Front-runners face off in Windsor mayoral debate

Front-runners face off in Windsor mayoral debate
Watch: Dilkens and Marchand square off in Chamber debate
Matt Marchand and Drew Dilkens are set to meet in the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce presents the 2018 Windsor Mayoral Debate. Dax Melmer / Windsor Star

Drew Dilkens and Matt Marchand, two of the five mayoral candidates, participated in the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce 2018 Windsor Mayoral Debate and Luncheon.

Drew Dilkens and Matt Marchand faced off for yet another mayoral debate in Windsor, this time without the three other candidates.

Incumbent Dilkens and challenger Marchand are perceived as the front-runners in what has been considered a two-man battle for the top seat on council.

With only two candidates on stage, each one had some time to rip into their opponent as they answered questions on how they plan on fighting crime, solving homelessness and making sure the taxpayers' money is well spent.

Dilken reminded people of Marchand's time at city hall, referring to the issues with the Canderel project and former investments into the parking garages downtown.

He brought out a stack of what he said are the 37 audits PricewaterhouseCoopers has taken, an external company that conducts audits on city hall in place of an in-house auditor general.

He said there's a reason why only two municipalities out of 444 in Ontario have an auditor general, excluding City of Toronto.

"It doesn't improve your life. This is about you and doing what's right for you," said Dilkens.

When the mic was thrown back to Marchand, he did not defend the Canderel project or the parking garage money. He only emphasized that an external auditor is not appointed under the Auditor General Act.

"There's big resistance to getting an auditor general. People don't want to look at the books," said Marchand.

Throughout the debate, Dilkens pointed to his record as he answered the questions — from the affordable housing plans to funding city's arts and culture activities.

On the other hand, Marchand repeatedly mentioned one of his platforms — Windsor 2022 — on fighting homelessness, opioid and crime with a focus on the city's downtown.

He criticized Dilkens' plan to bring in additional police officers and adding surveillance cameras in the city to deter crime.

However, he did not mention specifically what crime prevention strategies he would take with the exception of hiring additional staff for the Drugs and Guns Enforcement Unit.

Marchand further said Windsor police have the highest number of officers on some type of leave and the city needs to bring them back to the workforce.

Dilkens slammed that remark, saying it's untrue and it shows Marchand "will say anything he has to say to try and get elected."

Colin McMahon said the two candidates are running on "two completely different campaigns," where Marchand comes off as more community-oriented while Dilkens is plan and budget-oriented.

"You've got the heart on one side and you've got the numbers and the math on the other side. It's a really big toss up between the two of them," he said.

There are three other candidates running for the seat of mayor in Windsor: Frank Dyck, Tom Hensel and Ernie Lamont.

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