Nearly 100 people gathered in the atrium of Wellings of Corunna on Sept. 21 to listen to candidates seeking election to either St. Clair Township council or the local school boards.
The meeting – moderated by Wellings of Corunna general manager Bill Yurchuk – was the final of three such encounters held in the township prior to the Oct. 24 municipal election.
Mayoral candidates Jeff Agar and Tracy Kingston both laid out their cases for why they thought they should be elected as the township’s new mayor. Mayoral candidate Chad Shymko was unable to attend, organizers said, due to a work commitment.
Noting she has a “passion for bringing the community together”, Kingston – who has served the past eight years as a Ward 1 councilor – said if elected she planned on attracting investment into the community while improving the cultural, economic and social life for residents through measures such as expanding the wastewater treatment plant, rejuvenating the community through measures such as improving infrastructure, park upgrades and the construction of washrooms, developing a transportation needs study and ensuring that all new projects approved by council will be both necessary and sustainable.
Agar, a 12-year council veteran, said his priorities included maintaining a low tax base while lobbying senior governments for grant money, keeping local infrastructure strong, upgrading the Moore Sports Complex and the St. Clair Parkway golf course, reinstating a blood clinic in the community and making sure “all areas and all communities in the township are treated equal.”
Ward 2 councilor candidates also presented their promises.
Candidate Brad Langstaff wants to create a culture of investment and expansion, bringing in more jobs, while giving a voice to younger people in the community.
Gary Martin spoke about his experience in planning and governance with bodies such as the Lambton Federation of Agriculture, his desire to speak for rural constituents and to provide transparent, two-way communication between council and residents.
Incumbent Ward 2 councilor Bill Myers spoke about the successes he helped bring about during his first term in office, including providing more high speed internet to rural residents and supporting and encouraging economic growth.
Myers said he would like to see the building of more smaller-scale, affordable homes in the community that could accommodate young families and seniors alike.
Candidate Craig Bezaire was unable to attend the meeting.
Candidates for Ward 1 councilor also spoke about both their backgrounds and their plans if elected.
Incumbent Pat Brown spoke about his commitment to obtaining government funds and grants to improve roads and other local infrastructure while finding ways to attract new industry.
Candidate Holly Foster said she wanted the township to develop a strategic plan in order to more effectively use their funds.
Ward 1 candidate Cathy Langis said safety was her number one priority, wanting the township to develop safety plans for each community, restarting programs such as Neighborhood Watch and streamlining the township website for easier access to information for residents.
Candidate Michelle Maitland spoke about her volunteer experience and the need for council to have better, more diverse representation that would take into account the opinions of the growing number of young families choosing St. Clair Township as their home.
Candidate Bill Moran said he was a “process-oriented” individual who would make sure decisions aimed at improving the community would be well-vetted, regardless of their popularity.
And candidate Charles Morley-Wood spoke about the importance of growing business while growing the community, helping residents combat inflation by refraining from raising their tax bill too much.
Following the formal speeches, residents peppered candidates with questions ranging from safety (traffic lights at Hill and Queen Streets, roundabout/enhanced safety measures at Kimball Road and Petrolia Line – all candidates agreed more needed to be done in both locations), a potential bus service between the township and Sarnia (Agar said the service had to service all communities in the county, Kingston said council was looking for options), the status of the Courtright Silverdome, and the difficulty residents have in obtaining permits.
Following the question-and-answer segment, candidates mingled with members of the audience. Several were impressed by the evening’s civility as well as by the candidates’ speech.
“I was impressed – it was nice to hear what they had to say,” said attendee Esther Waybrant. “They have a lot of work to do as far as I’m concerned. I’m involved with seniors in St. Clair Township … they’re a growing demographic in the area. I’m glad they addressed seniors’ issues tonight … but let’s hope they do something rather than just talk once they’re elected.”