Meet the candidates for Assiginack, Northeast Town and Tehkummah

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MANITOULIN—With the upcoming Manitoulin Island municipal elections taking place October 24, The Expositor will be profiling the candidates for mayor/reeve and councillor positions in all those municipalities that elections will take place.

This week we are profiling candidates in the municipalities of Assiginack, Tehkummah and the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands (NEMI).

In Assiginack, there will be an election for both the position of mayor and the four council seats. Incumbent Dave Ham is seeking re-election for another term along with Brenda Reid, who has served as a councillor previously. There are a total of 10 candidates running for one of four seats on council, including incumbents Rob Maguire and Christianna Jones along with Dene Banger, Janice Bowerman, Dwayne Elliott, Theo Flikweert, Jennifer Hooper, Frank Klodnicki, Maureen Marion and Cheryl O’Brien. (The Expositor did not get a response from Dene Banger as of press time Monday.)

There will be elections for the position of reeve of Tehkummah Township and for the four seats on council. Current councillor (and former reeve) Eric Russell has put his name in the hat for reeve of the township, along with John Deforge. There are seven candidates in the running for the four council seats. They include incumbent councillors Lorie Leeson, Mike McKenzie and Rick Gordon as well as Paul Bowerman, Steve Wood, Gerard Lyons and Perry Chatwell. (The Expositor did not get a response from Gerard Lyons as of press time Monday.)

In the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands (NEMI) incumbent Mayor Al MacNevin has been acclaimed, as has incumbent councillor Laurie Cook in Ward 1. There will be an election for Ward 2 with three people to be elected from seven candidates. They include incumbent councillors Allan Boyd, Barbara Baker, Michael Erskine and Bill Koehler along with Zak Nicholls, Melissa Peters and Elaine Milne.

For Ward 3 George Williamson, who is running for the first time for council, has been acclaimed.

In NEMI’s Ward 4 three councillors will be elected. The list of candidates includes incumbents Jim Ferguson, Bruce Wood and Dawn Orr along with Patti Aelick and Lee-Ann Ferguson.

Township of Assiginack

Dave Ham, incumbent

Long-time Assiginack politician Dave Ham is hoping to serve a consecutive term as mayor of the municipality come October 24.

He shares with The Expositor an extensive list of things he believes should have been accomplished in the municipality “a long time ago,” and which he hopes to see done under his ongoing leadership.

He notes that there are many aspects of the Bidwell Road that need work, including secondary roads from the Bidwell, first and foremost Red Lodge Road, which is shared with the Northeast Town as a boundary road. For years, residents of Red Lodge Road have asked Assiginack to rebuild the road, something that has been budgeted for for years but has not been completed because the Northeast Town does not consider it a priority.

“Last spring, people couldn’t even get to their cottages,” Mr. Ham said regarding the state of the road. “It’s got to get rebuilt, sooner than later.”

He also pointed to Scotch Line and Irish Line, both needing rebuilds. “They’ve been let go for so long it would have to be phased in over two or three years.”

Mr. Ham also notes the Monkhouse Road, Springer Brook Trail and Corbett’s Beach Road as being roadways in serious need of work.

“Longer term, the long swamp (on Bidwell Road),” he adds. “The road was not built up high enough and the culverts are coming up.” He suggests an engineering firm should be utilized to assess all the roads projects and wonders whether the municipality could make use of its own public works crew for some or all the work or if they should be put out to tender.

Still on Bidwell Road, Mr. Ham says he would like to see the areas of road where trees have grown over top of the road, not allowing for the road to dry, thereby causing damage over time, addressed. “The road is growing in,” he says.

“There are many areas of the road that need to be torn out and rebuilt,” the incumbent candidate adds. “The Bidwell Road is a heavily used road that joins Highway 6 to Highway 540.”

Other roads of concern to the current mayor and which he would like to see addressed are Queen and Arthur Streets in Manitowaning and Clover Valley Road, which is “full of potholes.”

Mr. Ham says council promised many Manitowaning sidewalks before COVID-19 hit, construction that was stalled for a number of pandemic-related reasons.

Mr. Ham says he recognizes that the medical building, post office and municipal office all require work, especially the medical building. “It’s busy, busy, busy and I think the push should go on to see an expansion,” he says, noting that he submitted an application two years ago on this front which has gone stagnant. He believes an expansion could mean an increase in services.

He says he would also like to see the next council push for a fire hall under his guidance. “Manitowaning is probably the only community that doesn’t have its own fire hall; it’s shared with our public works. We have the property to do it, we just need to build it.”

Mr. Ham says he views the lack of affordable housing as a “severe problem,” in Assiginack and Manitoulin in general. He says he would rattle the appropriate chains to see if the municipality can’t get more affordable places for people to live.

Mr. Ham names the Rogers Creek Bridge replacement as one feather in his cap over the last term of council. “There was a tremendous drive from the south end of the community that the Rogers Creek Bridge needed to be replaced after being closed to traffic for several years. We saw to it that a brand new bridge was installed,” he says, noting that Tehkummah Township also contributed funds and manpower for the new bridge, thanking the neighbouring municipality.

He points to the currently-under-construction work at High Falls that will see a pedestrian bridge over the underutilized attraction as a high point this term and shares his plans that would see Assiginack’s version of Flower Pot Island (it’s on dry land and higher than Flower Pot Island!) one day turned into a tourist attraction. (The geological formation is called a ‘stack’ or ‘sea stack.’)

Mr. Ham alluded that “good things are happening” with the Burns Wharf and Roller Mills, but was not ready to say what just yet.

As for the Norisle, of which Mr. Ham has been a major champion over the years, he says there is yet more good news on the horizon, but says the news will have to wait a little longer before he can share.

Brenda Reid, mayoral candidate

Brenda Reid has a long history in Assiginack politics, having served for 15 years as a councillor for the township and, before that, as a trustee for nine years with the former Manitoulin District School Board.

