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Cary Tarasoff announces mayoral bid, takes aim at Saskatoon’s debt

Click to play video 'Mayoral candidate Cary Tarasoff on funding plans, infill focus' Mayoral candidate Cary Tarasoff on funding plans, infill focus
WATCH: Saskatoon's latest mayoral candidate Cary Tarasoff joins Global News Morning to discuss some of his plans if he were to take the city's top spot, including halting funding to major projects and focusing on infills.

Architectural technologist and planner Cary Tarasoff is the fourth candidate to officially announce he’s vying for Saskatoon’s top job.

Tarasoff announced his bid Friday morning, laying out potential points for a platform that would focus largely on civic debt.

Saskatoon is $331 million in debt, according to the city’s annual report for 2019.

As mayor, Tarasoff said he would avoid adding to that debt by steering clear of some large-scale projects and limiting the purchase of land for said projects.

Read more: Former city planning director raises Saskatoon development issues entering municipal election

“Stop the grand schemes, which are going to drive us further into debt,” said Tarasoff, who is not accepting political donations for his campaign.

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“We have to start having smarter development and we need to start having it so that private development comes in and does it, instead of us funding it all the time.”

A new library and arena are unnecessary, he said, especially given the economic challenges caused by the pandemic.

He said he would also like to see less focus on expanding the city outward, instead prioritizing infill.

‘We need decisions’

Tarasoff has a long list of position statements on his website on various civic topics, from bike lanes (he’s not a fan of current infrastructure) to climate change (he wants Saskatoon to convert its power from coal to natural gas).

No matter the topic, Tarasoff said he would like to see less debate at city hall and more timely solutions to local problems.

“We need decisions instead of mediations,” he said.

“What we need right now are leaders, so I would tell the other candidates either lead, follow or get out of the way.”

When it comes to pressing social issues, Tarasoff said he does not support defunding the Saskatoon Police Service, but noted mental health calls should not be offloaded onto officers.

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Read more: Tarasoff testifies at 2014 O’Hagan murder trial

He also said more needs to be done to help people with addictions.

“Safe consumption sites have a place in this city,” he said. “They need to be run a certain way, so that you don’t congregate a whole bunch of bad activity around them; that’s my worry.”

The other three candidates in the running are Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark, former Saskatchewan Party MLA Rob Norris and engineer and business owner Zubair Sheikh. Entrepreneur Mark Zielke has said he will launch his mayoral campaign at the end of summer.

Norris was first to announce his bid at the end of June, expressing concerns about a lack of accountability in the mayor’s office, neighbourhood safety and the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the city.

“I will urgently work to help each and every person and family in this great city that we call home,” he said at the time.

Norris said his policy positions will come at a later date.

Click to play video 'Mayoral candidate on spending plans, theme park proposal' Mayoral candidate on spending plans, theme park proposal
Mayoral candidate on spending plans, theme park proposal

Clark indicated that if re-elected, he’ll rely on his institutional knowledge of city hall to navigate the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“With the right approach, we can build on the strengths that we have seen shine through during this pandemic crisis — like collaboration, caring and problem-solving — and come out even stronger on the other side,” Clark said on July 29.

He doesn’t plan on campaigning formally until September.

Earlier this week, Sheikh became the third person to announce his candidacy. Like Tarasoff, he’s touting fiscal responsibility as a platform promise and said the city should not spend nearly to $70 million on a new library.

“To be a mayor of a city you have to be a good businessman,” said Sheikh, who runs an engineering firm.

“Once I have the city budget in front of me, then we can see what we have to cut down.”

The civic election is scheduled for Nov. 9. You can find more coverage of the upcoming election here.

-With files from Nathaniel Dove and David Giles.