By Mike Pearson, News staff
He’s competed in numerous Boston Marathons. Now Vince Rigitano is preparing for what could be his most gruelling race as he takes on Ward 11 councillor Brenda Johnson in the Oct. 27 municipal election.
Rigitano, 60, said the Fruitland and Winona areas should embrace development to pave the way for new businesses and better infrastructure. HSR bus service should be enhanced citywide instead of light rail transit and politicians should treat taxpayer money like their own, he said.
The Stoney Creek businessman, who lives in Ward 10, chose to run in Ward 11 because he feels the area may not be living up to its full development potential.
“We need more growth in Ward 11,” said Rigitano, who supports the development targets of the Fruitland-Winona Secondary Plan.
“You can’t stop progress. We like to be the small community we used to be years ago, (but) I don’t think that’s the case anymore,” he said.
Current councillor Brenda Johnson has repeatedly opposed the secondary plan, arguing the density target of 70 persons and jobs per hectare is too high, among other concerns. The plan was nevertheless approved by city council on April 23. Local residents have since pledged to appeal the decision at the Ontario Municipal Board.
Rigitano said city council needs fresh faces to make key decisions on local issues without hiring expensive outside consultants.
“What I’ve noticed is a lack of cooperation on city council,” he said. “They don’t work as a team; they work as individuals.”
Rigitano said council lacked direction when it failed to reach a timely consensus on the Pan Am stadium location.
“It took so long to make a decision on the stadium; it took so much time and money and in the end a decision was made to build the stadium right where it was, which to me was the wrong thing to do,” said Rigitano, who favoured a new stadium at Confederation Park.
Rigitano said the stadium issue is one of many decisions that should have been made by elected officials, not outside consultants.
“We hire (councillors) to make decisions, not to hire others that spend more money,” said Rigitano. “City hall should be managed like a private business.”
Rigitano wants to freeze municipal wages and hold the line on property taxes.
A native of the Calabria region of southern Italy, Rigitano came to Canada in the 1970s and worked for a mattress manufacturer for more than 30 years.
In 2010, he founded Stoney Creek’s Primo Sleep mattress discounter and has recently partnered with a Burlington mattress discounter. Rigitano now works on a part-time basis and has promised to devote his full attention to his constituents if elected.
As the campaign progresses, Rigitano hopes to visit all areas of Ward 11, including Mount Hope and Binbrook, to learn more about what voters want.
Instead of jumping on the LRT bandwagon, Rigitano wants the city to enhance HSR bus service both above and below the escarpment, including areas now served by the Trans-Cab shared ride taxi service.
For example, he said bus service should be extended from the Hamilton-Niagara border at Fifty Road to Hamilton’s west end. Bus service along Barton Street currently ends at Jones Road, with Trans-Cab services in place for the remainder of the route.
“Expanding HSR is much better than LRT,” said Rigitano. “Extending HSR is less costly.”
When he’s training for a marathon, Rigitano likes to run between 60 and 70 kilometres weekly. An avid runner during his youth, Rigitano once aspired to run the 1,500-metre event for the Italian Olympic team, but relinquished the dream to help support his family.
Rigitano had already crossed the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon when bomb blasts killed three people and injured 264 others.
Despite the incident, he returned for this year’s race, shaving 11 minutes off his 2013 mark with a time of three hours, 24 minutes and 54 seconds.