Last election, Ms. Reid decided to throw her hat in the ring and run for mayor, a bid she lost to former reeve Dave Ham. This election, unhappy with the direction the municipality is heading, the seasoned politician has once again decided to run for the top job in Assiginack.

“I’m not happy with the way things are being handled,” she tells The Expositor, naming a lack of long-term planning and poor budget presentations as examples.

It was while attending the present council’s budget meeting that she made up her mind—she would again run for mayor.

She says she realizes that COVID was hard on everyone, municipalities included, but it shouldn’t mean that the work of an elected official stops.

As for an election platform, Ms. Reid is straightforward: “I’m not promising anything, but I am offering three things: financial oversight, leadership and guidance and a platform of openness and honesty.”

“People need to know where their taxpayer dollars are being spent and why,” Ms. Reid says, proposing a biannual newsletter for ratepayers.

She noted the Roller Mills and its cost to taxpayers and the current council’s perceived inability to make a decision on it.

As for the controversial Norisle, Ms. Reid doesn’t pull any punches. “The Norisle needs to go. It cannot continue to sit there like that.”

In terms of the Manitowaning waterfront as a whole, Ms. Reid believes Assiginack’s council needs to have a hard look at it and determine both what brings people to the waterfront and what would better the lives of the residents, noting that a splashpad might be something council could explore.

“I’m not ever opposed to looking at things,” she says. “I really want to encourage discussion and debate.”

Ms. Reid says she wants the municipality to begin to move forward. “We need to look at bringing business back to town. The downtown core is shrinking, but our population isn’t.” She says several Island communities have business incubator centres and suggests this could be something to be explored and suggests striking a committee comprised of business people, ratepayers and some council members to investigate growth potential.

“We need a mayor that really encourages debate and questions,” Ms. Reid adds.

The mayoral candidate also believes there is room for committees that involve the community and would begin by bringing back the public works committee, which she says has been dropped.

“We need someone to guide council and I believe I’m the person to do that.”

Janice Bowerman

Some people have asked me why I am running for council. The answer is simple, I love this community.

My Parents moved to Manitowaning in 1979 when they purchased the Wayside Motel and Restaurant and I have considered this my home since then. I moved away for many of my adult years as our careers were in Sudbury, but we have been coming home every weekend for over 30 years and we moved back in October 2020 as this has always been home for me.

When I first moved to Manitowaning, it was a busy happening little town with lots of businesses and a very strong community feeling. Over the years, there have been many changes and not all have been good changes.  We need to grow the community, and that means attracting people, families and more businesses to our community and keep existing businesses here. How do we do that?

That is a great question and part of why I am running for council. My main purpose is to get involved, be open and honest and work hard for you the people and the whole community.

I have been in banking for many years and have a strong financial background and will use this as a strength to come up with decisions as to whether an idea makes financial sense or to see it is sustainable and what’s best for the community.

I also have sat on a board and been the president of the board for a co-operative housing unit in Sudbury which has given me experience in dealing with budgets, bylaws, policies and procedures and decision-making.

I cannot promise any one specific thing, but I do promise to look at everything that is brought to council and look at all the details and facts and try to make the best decision for the whole community on each matter that arises.

When it’s time to vote, please consider me, Janice Bowerman, for Assiginack Council.

Dwayne Elliott

I was born on Manitoulin Island and have spent my entire life in Manitowaning, except for a couple of years for post-secondary education. I was married in town and my wife and I have raised two beautiful children in this community.

I have been an active volunteer with the Township of Assiginack for over 35 years. I first joined the Assiginack First Response Team (FRT) at the age of 16 and the Assiginack Fire Department at the age of 18. From my time with the FRT I continued my education, developing a lifelong career as a primary care paramedic servicing the people of Manitoulin and surrounding areas.

I have remained active within the fire department and have held the positions of mutual aid fire coordinator for the District of Manitoulin for the province.

With my years of service in these organizations, I have become familiar with government legislation and regulations, developing and implementing policies and procedures and budgeting for yearly and capital expenditures.

For the past two years, I have attended most council meetings, trying to learn as much as I can so if elected I go in with knowledge of the current municipal climate and am aware and ready to tackle the issues at hand.

My priorities as councillor are to have a safe and sustainable municipality. One that will support young families and our youth. One that will welcome summer residents, enhance retirement living and foster a community where our children and our friends can return home and be successful.

For these things to happen, we need to improve existing infrastructure like roads, water and sewer systems and the longevity of our landfill site. We must support our community members and provide specific services for their needs. Council needs to support our existing businesses while enticing new business growth. We need to have a solid foundation to build on for our future.

As a councillor, I will be accountable to our ratepayers with the transparency they deserve. I wil work to improve our infrastructure and develop a strategic plan that will ensure that the Township of Assiginack continues to be this “great little community” we can all call home for many years to come.

Theo Flikweert

This is the time when voters can make their choices known.

Please, let me tell you what I stand for and what my values are. You will then know how I intend to represent you—should you elect me. 

I am a Christian who believes that my involvement in politics will be guided by my faith. Our country, strong and democratic, was founded by people who understood the wisdom of acknowledging God. I pledge to serve our citizens in this same spirit. 

Assiginack is a small township known for many good things. Mainly caring and committed citizens, productive farms, the beauty of our area and viable tourism. We’re not a big city and we don’t want to be. 

Our council should look to empower citizens. Leadership needs the help and support of its constituents to run our community. Assiginack was not built with government grants—it was built with strong commerce and a vital love for family and community.

I commit to the building and restoration of family and commerce in Assiginack. We need a vision for the future, not only a fire extinguisher that just puts out fires.

Assiginack can indeed be the place where we are proud to say, “It’s my hometown!” 

I will empower citizens with more freedoms to operate business. Over-regulation of our businesses simply makes success too difficult. 

And I will seek more volunteers and citizen participation in fundraising. Higher taxes are not the answer. Neither is an ever-increasing mill rate. We need to run our community based on lower levels of spending. 

I will vote to keep taxes the same as the previous year. 

