For Devon Hein, Saskatoon’s mayoral race is all about getting back to the basics.
“I’ve heard what the voters really want,” he said. “Which is to focus on (the) core issues of roads, reducing crime, and zero tax increases.”
The mayoral candidate appeared on the final edition of Candidate’s Row with Brent Loucks Thursday to explain why voters should put his name on the ballot come Oct. 26.
He said city hall has gotten away from its basic responsibilities, and his opponents aren’t offering a solution.
“When they talk about programs and big service expansions and creating more dependency on city hall, they’re saying they do not respect taxpayers,” he said.
Hein criticized Don Atchison and Charlie Clark as insider candidates who have made decision that have allowed debt to balloon in Saskatoon. He also labeled Kelley Moore as an insider, saying her time as a city planner also led to debt increases.
The most controversial part of the interview came when Candidate’s Row host Brent Loucks asked Hein how he would help The Lighthouse Supported Living after funding cuts from the province.
The question led to the mayoral contender expressing concerns about crime surrounding the facility.
“When you warehouse people you’re going to create unanticipated situations,” he said. “Some of the problem that’s happening at the Lighthouse (is) organized crime sort of using it as a base at times and things like that.”
650 CKOM has not learned of any organized criminal activity based out of the facility at this time.
Hein continued, saying the Lighthouse is drawing attention in a negative way.
“There’s crime happening around that facility all the time now,” he said.
He suggested city hall’s concern should be focused on those who “really need the help,” referring to those who have been evicted from apartments due to rising rents. He blamed those rent increases on Saskatoon’s tax increases.
As for the Lighthouse’s clients who suffer from mental illness and addiction, Hein said there are other organizations that can take care of them.
“There’s a large lineup of people who want to expand that taxpayer use,” he said.
He noted if tax dollars were to be used to address Lighthouse issues, the money would have to be “used correctly and managed efficiently.”
SHELVING PROJECTS, ‘GETTING OUT OF THE WAY’
The born-and-raised Saskatonian repeatedly denounced big projects throughout the interview. He said taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for his opponents’ visions to “tear Saskatoon apart and rebuild it.”
Hein specifically said he wouldn’t consider building a new downtown arena.
“I would shelf all those kinds of projects,” he said. “Private industry is more than capable of handling that kind of project and the city just has to get out of the way of it.”
Likewise, he criticized platform points from Clark and Moore to commit to in-fill development and to limit urban sprawl.
He said the sprawl was directly caused by programs within city hall that forced developers to the outskirts of the city. He noted it should be left up to those developers where they want to build.
“You’re just telling developers how to run their business,” he said. “They know what they need to do.”
HOLDING THE LINE ON TAXES
One of Hein’s main platform points is to strive for a zero per cent tax increase.
Loucks asked the candidate how he would reach the number.
“It’s just a matter of focusing the city’s budgets and the economy on core issues,” he said.
Hein added while he would try to hold the line, his opponents appear to be trying to “outspend each other” without regard for taxpayer dollars.
While most of his message has been to keep Saskatoon focused on roads, crime and taxes, Hein indicated on the program that transit is a key issue in the city.
He noted people who use public transit are very important to the economy, and they need to be able to travel between work and home efficiently.
He said a new functional system preventing riders from waiting outside in the cold for long periods of time is possible without spending more money.
“It’s very easy to do if you focus on the core issues again and get away from building gigantic projects,” he said.
Hein dismissed his latest polling numbers, saying the only poll that matters is the one on election day.
In Mainstreet/Postmedia’s latest survey he pulled in four per cent support, a distant fourth in the mayoral race.
Hein said he may be able to pull in support from the 21 per cent of voters who are undecided, and take away support from other candidates as voters hear his platform.
He added his campaign will be releasing more detailed policies on “fiscal responsibility” over the next few weeks as Oct. 26 nears.