Schaefer is East Zorra-Tavistock's First Mayoral Candidate


  • News   Thu, Jun 23rd, 2022   Lee Griffi



By Lee Griffi
Tavistock native and resident Phil Schaefer has decided to run for mayor of the township. Schaefer, who is serving his first term as a Ward One council member, says he is ready for the top job. "I feel it is a position I can do. I've got the councillor experience, I've got financial experience from my days with the bank, and I have the best interests of the township at heart. I grew up here; this is my hometown. It's just something I think I am up to, and I can be a positive force for the township." Other than being on the road for a few years with Scotiabank, Schaefer has called Tavistock home most of his life.
EZT has been able to keep tax hikes very low for the last few years, something Schaefer says may be a challenge going forward. "Inflation is a concern to everyone right now, and it affects municipal budgets as well. I feel my background in banking can be of value in managing costs as well as possible in order to keep our tax rates low for people already burdened by higher and higher everyday costs."
The township's Master Parks and Recreation Plan is nearing completion, and Schaefer says he wants to be a part of improving recreation for residents. "It gets presented to council at our next meeting in July, and I am looking forward to seeing it. We have waited quite a while for it, and I really want to see what the ideas are in it and move forward. Recreation is an area where we do need to look at how we can provide more services that people want." Schaefer adds he is still very much in favour of a spray pad, an idea that has been put on the shelf during the pandemic.
The current township building has reached the limit of its usefulness, and Schaefer says it is time to proceed with a new headquarters. "It will be built on the land across the street from our current office, and I am pretty sure the land was acquired well before this council was elected. We've got people working in trailers out behind, the septic is problematic right now, and we have no room to meet as a council. A lot of things have delayed it, including a municipal review that was done back in 2018, and then COVID came along. We are due." There was talk of the township potentially purchasing the former Somers building in Tavistock, but Schaefer says it just wasn't the right fit. "We already owned the property in Hickson and while the Somers building was a good property, it wasn't the location we wanted. It was also more than twice as big as we needed so we had to pass on it." Schaefer adds the township has excellent staff who, day in and day out, perform council's wishes in a professional manner. "They deserve adequate facilities, and it is an important factor in retaining and attracting staff."
"I want to serve to maintain the quality of life we have here and to help the township grow and also be a voice in the county on Oxford County Council," he adds. The relationship between the county and its member municipalities isn't as strong as it could be, an outgoing sentence county CAO Michael Duben mentioned in last week's Gazette. "The county is a big part of our daily lives when you look at the services they provide. The only way to really fix it is for them to maintain a really good, quality service, and I think they have in many cases. They also need to remind people they are here for them, and they are really the same as the local council but providing services on our behalf." He adds he will be a strong voice for all residents of the township, regardless of where they live.
To view a list of all certified candidates for the upcoming election, go to https://www.ezt.ca/en/township-office/unofficial-list-of-candidates.aspx. The only other candidate to file papers to date is Jeremy Smith, who is seeking re-election in Ward Three.