I am a believer in small government. 

Small government equals bigger citizens. The government cannot take care of all of the varied needs of its citizens. Remember, it is the citizens that take care of the government—by supplying government with vitally important revenue. There is only one taxpaying citizen, that’s you and that’s me.  But there are three levels of government, all in need of our taxes. 

If you believe that Assiginack must be more prudent when it comes to the care shown for taxpayers’ money, then vote for me.  And thank you to everyone for your participation in our communities.

Jennifer Hooper

Real estate agent, postmaster and mother to three teens, I am running for a seat on council in Assiginack. I moved back to Manitowaning in 2007, having lived here when I was a young adult, and always felt like it was home. 

When I was younger, I volunteered my time as a member of the now-defunct recreation committee. Currently, I am on the council for Assiginack Public School and belong to the Lions Club. I am passionate about my town, township and all of the things it could be.  

I have no specific personal agenda, just a desire to serve and hopefully breathe spirit into the core town. I believe that although new projects are exciting, fixing what we have and supporting the businesses that are here is vital. Our township-owned buildings are in need of repair and are underused in many cases. This needs to change.

Many of the spaces in our downtown core, that should be used as commercial, are not and I feel this needs to be addressed. I do not support ‘moving’ the beach at the waterfront, although I agree that changes need to be made for the safety of those using the beach. 

Outside of the box thinking for seniors housing, as well as bringing back the programs that supported summer jobs for our local teens and motivating younger people to get involved in the community are all important to me.

Getting our township dump organized so it can be more effective, thereby extending its life, is also important. I am aware that the township doesn’t end in Manitowaning and I would love to see more interactive ways for people to share concerns and ideas, especially with the high numbers of seasonal residents in Assiginack.

I am honest, hardworking and sincere. I am able to make decisions and I accept the responsibility of those decisions. Please feel free to reach out to me at 705-862-1002 or on my ‘Jennifer Hooper Candidate for Council’ Facebook page. Thank you to the current council for their work during challenging times.

Although I do not agree with all of their choices, I respect their service to the community I call home.

Christianna Jones

I have served the Assiginack community as a councillor since 2018 and while on council I sat on the library and POA boards.

I was raised on Manitoulin Island and for the past 22 years have lived in Assiginack Township with my husband Peter where we raised our six children. Three of them continue to live in the community, along with our three grandchildren, making it three generations that have called this township home. 

Currently, I am employed in the health field but previously worked in employment, training and adult education. Over the years I have sat on many boards:  Ontario Native Literacy Coalition, Wiikwemkoong Board of Education, Destination Manitoulin Island, Debajehmujig Creation Centre, Burns Wharf Theatre Players and the newly-formed Mnidoo Mnising/Manitoulin Island Culinary Advisory Group.

While on these boards I helped develop budgets, bylaws and policies and procedure manuals. These boards interested me because they were about building community connections and creating opportunities, one of the key reasons that I am once again running for Assiginack council.

All councillors are provided a small remuneration for their services.  Over the past four years I have used this money to support projects and initiatives in the community. These include:  donating to the MSS Robotics team; purchasing decorations for Harvest Glory Days and the Haunted Tour 2021 and 2022; and investing in the creation and running of the Assiginack community garden.

Some projects that I wish to continue to be involved in are: High Falls bridge and park improvements; waterfront/beach development; the Assiginack Arts and Entertainment Centre, and creation of a food forest at Queens Park. In addition to these new projects, I believe that it is imperative that the current infrastructure and assets be repaired and maintained, and I will work hard to help this happen.

The community is celebrating its 150th and the Roller Mills, Burns Wharf and museum buildings are part of the history of the individuals that settled this area. These structures should be preserved for the benefit of current and future generations. There are community development opportunities in these buildings. 

As a council member I will be effective in helping to establish priorities, maintaining fiscal responsibility, and supporting community members so that together we can build a community where we can all live, work and play.

Frank Klodnicki

My wife and I have been visiting the Township of Assiginack for 32 years. Two years ago, we became permanent residents in Assiginack Township.

As a citizen, I decided that I should give my time and experience to help in the growth and operational decision making.

I am currently employed as a receiver at Manitowaning Mill Building Center. Before that I was employed at Weston Bakeries Ltd. During my time there I served in various positions from route salesman to distributor development manager.

When Pam and I lived in Barrie, we resided at a townhouse condominium corporation. While there I was elected to two terms on the board of directors. As one of the directors, I had the responsibility of treasurer. The board had similar responsibilities as the township council but on a smaller scale.

We had to budget and maintain: paved road repairs, sidewalks, building exteriors, parks, gardens and sewers, pets, help resolve residents’ personal conflicts and parking and waste management. A councillor seems to have a similar role as I had with the board of directors.

Not everyone will agree with every decision we make as a council but I will balance the needs of the community overall. I would like to help make policies that work for the majority. They need to be good for everyone. I believe total transparency of council decision making must be available to all the constituents.

We have to be able to ensure that all the needs fall within budgetary restraints.

There are several issues that have not been discussed/neglected over the past four years: longevity of the dump, road repairs, maintenance and the future of the Norisle, Roller Mills and Burns Wharf.

Going forward, Assiginack needs a council that will: take charge and guide the township staff, ensure proper training of staff as well as councillors, insure our community gets the infrastructure improvements it needs, have a plan for this community’s future and ensure the community is well informed on decision-making.

I am looking for your vote. Help me look after our future.

Rob Maguire, incumbent

I’m self-employed in a local manufacturing business with eight employees (both full-time and part-time).

As a former township economic development officer, I was successful in leveraging grant funds from various government agencies for numerous projects. Some include Manitoulin Living promotions, airport hangar developments, museum improvements, curling club enhancements, municipal water treatment plant upgrades, marina upgrades, a public sector/private sector partnership that supported implementation of high-speed internet through DSL services, to name a few.

