As former president of the Greater Sudbury Taxpayer's Association, Melanson and his group frequently criticized city council in the last four years, for everything from firing the ombudsman to the size of city property tax increases.
That anti-city hall message has been picked up by other mayoral candidates, including Richard Majkot, who had a high-profile dispute with city staff over a road on his property, and Brian Bigger, the former internal auditor whose adversarial relationship with city staff and council has been widely publicized since he took office in 2009.
Bigger came out swinging last week, accusing councillors of effectively axing his department by moving the senior auditor in his office to the finance department until after the Oct. 27 municipal election. Bigger took an unpaid leave to run for mayor, beginning Aug. 11. Audit committee chair Fran Caldarelli denied the claim, saying the office was “on pause” until a new mayor and council are in place with a fresh mandate.
While not addressing any particular candidate, Melanson said voters deserve to hear what candidates would do if they are elected, not just what they're angry about.
“It's easy to sit back and criticize and say, 'this is wrong, that is wrong,' but how about bringing something forward that says this is how you address it, or this is how I will address it,” he said. “Ultimately, it's the responsibility of the people running to put forth a full and balanced platform that not only identifies problems, but provides solutions.”
Melanson is one of nine candidates running to replace Marianne Matichuk, who announced in June she wasn't seeking re-election. Melanson formerly backed Matichuk and supports making the auditor general department a permanent part of the city. Problems at Tom Davies Square are well known, he said, and what will separate the candidates are the ideas they have to address them.
“Everyone knows what the problems are in this city. From here on out, we're going to start defining our solutions to those problems. That's the way we'll go from here.”
A record number of candidates are vying for election to city council this year, where a new mayor and as many as six new city councillors will be elected. It's the biggest turnover since Greater Sudbury was created in 2001, and represents the first time a new mayor will come into office without a largely incumbent city council to win over.
It's an opportunity candidates shouldn't take lightly, Melanson said.
“Your campaign is a reflection of how you are going to be as mayor,” he said. “And if all you have is the identification of problems, but you don't have any proposed solutions, or direction you want to take the city in, that's probably what you're going to get as a mayor.
“(But) that's the thing about a democracy – anyone who feels they they have something valid to bring forward can get involved in the electoral process. And Sept. 12 (the deadline to enter the race) is still a ways a way, so I wouldn't be surprised to see someone else get in.”