2018 Fort Frances councillor candidates not seeking 2022 election

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

As the field of candidates begins to grow, two 2018 candidates will not be seeking a seat in council chambers this year.

The 2018 municipal election saw eight candidates run for the six councillor seats. The two candidates that did not make the cut were Harold Huntley with 1,228 votes, and Clinton Gray with 1,085 votes.

Gray said he will not seek election because he now lives in a different municipality, making him ineligible to run for Fort Frances Town council. Huntley also said he will not run for the 2022 election, mainly because he does not have the energy for it.

“I think that I will just let the younger people do their duty,” he said.

Huntley, now 73 years old, ran twice in a row in 2014 and 2018, polling seventh in both election years. In 2018, he lost to Rick Wiedenhoeft, who secured 1,562 votes. In 2014, he had 911 votes, losing to Doug Kitowski, who made it to the council chambers with 1,039 votes.

Although Huntley does not intend to run, he is keeping a close eye on what is happening around the council table. Huntley said he is displeased with the sitting council’s performance.

“It’s personalities more than anything else,” Huntley said, citing his experience as a school board trustee.

“That’s not the way I look at public service. I was a school trustee for 12 years. There was a spokesman for the school board. The spokesperson for the town should be the mayor, and I do not think that’s the case. I don’t think under these circumstances I could properly function as positively as I would like to.”

Huntley resides on Sunset Drive and said had he been on the sitting council table, he would have fought hard against renaming Colonization Roads East and West. The road names were officially changed on January 1st of this year.

Huntley said this council and the one to be elected should set a priority of having the mill location cleaned up from the demolition debris. He is also concerned about the status of the International Bridge and its ownership.

Another item council should work on, Huntley said, is seniors housing. Having been on the Columbus Place board for 25 years, and judging by the waitlist, Huntley said there is a strong need for more senior apartments in Fort Frances.

“We are demographically one of the oldest communities in Ontario. We’ve got a lot of seniors who would love to be in a place where it was safe and clean,” Huntley said. “And they didn’t have to worry about snow removal and lawn mowing.”

Huntley retired from the teaching profession in 2000 after being in the education sector for 33 years, the last 13 as a school principal, after which he was elected as a trustee. He said he left the school board when he was no longer enjoying his time.

“If it’s not going to be something that you enjoy doing, then I can’t see committing to it,” Huntley said. “It’s going to be hard to find people who want to run in this town after what’s happened over the last three years.”

Huntley said he is now involved in activities that bring him joy, including as president of daytime curling, president of the Loch la Pluie Scotch Club and serving on the Columbus Place board.

“I do not need any stress in my life,” he said. “When you reach a certain point in your life, one of the factors that shortens your life is stress and I see a lot of that happening with our present council.”