I’m grateful for the faith and trust to have been elected to serve my first term of council four years ago as it was my desire to serve the township for its overall betterment. It was a challenging time with several uncertainties that we all never expected resulting from COVID-19.

Municipal staff, in conjunction with our medical professionals, went above and beyond to ensure that residents remained safe throughout the uncertain days of the pandemic.

In many cases, our hands became tied relative to moving even simple projects forward due to restrictions that we all faced for public gatherings, meetings, social distancing, etc.

That being said, the following highlight some accomplishments that we were able to attain during this term.

We hired a by-law enforcement officer; installed a single lane bridge at Rogers Creek; purchased a new grader for the public works department; purchased a used compaction truck for the landfill site; established a community garden agreement; established a renewed agreement with the SS Norisle Steamship Society (a project that has seen recent progress); purchased a used plow truck; secured funding to hire an economic development officer; and conducted improvements to our recreation and tourism infrastructure.

Additionally, we were able to fend off property tax increases, removed interest charges during the pandemic and were able to increase our reserves on a number of accounts.

I would like to help improve municipal efficiencies while pursuing community economic development opportunities. This, while helping address the day-to-day needs of staff and locals within the town of Manitowaning and the outlying areas including Sunsite Estates, Bidwell, Clover Valley, South Bay and The Slash.

I hope our township will establish an effective council that proactively and openly supports current and future citizens, while improving the area as one that is favourable to live, visit and invest.

Maureen Marion

The municipal election is coming up and I feel it is time for a change in Assiginack.

I have put my name forward for councillor because I believe I can be your voice for change and progress in this township.

Growing up on a farm in Warren, Ontario, my parents taught me the importance of hard work and determination. As reeve of the Township of Ratter and Dunnet for 18 years my father also instilled in me the importance of municipal government. Getting things done takes knowledge, teamwork and action.

I attended the University of Guelph, Laurentian University and attained my teaching degree from Nipissing Teachers College. I taught in the Sudbury area for 35 years and, following retirement, my husband Denis and I retired to beautiful Manitowaning.

There are many issues facing Assiginack that need attention.

The waterfront in Manitowaning is a definite concern. It is time for the Norisle to go, but where to? Burns Wharf is at the end of its life and a new facility in a different location is required to house our theatre. Assiginack has a diverse, talented community and we must provide for that. Manitoulin Roller Mills needs consultation. Is it feasible to make it into a viable addition to the waterfront or is it time for artifacts to be moved to our museum?

Now, our landfill situation. We need a sustainable, environmentally-friendly operation that is economically efficient and complies with provincial regulations. Let’s look to other communities to see how they are handling this issue. Are there government subsidies? Do we need to inject more money now for the future? Planning must begin now!

Township roads need repair. We have the machinery, the manpower and hopefully a proper budget. Let’s find the problem and bring our roads up to standard. I will also note that many roads in Assiginack are private and people living here are required to maintain them. However, these residents provide a substantial amount of tax to the township. Townships have a responsibility to provide safety and safe transport. Some municipalities recognize this and help by subsidizing maintenance. This is economically prudent, good stewardship and definitely something to be examined.

These are just a couple of issues that you have relayed to me. There are many more.

I also want to mention the idea of Performance Reviews. Most corporations have yearly reviews for their employees and this is something I feel we should enact in this township, from the CAO onward. Employees who work so hard for us should be commended and for those who need help, mentoring and training must be provided thus improving the efficiency of municipal works in Assiginack.

As I listen to your comments, I feel I have a shared vision with you for this community. We need to encourage small businesses and new residents to the area. We need to re-energize and re-engage our community. It is important to provide transparency, make people aware of projects and encourage community involvement through volunteer committees.

Councillors must hold themselves accountable when spending your tax dollar. Priorities must be set and plans made for the future. Let’s make change!

I will listen to you. I will ask questions and make unbiased decisions for our community.

The future of Assiginack is in your hands.

Your Voice, your vote! Let me be your voice. I ask for your vote on October 24.

Cheryl McCulligh O’Brien

I have lived in Assiginack all my life. So I thought I would put my name in to run for councillor.

Some of the things I would like to see are: our streets need to be cleaned up, trees need to be cut out of ditches, sidewalks in all our township intersections are terrible, you cannot see around the corners for oncoming traffic, better control of spending money, affordable housing, our roads need to be fixed up, Bidwell Road is terrible and needs to be graded more often.

Let’s not forget our rural friends, they pay high taxes.

We need to work together to make it a better community, keep people better informed on what is happening with a newsletter each month.

Landfill hours need to be addressed, especially in summer when tourists are back.

We need to attract businesses for downtown—let’s make it more attractive for people. Let’s support our businesses to help them stay in our town.

I hope you vote for me.

Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands

Ward 2

Barb Baker

I am known for and as many things: A coffee drinker (lots of coffee!); the sharpener’s wife (because Dale is my husband and many of you get skates, tools, lawnmowers, chainsaws, knives etc. sharpened by him); the lady who lives in Barb Squires’ old house (now known as the sharpener’s house with the solar panels); a teacher of technology to seniors, making sure they are comfortable with cell phones, tablets and iPads. I am sure many of you have been in one of my classes or have worked with me one on one.

I am an entrepreneur. I started and run the WOMEN (Women Of Manitoulin Entrepreneur Network) organization that helps provide support/information/networking and education to over 200 women entrepreneurs here on Manitoulin Island.

I am community focused, volunteering my time as a member of the Manitoulin Health Centre Hospital Board of Directors; a member of the 4elements Living Arts Board of Directors; and co-chair of Mnidoo Mnising/Manitoulin Island Culinary Advisory Group.

My goals if you choose to re-elect me: I will continue to ensure your tax dollars are spent wisely; I will continue to advocate for more affordable housing including more rental opportunities; I will continue to support the town subsidy of the NEMI rec centre to provide as reasonable as possible fees for end users; I will continue to ensure that township equipment, buildings and roads are maintained; I will continue to be a voice for entrepreneurs and small business owners; I will continue to be a voice for seniors; I will continue to listen to the youth and hear what they want to see in our community; I will continue to advocate on behalf of the health providers when the opportunity arises; and I will continue to provide answers to your questions/concerns.

