Chris Fletcher hopes for a clean sweep of Pelham Town Hall
BY REBECCA LOTT
Special to the VOICE
Remember Fletcher pianos? Council candidate Chris Fletcher was the owner of the well-known piano retail business for 25 years. He is now technically retired but still tunes pianos around the country. He is one of the only ones left who still does it by ear.
Fletcher is now looking to tune the Town of Pelham. He is running in Ward 2, where there will be two vacant spots, with current Councillor Catherine King not running for re-election and Councillor Gary Accursi running for mayor.
Fletcher, 68, is married to Lorelei Secord, also a musician. They have two grown children, Christopher and Emily. Secord’s father, Ron, was part of the political scene in Pelham years ago. With his help, Fletcher ran for mayor back in the ‘80s, but lost in a stiff race to Eric Bergenstein.
Fletcher began to take an interest in the local political scene as part of the D.E.B.T. taxpayers group, which lobbied the Region for help in getting answers regarding Pelham’s financial situation.
“The debt we have now my kids will be paying for,” he said.
After many meetings, Fletcher felt they still weren’t given real answers.
St. Catharines Regional Councillor Walter Sendzik challenged the group’s members to vote differently in the next election if they didn’t like the answers they were getting. Fletcher took that challenge seriously.
Fletcher has sat on various committees around the Town and supports a full reset.
“We need a whole new council,” he said. “We don’t have any confidence in them anymore. We get no answers. There’s no communication. People are feeling left out.”
Fletcher has also followed the recent developments regarding home-hotels, such as Airbnbs, in Pelham. He says that residents’ concerns were not heard by the Town, leaving them feeling frustrated. His primary goal is to get the lines of communication back up between the town and the people.
“In a small town we rely on them to regulate things for us. People have to rely on council to be honest with them. The not knowing is driving them nuts. And they should have the right to know.”
Fletcher has lived in Fonthill for 45 years and has seen a lot of change in that time. He says it isn’t the quaint place it once was. His aggravation with the climate at Town Hall is evident as he speaks. Integrity is next on Fletcher’s platform.
“I’ll do it to the best of my ability,” he said. “People can come to me. I’ll want them to know I’m available. I love working with people. We need to reestablish integrity.”
Following that, transparency is something he would like to see addressed. “I’m tired of hearing it because it’s really not happening. I was thinking that the Mayor could keep the town informed of projects and upcoming changes or things of that nature via a “Mayors Report” [but] not a self-serving promotion.”
Fletcher asserts that many residents are not happy with downtown and its lack of parking.
“We’ve lost our Niagara-on-the-Lake charm,” he said. “Retailers are suffering.”
He also feels the town is growing at too quick a pace. He says everyone still knows everyone in Fonthill, but that is beginning to change.
“I think we need to slow it down,” he said. “It’ a shame that the nice land is disappearing.”
Fletcher would like to see a heritage committee become active again, and for growth in the Town to be more closely managed.
For many years Fletcher helped people in his business, but now he feels he has the time to help the people of Pelham.
“What you see is what you get with me,” he said. “I have no hidden agenda. So many feelings have been hurt. I want to get back to being honest with people. It’s a sad thing when people are afraid to speak up for fear of retribution.”
“There’s definitely something wrong up there, and we need to fix it,” said Fletcher. “We need to clean house and start fresh.”