ritz estimated that he has attended more than 100 Stratford council and committee meetings representing customers and supporting residents as they raise questions and concerns about proposed developments. Having also served on the city’s planning advisory committee, Ritz said he has been able to observe first-hand how city council and staff make decisions and provide services to residents.

“Stratford City Council has had the misfortune to be designated as the most secretive in all of Canada, particularly because of the Xinyi Glass Factory controversy,” Ritz said, referring to concerns over transparency. of the board stemming from a lack of public process around a proposal for the development of a Chinese auto glass plant that was abandoned by the company following a major public outcry early last year.

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“I respectfully believe that Stratford needs a change in leadership to restore a culture of openness in our local government. The lifting of secrecy is one of the main reasons why I ask for the vote of my fellow citizens.

If elected, Ritz says he will ensure that there is meaningful public engagement and consultation long before city council makes decisions that affect Stratford residents. As mayor, Ritz said he will work to ensure residents participate in the decision-making process and understand the real impacts a given decision could have on them and the city as a whole as soon as possible.

“I want to have consensus and engagement while we’re going through the decision-making process, not afterwards,” Ritz said, noting that early public engagement could provide solutions to a given issue that hadn’t been fully addressed. explored in a staff report or discussed around the board table.

Ritz said he also wants the public to have a better understanding of how municipal decision-making works, whether by making it easier to track residents at council and committee meetings, encouraging council members to meet citizens regularly to discuss matters at hand, or by implementing a ward system for council representation in which two councilors would be responsible for bringing to the table the issues and concerns of residents in each of the city’s five wards .

“If you have a problem, who do you call? Which of the 10 (advisers)? Ritz said. “Stratford is special. Citizen participation and meaningful engagement are crucial to protecting this great city. Too much secrecy in recent years has put our quality of life at risk. My commitment is to restore our traditions of open government with more public consultation to regain trust in municipal government.

For more information on the Ritz campaign, visit www.ritzformayor.com.

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Melissa C. Keyes