Allan Boyd

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all that elected me as your councillor in the last election. It has been a great learning experience for me from the transition as a former police officer.

As many of you may remember, I worked as a community services officer with the Ontario Provincial Police. Having served my whole career on Manitoulin I certainly understand the complexities that people face with all facets of life.

I understand that you want to live in a safe and affordable community. I have brought my principals of policing to council to make decisions on facts and reliable information rather than speculation and rumors. Making informed decisions is a key function of council and if re-elected, I will continue to bring these values to your council.

Understanding the concerns of the community is especially important on how we function. Council needs to work towards the many concerns that effect the community like addiction and mental health issues—a real problem we face.

We have gone through many challenges with living through a pandemic. Most of you are living with the increased costs of everything going up. I will try and maintain your tax levy while providing the services you have come to expect from your municipality.

I believe in transparency and honesty and will continue to make myself available to listen and discuss your concerns and be your sounding board in council. I understand the problems and issues and needs of the community and I know working together we can achieve these goals.

I am enormously proud what we at council have achieved over the last four years, things like: the connecting link through Little Current with new pavement from the bridge on Highways 6 and 540; Green Bush Road with 3.3 kilometers of improved roads; new sidewalks on Draper Street; the Little Current recreation centre saw lots of new upgrades like the new ice plant and LED lighting; and Spider Bay Marina saw big renovations and upgrades making our marina one of the best in Northern Ontario.

New businesses came to town like Tim Hortons, a new motel and new stores.

Seniors’ housing, the new seniors complex being developed near Low Island. With tourism we have the new Sheguiandah Archaeological Site, new e-bikes in town and the Water Street parkette.

These are just to name of few of the improvements to your community and this was done with the funding from government grant programs saving you as the taxpayer for these upgrades. I also realize that I am only one vote in council, however, one vote can be effective if you have someone speaking on your behalf. Someone that can communicate and work with all involved being considerate and respecting everyone’s rights to make a change for the better.

I worked hard to gain your respect and trust as a police officer and will work just as hard as your councillor if re-elected to a second term. Now that I have gained experience in my first term, I can go further to work for you all.

I am looking for your continued support in re-electing me. I hope to chat with many of you over the weeks leading up to the election. Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments, or concerns as I want to know what is important to you.

Bill Koehler, incumbent

I have been a NEMI councillor for the past 25 years, working with many good mayors and councillors. I have achieved this by being a team player, a good listener, reliable, available and always having time to listen to the concerns of the residents of NEMI.

Communication is the main reason for success. People want their concerns addressed.

If elected my goal for the next four years as councillor would be: tax increases not to exceed three percent; more services and activities available for seniors; opposed to excessive water/sewer rate increases; the construction start of the new swing bridge; more activities for youth (bike trails, novice nights etc.); Service Ontario outlet – some residents are having to travel to other communities to renew government documents; lobby of major food suppliers for second grocery store; resurfacing tennis courts; more park benches placed at various  locations, especially Low Island walking trail; and more affordable housing.

If elected I will do my best to represent the people of NEMI as their concerns are my concerns.

Michael Erskine, incumbent

I am seeking re-election as councillor for Ward 2 in Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands. I believe we as a council have done a good job in overseeing the operation of our communities over the past four years.

Despite the challenges in the last two years and the current inflation that is impacting the cost of everything, we have still managed to keep our municipal tax rates, on average, at the lowest in our region while maintaining the core services that we all depend on.

Even as we have kept the town budget under control (in large part thanks to the hard work and dedication of our municipal staff), we have expanded assets and facilities for our youth and seniors. The new splash pad at Low Island, the soon to be finished pump track to focus our youth’s attention outdoors in the fresh air and the Turner Park garden and gazebo upgrades are a few of the items I had a close hand in as a member of the community services committee—these are items identified by the community. These projects were made possible by leveraging a small amount of local tax dollars with funding from the upper tier governments.

We have managed to entice the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board to build a new 12-unit seniors building in our community by looking forward to make the best use of a generous donation to our community.

My time on council has not always been an easy ride, especially when it comes to making decisions I believe are in the best interests of our community when our community is divided on the best path forward. I have always put forward my best thoughts on an issue at the council table and tried to keep an open mind and ears when it comes to the views of my colleagues on council and the community at large. Our council has largely been able to find a consensus on most issues.

I believe we, as a council, have done a good job overall and I humbly request that you place your confidence in me for the next four years by selecting me as one of the three councillors for Ward 2.

Elaine Milne

My name is Elaine Milne and I was born and raised in Little Current, having brought up my family of four here since 1981. I have recently retired after 47 years as a registered nurse and now feel that I have the time and energy to commit to municipal politics.

During my early nursing career, I worked at the Manitoulin Centennial Manor, followed by the Manitoulin Health Centre (Little Current site) before moving into Indigenous health. I have worked as a band nurse with Wiikwemkoong and Atikameksheng First Nation, and then as a federal nurse with Health Canada, working in North Ontario communities on James Bay and Hudson Bay. My career also included a few years working as a staff nurse with Corrections Ontario at the Sudbury District Jail and most recently as a community health nurse with Mnaamodzawin Health Services. For the past two years, I have been a board member of the Manitoulin Legal Clinic.

As a previous healthcare provider, I am aware of the importance of a healthy and safe environment, a place for all families to grow and feel protected. With regards to NEMI, I am concerned about our economy. We need to attract new businesses to fill up our empty shops and we need a second grocery store for variety and choices. We need affordable housing for seniors and working professionals. We need activities for our seniors, young families and youth. We need more streetlights, a system for composting, and improved vehicle accessibility for dumping at the NEMI garbage cell.

On October 24, vote Elaine Milne for council Ward 2. A new voice.

