By: Laurie Watt, Barrie Advance
BARRIE – Arif Khan can pause to enjoy spending time with his two daughters before he begins his work as Ward 8 councillor.
Elected Monday, Khan will be sworn into office Dec. 17.
But the race to winning the seat vacated by Jennifer Robinson this summer has been long and intense, he said.
First out of the gate at 8:43 a.m. Aug. 28 – the morning after city council decided to hold a by-election to fill the seat – Khan said he’s anxious to get to work.
“The first job to is to kiss my kids, who I haven’t seen in three months. I’ve kissed them in the morning when they’ve been asleep and at night when they were asleep,” the father of Isabella, 8, and Emma, 10, said Khan, who volunteered on campaigns for both MP Patrick Brown and MPP Rod Jackson.
“I was first to get out of the gate because it was something I was very passionate about. I was up against some pretty stiff competition.”
Ward 8 attracted a total of 11 candidates, including federal Liberal candidate Colin Wilson, who came in second, with 398 votes, or 24.74 per cent of the vote, compared to Khan, who, with 521 votes, garnered 32.3 per cent. Just behind Wilson was former Ward 1 Coun. Mike Ramsay – a veteran councillor who ran for mayor in 2010 – with 385. Fourth place finisher was Vicki Howe, with 140 – a non-political businesswoman whose volunteer experience includes the Golden Mile BIA and the Downtown Barrie BIA and Barrie’s economic development advisory committee.
Co-owner of Strategic Capital Network Inc., Khan said he’s eager to bring residents’ concerns to the council table.
“We’re in the middle of a term and there’s work to be done and there are some really pressing issues that many residents are distraught about. There are so many people on fixed incomes or seeing their livelihood impacted. They can’t afford new taxes or levies.
“We have a massive debt and failing infrastructure that needs to be addressed.”
Khan is fiscally conservative.
In fact, he consistently votes Conservative or Progressive Conservative, but he says he plans to work with others on council regardless of their political leanings.
“I made it very clear I will not use Ward 8 as a stepping stone. We have a fantastic single MP who is dedicated. I have a friend who I grew up with since I was 13 in our MPP,” Khan said.
“I will absolutely support our mayor as long as he wants the job,” he said of Jeff Lehman, a Liberal.
“On a municipal level, there is no party politics. My team is made up of people representing the different political stripes. We found common ground on what’s important: taxes, safe water, garbage collection.”
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