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Morales going for third council term in south end

'I tend to be pretty independent and stand by my principles,' says Ward 9 incumbent
Sergio Morales is seeking a third term on Barrie city council.

Editor's note: BarrieToday is running profile stories on candidates for city council in each of the city's 10 wards. For more election coverage, visit our 2022 municipal election page by clicking here, where you can also find mayoral profiles and other election news. 

Sergio Morales says he’s all about getting things done.

Running for this third term as Ward 9 councillor in Barrie, Morales has a to-do list of what he wants done during the next four years — starting with a new $84-million-plus recreation centre that includes a library branch.

It’s scheduled for construction during the next three years, but Morales says it’s a sliding target.

“My specific priority will be ensuring that it does not get delayed or kicked back in the capital plan, within reason,” he said. “That is a necessary piece of municipal infrastructure that’s long overdue for the south end.”

Morales, 29, a real estate investor by profession, says 90 per cent of the recreation centre’s cost will be covered by development charges which are designed to recover the capital costs associated with residential and non-residential (commercial, industrial, institutional) growth within a municipality from developers so that existing residents don’t have to foot the bill.

The other 10 per cent would come from general tax dollars, but Morales hopes to reduce that with naming rights and sponsorship revenues.

And he has even more basic priorities.

“Getting a grocery store built for southeast Barrie, preferably a discount grocery store, is a big priority I’m hearing from residents,” he said, noting premium grocery stores are problematic for those on low or fixed incomes, especially when inflation is considered.

Morales said he’d like to cut red tape that prevents a grocer from locating in industrial zoned land or help facilitate its construction elsewhere.

He’d also like to apply for and secure record levels of federal and provincial grants and funding to hold the line on property tax increases.

“Residents already pay provincial and federal taxes,” Morales said. “It’s up to city council to bring that money back to Barrie to get value to (help pay for) services residents get.”

Morales says he’s also about finding solutions quickly to some city problems.

“One of the things that council can do the quickest is hire more bylaw (enforcement) officers,” he said. “Barrie is no longer a small town, where reactive property standard approaches are acceptable. Proactive property standard enforcement is what Barrie needs right now. Hiring more bylaw officers is key.”

And Morales would like the next council to get along better.

“People need to listen and respect each other,” he said. “When a group of people working together have respect for each other, every single interaction after that has the potential to be productive, whether they agree with each other or not.

“If people don’t respect each other from the get-go, then they’re not listening to each other, they’re just waiting for the other people to finish talking so they can say their point. But if they (councillors) bring that sense of listen first and establish a sense of respect for their colleagues, I’m very excited about the synergy the new team could have.”

With Mayor Jeff Lehman not seeking a fourth term, the next council will also have new leadership.

“I used to think that the mayor was just one vote, but the mayor can be more than that,” Morales said. “The mayor is the leader of council that inspires individual councillors and with the potential to have a high number of rookie councillors, the mayor’s impact is going to be big.

“The next mayor of Barrie will have the opportunity to…bring out the best in everybody at the table.”

Morales said if re-elected, he will continue to vote independently, call out distractions and waste, and focus on core city services. 

“Or ask the tough questions that nobody wants to say out loud,” he said, whether that be to the County of Simcoe or Georgian College. “I tend to be pretty independent and stand by my principles.” 

Morals has a bachelor of commerce from the University of Guelph, with a major in real estate and housing, and a concentration in economics.

Also running for Ward 9 councillor is Norman Costello and William Rome.

Nominations close Aug. 19 for the Oct. 24 Barrie election.