Few candidates stepping forward so far

FORT FRANCES—With just over three weeks left to file nomination papers for the 2006 municipal election slated for Nov. 13, only a few candidates have stepped forward so far in communities outside Fort Frances.
Two Alberton councillors have decided to run. Coun. Doug Mitchell would like to retain his seat on council while Coun. Mike Ford is vying to take over the position of reeve.
Current reeve Mike Hammond and Coun. Louis Collier have opted not to seek re-election.
In La Vallee, only Reeve Emily Watson has filed her papers to run again.
Over in Emo, Coun. Harriet (Harri) Sheloff is seeking re-election, with newcomer Daniel Young also running for a seat. Margaret Heyens, meanwhile, is looking to retain her seat on the Rainy River District School Board.
In Chapple, Coun. Peter Van Heyst is looking to step up as reeve while Couns. Rilla Race and Rick Neilson have decided to run for council again.
Morley only has Maury Nielson seeking a seat on council while the Township of Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls has not seen any nominations papers filed so far.
But there is speculation in several townships that other individuals are planning to file their nomination papers before the Sept. 29 deadline.
“People always wait to the last minute,” noted Reeve Watson. “In fact, we [La Vallee] looked back to see when people had signed up in the past and it was toward the end of September.”
She noted potential candidates are weighing the fact that municipal terms are being extended to four years from three starting with this election.
“It is a longer commitment, so people need to really think about that before they decide,” Reeve Watson remarked.
But Coun. Ford in Alberton said the longer term does not concern him.
“In three years you just get the ball rolling,” he responded with a chuckle, adding being on council has been a rewarding experience and decided it’s time to take the next step.
“I want to lead the rest of the councillors in achieving the goal of more business improvement,” he stressed. “It’s going to increase our tax base, which ideally, in a perfect world, would reflect in lower property taxes.
“And I want to make sure Alberton does retain it’s rural identity.”
Chapple’s Coun. Van Heyst would like to see an abattoir built in the area and hopes his municipality can contribute to that.
“The council we’ve had has always been able to work together real well, each bringing their own unique background to the table and I’d like to see it again,” he stressed.
Reeve Watson said she’s enjoyed her past three years in office and is again ready for the challenge.
“In our municipality, we struggle to spread our tax dollars around so our taxpayers get services and we try to keep the taxes down,” she remarked.
“And I’m sure we’re going to continue to be challenged because of our geographic location over the next term,” she conceded. “Providing services is important, but we have to speak up for our constituents and I’m certainly willing to do that.”
Coun. Ford, Reeve Watson, and Coun. Van Heyst said they would like to see an election race in their respective townships, rather than just acclamations.
“It would be nice if, in general, more people did fill out nominations just to get some interest in municipal politics,” Coun. Ford said. “I’d like to see some new faces, fresh ideas.
“There seems to be a misconception that you have to have gray hair to be in politics.”
“I’m encouraging anyone who has an interest in municipal politics to put their name in—it’s a good experience,” echoed Reeve Watson.
But Coun. Van Heyst isn’t convinced they will see many names put forward this year.
“Not if history repeats itself,” he added. “In the past not many people have run. I’ve been a councillor for 15 years and I’ve only seen one or two people compete.”
While Reeve Watson noted the last election in 2003 was a “very quiet race” between her and former reeve Ken McKinnon, she feels it is important for residents to know where the candidates stand.
“There was no opportunity for that besides people calling us at home to ask us what our position was,” she indicated. “But I’m always open to people calling me.
“I’m in the book and people are welcome to call me at any time if they have questions or concerns about anything in the municipality.”
If you are interested in running for a seat on council or the local school boards, contact the municipal clerk in your community.
The deadline to file nomination papers is Sept. 29.
(Fort Frances Times)