Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Candidate list grows

The field of candidates for Fort Frances council is shaping up to be a mix of new faces and incumbents.
The most recent individual to file his nomination is Coun. Ken Perry, who is running for one of the six seats along with incumbent Coun. John Albanese and newcomers Jennifer Greenhalgh, Jennifer Horton, and Charleen Mallory.

“I think I’ve made a bit of a difference and I think I can still make a bit of a difference,” said Coun. Perry, who has been on council since January, 2008.
“As we all know, I don’t support everything council has done but the end result is working,” he noted.
“We’re halfway through, or three-quarters of the way through, a whole bunch of things that we’re doing and I just think they need to be finished up,” he reasoned.
Coun. Perry said forest
tenure and the local wood supply is a very important issue right now.
“I think getting control of the forest in the district is the second-most important thing that’s going to happen in Fort Frances in the next few years,” he remarked.
“The first important thing was the mill closed.
“We’re pursuing options at that mill,” Coun. Perry added.
“I’m hoping we’re going to get some things going, but there’s nothing written down, nothing in stone, and maybe nothing will come of it,” he admitted.
“But we’re hoping.”
Coun. Perry said he’s also looking forward to better partnerships with local First Nations in the near future.
“I think in the last five or six months, our relationships with the First Nations, particularly the four bands to the east of us, is way better than it used to be,” he remarked.
“I think they’re probably coming around to our way of thinking, and we’re coming around to their way of thinking, and that’s what makes it work,” he noted.
“To not necessarily agree with everything each other does, but at least understand how we’re thinking.
“We’re close to a few things happening there, too, that will probably come to light within the next little while,” he said.
Coun. Perry also said he’d like to see a casino become a reality here.
“We need to show our support towards a casino,” he stressed.
“It’s not the be-all to end-all in the Rainy River District,” he conceded. “But if we can put in a casino that can employ a pile of people, and bring a whole bunch of economic growth to Fort Frances and the district and the First Nations, we’d be in a lot better shape a year from now.”
Coun. Perry admitted landing a casino here also requires convincing the provincial government, but the town has to try.
“Optimism is a good idea. You’ve got to take a shot at it,” he reasoned.
With nearly seven years’ experience under his belt, Coun. Perry recalled there was “a huge learning curve” during the first two years.
He also said any newcomers running for council should realize it’s all about working as a group.
“You don’t really realize what’s going on until you’re there for a while, and then you get into it,” he explained.
“Right from Day 1, I’ve opposed a lot of the things in the way of making decisions, but at the same time I’ve supported a lot of stuff, too.
“I’ve brought stuff forward that’s been enacted and I’ve brought stuff forward that didn’t get enacted—that’s kind of the way it is,” Coun. Perry added.
“Anyone new coming on thinking they’re going to change the world, it’s pretty big world and you’re a pretty small part of it when you’re on council because there’s seven people making decisions.
“Administration is trying to do their best and guide council on making those decisions, as well,” he noted.
“Without the administration, we wouldn’t get very far.”
Coun. Albanese, who filed his papers Monday morning, said he wants to dedicate another four years to the citizens of Fort Frances.
“There’s a lot of issues we’re dealing with and I’d like to be there to support the council decisions,” he remarked.
“I’ve got lots to offer and I feel I’ve got time,” Coun. Albanese added.
“Instead of sitting on the couch and complaining about it, I might as well be there and trying to protect the interests of the Town of Fort Frances.”
Coun. Albanese said he isn’t the type to leave any project without finishing it, and would like to be re-elected to see through what council currently is working on.
While he had some health issues at the begining of this year, Coun. Albanese said he’s feeling healthy and has been getting plenty of exercise this summer.
“I feel good,” he enthused. “I’m crossing my fingers not to have any bad episodes. We don’t want that.
“I’m up and going every day,” he added. “It keeps me occupied, it keeps me busy.”
Coun. Albanese has been a member of council since September, 2005, when he was appointed following the death of Coun. Struchan Gilson.
Prior to that, he also served on council from 1985-91.
For her part, Greenhalgh, who retired as executive director of Northern Community Development Services this past spring, said she has been connected to the community over the years, including most recently through the Boundary Waters Dragon Boat Races.
She also said she has experience and knowledge to bring to the table.
“I’ve lived here for quite a while—I know I’m a Brit, but I’ve lived here a long while—and I’m very in touch with the community,” she said Monday.
“When you spend a long time in employment, you see all kinds of people come through that door and recognize how important it is for people to have a job,” Greenhalgh added.
“I really believe that the town has to move through this uncomfortable patch we’re in right now, and I believe because I understand about economic development,” she noted.
“It’s very connected to employment, which is near and dear to everybody’s hearts,” she remarked.
“If you haven’t got jobs, everybody’s in trouble.”
If elected, Greenhalgh said she knows the job will be “tough,” but she often has different ideas and likes to seek solutions more than anything else.
“I’m not a person who going to sit there and just look at [a problem],” she vowed.
“I need to get on and do something, and try to help somehow, find opportunities for us.”
Greenhalgh also noted the local population is made up of more than 50 percent women yet currently doesn’t have 50 percent representation in municipal government—and that needs to change.
“I think women do bring a different perspective to business and I think it’s very important a woman’s voice should be there,” she stressed.

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