Zak Nicholls

Hello. My name is Zak Nicholls. I am running for town council. I am going door to door asking people to share their community concerns. Will you please share your concerns with me?

I write this on Saturday, October 1 from the NEMI Public Library, enjoying the services offered. To date, I have knocked on 326 doors. One-hundred and fifty-nine Little Current citizens have taken the time to share their concerns. Thank you.

Here is their platform:

Housing: We desperately need affordable housing for those who care for and serve our community. Health, seasonal, food service, construction workers, amongst others, want to live here but cannot find housing. We risk losing these important people.  

Traffic: Bridge backups. Speeding. Transport trucks traversing between Highway 6/Manitowaning and Highway 540/Worthington on connecting streets not designated for this purpose. These affect safety around our school and hospital. Opening Gammie Street and Boozeneck Road could provide a designated truck route. Opening Shaftsbury Street from the Welcome Centre to Harbour View Road could further alleviate traffic concerns.

Dog park: It is time to add this low cost amenity to our community.

More garbage receptacles, traffic and bylaw enforcement, vandalism, and maintaining/lowering tax rates are some other concerns.

My family moved to Little Current eight years ago. We lived in a neighbourhood next to Chemical Valley. We advocated for ourselves. For health reasons we relocated. I immediately attended council meetings here. I read budgets, agendas and reports. I make submissions to council. I engage with council as much as any citizen. For five years, I was satisfied with town and council. I feel that council stopped fully discussing proposals over the last three years. Votes were carried by show of hands. Council seemed unwilling to put their names on recorded votes. Opportunities to strengthen, or dismiss proposals were lost. I would like to bring such discussion back.

I believe COVID mandates were too strong. Council didn’t attempt to balance rights with mandates. Council strengthened the mandates. I will be a voice at council balancing rights with mandates.

If I have not had the opportunity to meet you, I hope to do so in the near future.

Melissa Peters

Having a break from council allowed me to put things in perspective and re-evaluate why I did this and want to do it again.

When I first got into this, I wanted to speak for the people, believed it would be this simple. It wasn’t. My primary goal was to represent the thoughts and wants as a representative of my ward. It still is. I realized over time that wasn’t everyone’s goal on council. Some were there for other reasons. 

Communication continues to be a key issue within the municipality. I’d like to see that change. 

Affordable housing, or housing in general, still continues to be a problem. The province isn’t helping enough with this.

I will never promise zero percent tax increases. No one honestly can. I can only promise a common sense approach.  

This community has grown. A lot of things have changed. Although I am one voice among many, we will try to get your thoughts and views out there. Everyone deserves a say in how things shape this municipality. 

At the end of the day, council needs to work together, with staff, and with the community as a whole.

Ward 4

Patti Aelick

Although Patti left to continue her schooling and for work, she has always thought of the Island as her home. She is happy to be back as a full time resident. Now that she has retired from her job as an elementary school principal, she is ready to give back.

Over the years, Patti has been an active volunteer and has served on the board of directors for many organizations. Patti credits her strong work ethic to being raised on a farm where everyone pitched in to get the jobs done. After 30 years working in education, she knows the importance of doing her homework and being prepared. She will continue to use these attributes as a councillor.

Patti has talked with many constituents who share her concerns about the secondary roads in Ward 4 which are starting to deteriorate due to the increased traffic during COVID. She has experienced first-hand being refused home insurance because of the distance from fire halls or fire equipment. She has heard about the lack of cell and internet service in the rural areas. These are concerns that she would like to address.

If elected, Patti looks forward to working closely with her fellow councillors, NEMI staff and community members.

Jim Ferguson (Jr.), incumbent

I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself, my name is Jim Ferguson, born and raised on Manitoulin. I am a son, a dad, a husband and a small business owner and operator in Sheguiandah and McGregor Bay. 

I have had the great honour of being one of three Ward 4 councillors over the past four years. I think that we have done some wonderful things this past term, including but not limited to enhancements to, and maintaining of, our local infrastructure, assets and community as a whole all while managing the financial responsibilities constituents expect from their elected officials. 

If elected for a second term, I hope to continue on in much of the same manner, serving my community to the best of my ability. 

Lee-Ann Ferguson

A quick introduction, I am Lee-Ann Ferguson. I was born and Raised in Sudbury and moved to the Island nine years ago, after marrying my husband Jim Ferguson. Together we have a daughter and live in Sheguiandah. 

In Sheguiandah, we have a retail store and a shed sales lot. I am also a local real estate sales person. 

As the wife of a sitting councillor I have found myself very interested in municipal politics and the roll that a councillor plays in the development of bylaws, financial responsibilities for the community, enhancement of infrastructure, asset management and so on.  I believe that my ability to think critically would offer a fresh perspective at the table. 

If elected, I believe that my experience as a small business owner and real estate sales person would offer a positive, strong voice for the community I wish to serve. 

Dawn Orr, incumbent

My name is Dawn Orr and I am running for Ward 4 councillor and hope you will choose to elect me once again as your representative in the coming municipal election.

Through your support, I have had the privilege and honour to represent our ward since 2006, and I am proud of the accomplishments the NEMI council have made in that time. During our last term, despite the numerous challenges that COVID presented, we were able to make several strides forward for the community, notably: Maintaining a low tax rate for Ward 4 constituents ($1,204.57 per $100,000 assessment, compared to $1,875.31 in Gore Bay and $1,422.27 in Central Manitoulin); Continuing the improvement and growth of local infrastructure, such as the Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah, roads, upgrades to buildings for financial efficiency, and the opening of the Sheguiandah Archaeological site; and beginning a new, government-funded project to construct a salt/sand shed in Sheguiandah, a benefit to our local environment

If re-elected, I would like to build upon this momentum and have several exciting ideas for the future: Development of a family recreational area in Sheguiandah, including both the playground and local waterfront, which I would like to see further developed and made into an area for locals to enjoy and an attraction to bring in additional tourism opportunities; activity programming for youth and adults; something I deem a high priority; and continuing to keep taxes as low as possible considering the current economic climate while maintaining services and infrastructure will continue to be a priority

I hope that Ward 4 residents will bring forward their suggestions and concerns, and that together we can forge ahead with new and exciting projects to further enrich our community.

