News Local

Arif Khan wins Ward 8 seat

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

Arif Khan, the councillor-elect for Ward 8, collects his signs after Monday's byelection results. Khan topped well-known contenders like Colin Wilson and past city councillor Mike Ramsay. J.T. MCVEIGH BARRIE EXAMINER

Arif Khan, the councillor-elect for Ward 8, collects his signs after Monday's byelection results. Khan topped well-known contenders like Colin Wilson and past city councillor Mike Ramsay. J.T. MCVEIGH BARRIE EXAMINER

Arif Khan’s big blue signs came down Tuesday, just hours after his name went up in lights following Barrie’s Ward 8 byelection.

Khan, 41, outdistanced Colin Wilson, Mike Ramsay and eight other candidates to win the city byelection, which wrapped up Monday.

Khan captured 521 votes, or 32.38% of the ballots cast, followed by Wilson with 398, and 24.74% of the vote and Ramsay, who had 385 votes or 23.93% of the ballots.

The first to register for the byelection, Khan was there when it finished, too.

“I was the first to get out of the gate, because I was very passionate about it and I knew we were up against some very stiff competition, if you will, an incumbent, somebody (Ramsay) with previous experience,” he said.

Khan is scheduled to be sworn in as the new Ward 8 councillor on Dec. 17.

The Ward 8 byelection was necessary because of Jennifer Robinson’s resignation in August.

Khan credited heart and determination for his victory, and thanked his supporters after his win.

“Plain and simple, I’m not that good by myself and there’s no way I was going to be able to do this by myself. I had some really incredible help,” he said.

“The first job is really to kiss my kids, who I haven’t seen in three months. I try to kiss them in the morning, before they wake up and kiss them in the evening when they’re already asleep. Honestly, the first job is to kiss my kids and spend some time with them.”

Ramsay, a city councillor from 1994 to 2003 and 2006 to 2010 who also ran for mayor in the 2010 city election, took the results in stride.

“I guess the people have spoken and they decided to go with someone who lives in the ward,” said Ramsay, who lives in the east end. “I think being the local boy was a big factor. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. But I have a lot of great support from the people of Allandale.”

Wilson seemed stunned by Khan’s win.

“I’m a little shocked. I guess there’s a large Conservative base in the city that’s really helped a relatively unknown candidate to win. That’s what it came down to,” Wilson said.

“This is an individual (Khan) that’s never been part of anything in the community, in terms of visibility on the Allandale Neighbourhood Association, for example,” Wilson added. “He never showed his face in any of the meetings there.

“I have a lot of high expectations for somebody who didn’t walk the walk until it was election time. We’ll just see.”

Khan does not deny his ties to the Conservative Party — he’s been a volunteer for Barrie MP Patrick Brown and Barrie MPP Rod Jackson — but says those ties won’t influence his decisions as a Barrie councillor.

“To make it very clear, on a municipal level, there is no party politics. There really isn’t,” he said. “My campaign team is made up of people who represent all of the different stripes: Liberal, NDP, Green Party, etc.”

Khan said he has zero other political aspirations.

“I will not use Ward 8 as a stepping stone to run for future, higher office,” he said. “I have zero desire to be the MP or MPP.”

Khan owns a city mortgage investment company, Strategic Capital Network, located at 49 Gowan St., property he also owns. It’s near the Allandale station land.

The Correct Group of Companies has filed a $28-million lawsuit against the City of Barrie, alleging breach of contract and bad faith on the city’s part in failed development talks for the old railway station property.

Khan says he has no financial interest in the Allandale train station or any city run project, and therefore no conflict of interest.

“I personally think it’s a little bit ludicrous,” he said. “I have the same interest as everybody else in the Allandale train station area, which is simply, we’d like to see it get done. We’d like to see it get accomplished and I’d like to be a part of that solution.

“But I have no business interest, I’m not invested in it, I have no contracts or any relationships with it and I’m sure if there’s any guidance that I need to follow, I’m sure I’ll follow it.”

Khan reiterated that he would not have a conflict of interest.

“Why would I?” he said. “The train station and GO all went in long before I decided to run as a city councillor. It’s been sitting there stagnant for however many years and the city and the interested parties made their decisions long before I was involved in it and we’ve all got to sit and look at the same eyesore for a number of years.

“I have no dealings with it, I have no dealing with GO or dealings with the city or with any of the interested parties in it. If I was to have any dealings with anybody in the city, I would certainly step back from that.”

Khan says he’s not looking for a honeymoon as a new councillor.

“I know we are in middle of term and there is work to be done, some really pressing issues, that a number of residents are concerned, if not distraught about” he said. “There are so many people that are on fixed incomes who have seen their lives impacted by a slowing economy and they are absolutely livid about the idea of increased user fees and increased taxation, all for the sake of maybe a decade’s worth of poor planning that didn’t position ourselves as a city to be in the right position today.”

Khan said says there are some basic problems with how the city, and by extension council, does business.

“So we have a massive deficit and we have a failing and crumbling infrastructure that needs to be addressed. I think people are tired of the same-old, same-old of hearing that it needs to be put on the shoulders of the taxpayers. I think the formula has been flawed,” he said. “I’ve been telling people this at the door and getting a lot of people in agreement with me.

“The first rule of economics is you don’t build a million homes and then expect the jobs to show up. You first find a way to bring the industry and the people will come to the area to support that industry and I think we need to address that as a city.”

Khan said Barrie needs long-term plans.

“There are so many examples, looking around at other municipalities, where decisions get made to appease people in the short term, that end up 10 times more expensive in the long term and I think we need to really have a little bit of tough love, a little bit of boot-camp type of self-discipline, but I think that will be a huge benefit to our community in the long run,” he said.

“I’d like to bring some fresh ideas to council. I certainly hope that doesn’t start to sound like a broken record, I just truly believe there are ideas that have yet to be exhausted and we need to exhaust those ideas for the betterment of our city.”

Khan has said his learning curve as a new councillor will not be steep, that he will stick to the basics of doing the job.

“I will be here, I will listen, you will meet me and I will be available. I know that for the next few years my life will not be my own and that’s OK. It’s something I’m willing to do. I’m enthusiastic about it,” he said

“We knew that we had the ideas and I know I can bring something to the table in terms of being of assistance to council.”

“I certainly have no intention of being the show on council,” he said.

This isn’t the first time council has dealt with a resignation.

Patrick Brown did it in 2006 when elected Barrie MP, with Eadie appointed to replace him for the remaining seven months of the term.

Brian Norton quit in 2001 after his justice of the peace appointment, and former councillor Rob Warman won the byelection.

The late Anne Black resigned in 2000 for personal reasons and Dave Aspden won the byelection.

Aileen Carroll stepped down in 1997 to become Barrie-area MP. She was replaced by former councillor Shane Mayes for about four months.

Joe Tascona resigned his seat in 1995 after being elected the Barrie-area MPP, with Carroll winning the byelection.

Ward 8 results byelection (unofficial)

Arif Khan – 521 votes, 32.38%

Colin Wilson – 398 votes, 24.74%

Mike Ramsay – 385 votes, 23.93%

Vicki Howe – 140 votes, 8.7%

Don MacNeil – 53 votes, 3.29%

Yolanda Gallo – 46 votes, 2.86%

David Edwards – 22 votes, 1.37%

Ghulan Jilani – 17 votes, 1.06%

Deborah Clarke-Whitehouse – 14 votes, 0.87%

Herb Yetman – 11 votes, 0.68%

Steven Mallon – 2 votes, 0.12

• Voter turnout more than 27%

Source: City of Barrie


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