Promising interest

It’s great to see that interest in the upcoming municipal election here already is taking shape—well before the nomination deadline of Friday, Sept. 29 at 5 p.m.
To his credit, Mayor Dan Onichuk let it be known way back in January that he would be seeking a second term. Then last Wednesday, Coun. Roy Avis announced his bid to seek the mayor’s chair come Nov. 13.
Meanwhile, two formally joined the fray for council last week—former Fort Frances High School teacher Andrew Hallikas (also a longtime local rep with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation) and former councillor Sharon Tibbs, who lost to Mr. Onichuk in the mayor’s race back in 2003.
As well, most of the current council last week indicated their intention to run again, with only Coun. Tannis Drysdale saying she was still unsure.
The early interest is promising on two accounts. First, it’s gratifying to see local residents are willing to serve in public office—especially given they are being asked (thanks to the province) to commit to a four-year term starting with this election, rather than the traditional three-year one.
Secondly, at a time when Fort Frances is facing so many challenges (from the mill’s future to our crumbling sewer and water infrastructure, not to mention the troubling decline in tourism), voters deserve as much time as possible to weigh the choices before having to select who they’d like to hold such important positions.
Hopefully, even more candidates step forward well before Sept. 29—both here and in communities across the district. For starters, a large field typically means more fresh ideas during the campaign, which is precisely what voters want—and need—to hear.
It also indicates a healthy interest in municipal government that is critical to ensuring our respective communities successfully navigate the potentially rocky road ahead.