With the challenges coming to municipal government, the NEMI council will need thoughtful and steady focus, the benefits of experience, and a good dash of innovative thinking to plan for the future. It is my hope to bring these things to the council table in the next term, and so I ask for your vote to be re-elected as councillor for Ward 4.

Bruce Wood, incumbent

I am seeking another term on council so that I can continue to keep on pushing for road maintenance and new upgrades.

I will also work to maintain the Ward 4 fire hall and service.

I have always tried to keep raises in taxes to a minimum and will always look for funding for NEMI programs and upgrades.

I have been glad to represent Ward 4 for three terms and believe things have been kept running smoothly under my guidance and leadership.

Township of Tehkummah

John Carter Deforge, mayoral candidate

Tehkummah Township candidate for reeve John Carter Deforge said he is running “to try and straighten the township out.” The candidate doesn’t pull many punches when it comes to what he sees as the challenges facing council over the next term. “I’m sick and tired of the infighting,” he said.

“Councillors need to work with staff, hand in hand, and they are not doing it right now,” said Mr. Deforge. “You need to leave your personal feelings aside and do what is best for the township. It seems it is really hard for some people to do that.”

Mr. Deforge said he just wants to see council and the township work properly. “They only passed the budget three weeks ago,” he said. “They should have had that done in February. Our town staff have had to work through the summer without even knowing what budget they had to work with.”

There is plenty that needs work in the township, according to Mr. Deforge. “The roads need work, they always need work,” he said, “that’s pretty much the same with any township. But we need our bridge fixed and I would like to see it down in a timely fashion—not seven years like the Roger’s Creek bridge.”

Mr. Deforge is the father of two adult girls and has lived in the community for “most of my life, at least 50 years.”

He points to his experience running his business, South Shore Builders, as a major asset in his campaign for reeve and something he has to offer the community. “I have worked with multi-million budgets and on large projects,” said Mr. Deforge. “I have worked with a lot of different people in order to get things done and moving forward. Getting things done requires that people work together as a team.” He touts his experience in managing large teams on projects as a key skill needed in a reeve.

“I’m not the ‘big boss’,” he said. “I believe in working with people to get things done.”

He noted that the township has paid dearly for the chaotic way things have been over the past several years and that it is time that someone with experience in running large organizations to take a seat at the table.

Mr. Deforge said that after years of working with his construction company he is planning on scaling back, should he get elected. “It’s about time that I give back to the community that has been so good to me,” he said. “It’s time I did my part.”

“I think people are sick and tired of the way things have been going on and are ready for a change.”

Mr. Deforge said that he believes he can bring about the kind of change that is needed in Tehkummah Township and hopes that people will support him in trying to bring about those changes.

Eric Russell, mayoral candidate

“All I want to do is the best for Tehkummah and I think I’m up to it,” stated Eric Russell, candidate for reeve in the upcoming municipal elections.

Mr. Russell has served on Tehkummah township council for the past three terms (12 years), two terms on council (including this past term) and one term as reeve. “My son thought I was crazy to run again, but it gets in your blood and you want to help this community which has been around since the 1800s.”

Prior to the last municipal election in Tehkummah, Mr. Russell said he had considered running again for reeve, but there were two other residents already in the running. “With two other guys already running, I felt that if I ran for reeve maybe I would split the vote, and I didn’t want to do that.”

Mr. Russell said he is running for the position of reeve once again, “There are things that I wanted to get done as reeve previously that we weren’t able to. The Michael’s Bay Historical Society now has the Michael’s Bay townsite, and I think the municipality can work with them and help make something big happen there. And with the township having an EDO (economic development officer) it is a benefit, and there is always heritage funding available to apply for projects.”

“As council, we want to get back into the council chambers,” said Mr. Russell. “If I’m elected the reeve, we will be moving back into the council chambers. I think all councillors want to get back into the council chambers.” He explained that, since the COVID-19 pandemic, council meetings have been held in the firehall, but he doesn’t feel there is enough room or that it is conducive to holding council meetings in that location.

Mr. Russell acknowledged, “it has been a rough four-year term, and as council didn’t seem to be able to work well with the office staff or the reeve, who did not want to listen to council. They even set up a secret committee looking at property standards. We never actually heard who was on the committee, although the reeve and clerk were part of the committee. But the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has said that this was not right.”

“As council, we are supposed to be transparent and accountable,” said Mr. Russell.

Mr. Russell said when he served his one term as reeve, he would make himself available to township residents at the library on Friday afternoons, something he will do once again if elected. “I was always available on Friday afternoons in the library for local residents to come in and talk. There is always someone who may have an issue and hearing their concerns or ideas is important.”

“We have a very good roads crew and an excellent fire department,” said Mr. Russell. “All we need is a couple more people added to work in the township office and I think things will be better.”

“The EDO helped get money for the John Budd Park and the Bowerman Trails to get them fixed up, and I want to see this carried through,” said Mr. Russell.

Mr. Russell said about the township, “spending was maybe out of control during the pandemic. We will have to get that under control. A lot of people are on fixed incomes and can’t pay more in taxes, something I think every township is facing these days.”

“Tehkummah township is where I was raised,” Mr. Russell told The Expositor. He worked for Domtar in Espanola as a machinist for many years and pointed out his family, “has some cattle on our hobby farm.”

“Members of my family, my grandfather and great grandfather, served on council in Tehkummah,” continued Mr. Russell. “I have experience on council. Yes, I have  probably made some mistakes on council but everyone does. I think we can have a good council, especially if we all work together. We can do a great job.”

“We all want to do the best we can for Tehkummah,” said Mr. Russell. “I think Tehkummah, like everywhere else, is short of money, but I think we can do things that benefit the township if we spend money in the right areas, to keep everyone happy. Over the last couple of years council has raised taxes. We don’t receive much in service, only fire and roads, and the marina costs us money, but we obviously can’t give this up.  We need to keep taxes down, while spending the money we have in the best way we can to benefit the township.” 

