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Voting underway for Simcoe BIA

A full-fledged election campaign in underway in downtown Simcoe.For the first time in the 40-year history of the Simcoe BIA, Norfolk council has invited qualified business and property owners to vote for a slate of candidates to sit on its board of directors.Voting began Monday at the clerk’s department at Governor Simcoe Square. Balloting ends next Monday, June 24 at noon. Fifteen candidates are vying for eight positions. They are, in alphabetical order:Les Anderson, a former municipal politician and – until April 30 – owner of the It’s All Norfolk store on Norfolk Street South. Jess Bommarito, winner of the Norfolk planning department’s “Win This Space” contest for free use of a downtown storefront at the corner of Peel Street and Norfolk Street South. Bommarito’s business is called Groundswell Co-working. Joe Botscheller, a tax specialist with Tax2000 in Simcoe, Woodstock and Tillsonburg since 1993 and a partner in the Magic Piper children’s wear store on Norfolk Street North since 1986. Cam Carter, the third-generation owner of Carter’s Men’s and Ladies’ Wear on Norfolk Street South. Suzanne Earls, artist and owner of the Pieceful Arts store on Robinson Street. Carol Greentree, a supervisor with Job Links and a civilian appointee to the Norfolk Police Services Board. Brian Jones, sales representative with MyFM and a resident of the BIA zone for nearly 20 years. David Lopes, a pharmacist at Roulstons on Norfolk Street South. Tiffany Niece, owner of the Sloth and Molasses gift shop/artisan outlet on Norfolk Street South. Melinda Mulder, owner of Melinda’s Enchanted Cottage on Peel Street, with a second similar location in Port Dover. Birgir Robertsson, owner of The Viking Bakery on Norfolk Street South. Nick Shafto, manager of Max Discount Convenience on Colborne Street South. Debbie Solymar of Simcoe, an educational assistant with the Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk Catholic District School Board. Kate Vandendriessche, a human resources manager and co-owner of J and L Wakeford Inc. Dustin Wakeford, owner of Max Discount Convenience on Colborne Street South and co-creator of Radio Free Norfolk podcasts. Qualified electors must provide proof of tenancy in the BIA zone before they receive a ballot. This could be in the form of a tax bill, invoice, utility bill or similar document.Businesses in the BIA are allowed only one ballot. Each qualified voter is eligible to vote for a maximum of eight candidates.The Simcoe BIA board of directors is an arms-length subcommittee of Norfolk council. Ballot results will be presented to Norfolk council next Tuesday, at which time council is expected to ratify a new board.Norfolk council took the extraordinary step of calling an election last month after some BIA stakeholders expressed dissatisfaction with the former appointment process.Some suggested the BIA – which is responsible for promoting and beautifying the core – had become a closed shop and was no longer responsive to the wishes of the general membership. There were concerns the BIA might wither away and council did not want that to happen.The Simcoe BIA is funded by a special levy on properties in the BIA zone. The BIA budget this year is in the range of $200,000.MSonnenberg@postmedia.com

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