Paul Bowerman

My name is Paul Bowerman, a lifelong resident of Tehkummah Township. I have been married for 47 years to my wife Barb, father of Matthew, Jennifer (Matthew) and Cole (Alicia), grandfather to Lily and Finn, and I am concerned about the future of our township.

I was a member of the volunteer fire department, first responders, museum board, and recreation committee before serving two terms on council.

Transparency will end the troublemaking, misinformation and fibs that have hampered municipal business. Financial business must be resolved at the council table of discussion so the direction of the council is recorded.

Committees of council help council address public concerns on roads, landfill, water and sewer, municipal drains, recreation, health, and safety, amongst others, with regular site visits to projects and discussion of subject correspondence.

Setting a five-year realistic plan could address infrastructure projects in stages like Michael’s Bay Road, a tar and chip yearly program, municipal garage upgrade, and bridge maintenance or replacements.

Council must follow legal procedures, municipal by-laws, and policies to benefit each and every ratepayer. Conflict of interest is a very thin line, but municipal council needs to address this before and not after the fact. Motions of council must be adhered to, not thought of as redundant, by anyone.

Ignoring council projects scope of work must not be tolerated.

Combining established municipal drains without assessed landowner public meeting input was a huge mistake which produced inconsistencies within a legal testimony document. Moving forward, those two motions must be rescinded so that truthful discussion of options for individual drains can be completed to the benefit of all concerned properties.

Our volunteers must not be forgotten. Fire, first response, senior citizen club, church groups, South Baymouth development group, and other community-minded individuals are very charitable with donations of their time for social events and beautification/upkeep of our outdoor spaces which would not be possible without them.

If elected to council, I will speak to ratepayer concerns and carry out municipal business in a transparent and accountable manner.

Rick Gordon, incumbent

I come from a small town called Franklin Centre, Quebec. My parents were born on 100-acre farms that were on the New York State border in southwestern Quebec. I was an air force brat until I joined the Navy in 1968. I spent my growing years living all over Canada, and in France, for four years.

I started coming to Manitoulin Island in 1989. I made it my permanent residence in 2006. I have decided to run for council again because I respect the agricultural and small-town life that was once the norm in this country. In today’s world, small communities have a hard time making ends meet. People are overtaxed for the services they receive. We really don’t get enough dollars from the federal or provincial governments.

For small townships on our unique Island, we lose when conservation groups buy huge properties in our communities. They get a tax break; we don’t.

In our township, we have an administration and others that believe the reeve and clerk are in charge and the council is redundant. Funny when it is the council that hires the clerk!

I believe that honesty always trumps rumours and lies. Nothing is ever solved during a bull session over a cup of coffee.

I care deeply for the Township of Tehkummah. Council is the voice of the people and we are not redundant. In any democracy, it is the voice of the people that counts most.

I want the people of Tehkummah to vote for me to be a very loud voice for them.

Exercise your right to vote for it is a special part of democracy.

Thank you for all your support.

Lorie Leeson, incumbent

Hello, my name is Lorie Leeson and I am a candidate for councillor in the Township of Tehkummah. I am nearing the end of my fourth term of council and, because I care and I feel I could benefit the township by doing so, I decided to run again and continue to be an active part of our growing community.

I am a long-time resident of Tehkummah township and throughout that time I have been a business owner/operator and part of many boards, groups, and committees, some of which include our local library, museum, fire department, first response and recreation. I’m a wife and a mother and grandmother to some great humans and to a number of furry and feathered ones too! I am a friend to many with a love of family time and my full-time employment, all while trying to squeeze in some hunting, fishing and crafting projects whenever possible.

I thrive on helping others and staying busy but, all in all, I still have that passion and commitment to be a part of a team that works together, helping make decisions that will benefit the people of the township whether full-time, seasonal or those that have future plans of a permanent or retirement place here.

Teamwork, transparency, honesty, commitment and open communication; the future of our children and grandchildren and all community members, both young and old, depend on this. Together, we can make this happen. I believe.

Gerard Lyons

(no response as of press time)

Michael McKenzie, incumbent

Hello, my name is Michael McKenzie. I have lived in Tehkummah my whole life. I have sat on council for just over two terms. I stepped up and filled a vacant seat on council last term.

One thing I think is a major issue is our roads. We must continue to rebuild our roads in this township. We must continue to find money to do this or our taxpayers end up with tax bills they cannot afford.

The next council must get all of the municipal office jobs filled and everyone working together for the best outcome for the township.

I believe that I will make a good member of council. I respect other peoples’ opinions on what they think is best for the taxpayers of this township. However, that does not mean that I will agree with them. I will voice my own opinion at the council meetings.

I have been asked why I did not run for reeve in this election. I explained that I do not have the time to dedicate to this position at this time.

I hope that the taxpayers will give me a chance to serve them. I ask the taxpayers that if you think I would be one of the people they want as a member of council to please talk to every person they know to help make this happen. I look forward to the opportunity to serve the taxpayers of Tehkummah township.

Steven Wood

Hi my name is Steven Wood and I am a candidate for Tehkummah council.

I was born on Manitoulin and raised in Sheguiandah on my parents’ farm. I left the Island for one year to work in Chapleau but then came back and worked construction jobs.

In December 1988, I was hired by the Township of Assiginack on the public works department and recently retired this past summer. Tehkummah has been by home for 22 years.

If elected as a councillor, I want to see all staff, Reeve and council work together as a team. There are many issues to deal with. For example, but not limited, to bridge replacements, drainage and road repairs just to start.

One of the first priorities is to get a clerk back in our office.

I feel that the experience I have had on the public works department in Assiginack for 33 years will benefit me in being a councillor.

If elected I will look forward to serving the township to the best of my ability.

Dene Banger (no response as of press time)