By Hannah MacLeod
The October 2022 municipal election is underway, with the official list of candidates being published on Aug. 22.
In Kincardine, there are two candidates running for mayor.
Kenneth Craig was raised in Kincardine Township, between Kincardine and Tiverton. He and his wife operated a successful agricultural business for thirty years after which he became the pastor of the Kincardine Baptist Church. He retired from that position this past spring after fifteen years of service.
Craig has participated in many community events including fall fairs and community dinners. He has coached kids in minor sports, and has been elected to Kincardine Township and the amalgamated Kincardine council on three different occasions.
“I have relished the challenges that have developed my character and broadened my world-view,” he says.
“Most people would suggest that ‘quality of life’ pertains to only the senior community,” Craig says. “I believe that all people want to participate in a community that provides many avenues by which they can experience this quality. I have enjoyed this quality in many different ways and want to provide leadership so that it continues for generations to come.”
I believe offering “quality of life” experiences for the residents of the Municipality of Kincardine begins with a council whose actions are above reproach. Council members must be exemplary spokespersons for the community at the local, provincial and federal governmental levels. The council’s focus should be on their ability to develop administrative policy by which the Municipality of Kincardine thrives.
“Our quality community must be progressive in its approach to growth in population, in housing, in economic development, in recreation, and in health care, to name a few,” he continued. “Our quality community must develop a reputation for excellence in its provision of community services at reasonable prices.”
“Our quality community must show respect and compassion to a diverse population,” Craig says. “And our quality community must prepare the foundations for our children and grandchildren to have healthy and engaging employment opportunities in the Municipality of Kincardine for years to come.”
Craig concluded by stating that he believes that, as the mayor, he can lead the council of the Municipality of Kincardine toward this high standard of quality.
Laura Haight – Running against Craig is Laura Haight, who currently serves on Council, and has for three terms.
Haight is a mother of sons and a grandmother of girls, and strongly believes that those running for council aren’t doing so for fun, but, rather, because they love their community and want to leave Kincardine in a better state than when they started.
“I recognize that I’m no longer the youthful representative on Council,” she says. “That being said, age has brought me some wisdom and events in my personal life these last three years has endowed me with a patience that I never thought possible. Don’t underestimate patience as a quality essential to municipal governance. It takes initiative to start things, but it takes time and patience to stay the course and see things through to conclusion.”
“It’s hard to not get thrown off track by the ‘issue of the month’ or by the latest post blowing up on Facebook,” says Haight. “You really do need a Council who will persevere and it helps if they’ve got skin as thick as a rhinoceros. Your Council will also need to understand the inter connectivity of many of the issues they will face over the next four years.”
“We may not always agree and we may not like each and every policy of the provincial or federal government but we must develop proactive ways to work together in order to address issues such as affordable housing, rural healthcare, broadband connectivity or ways to do our part to tackle climate change,” she says. “We can’t do it alone and trying to do so with just municipal tax dollars is unsustainable.”
“The same can be said of local school boards, hospital boards, conservation authorities and the like,” she explains. “Their decisions and priorities affect us all at the local level. It has been my experience that working with them from a place of positivity, empathy and understanding will reap benefits. Issues rarely come with black and white, yes or no, up or down solutions. It’s more nuanced than that.”
“In my mind, the biggest issue facing us all is the hard deep divisions that have appeared across society of late,” Haight concludes. “Whether the cause is the pandemic, or MAGA politics, or Brexit or social media algorithms run amok; I don’t know. I do know that effective decision making requires open minded discussion in order to come to consensus. Facilitation of that discussion is the Mayor’s responsibility and I know I’m up to the task.”
In Huron-Kinloss, three candidates are running for mayor.
Roxy Bergman says she is running for family reasons.
She moved to Huron-Kinloss at the age of two with her parents in 1977. Her father opened an auto body repair shop while her mother stayed home, but had previously owned a hair salon. One of her great-grandmothers was from Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh. Bergman lived in Alberta while she was a culinary student at Georgian College, and also lived in Taiwan for a period of time. She planned to attend university to become an environmental lawyer or enter environmental politics, but ended up moving home to help her family on their hobby farm. She has since held various jobs in Huron-Kinloss, Kincardine and North-Huron.
“I like living in this warm community, and would enjoy staying to help build a stronger place for others to live and build beautiful lives,” she says.
“I believe the biggest challenges for the Municipality of Huron-Kinloss are employment and housing,” she explains. “Like most places in the entire country.”
“I would like to keep taxes lower, which would hopefully allow some landlords to keep rent costs a little lower,” she concluded. “I would like to hear the questions and concerns of those of the municipality.”
Don Murray lives on Stratters Lake Ave., just outside of Holyrood. He and Bergman share the opinion that many local issues are being faced province-wide, and are best resolved with a closer relationship between municipal, provincial and federal governments.
He and his wife, Barb, own and operate a livestock farm as well as a small livestock trucking business and a custom baling operation. They have four grown children and four grandchildren.
“I feel I now have the experience needed to lead this municipality,” he says. “I was elected to council in 2006 and in 2018, elected to Deputy Mayor. During my years on council, I have strived to be a strong, reliable, accountable but reasonable voice at the council table. I don’t take being on a municipal council lightly, and I hope to continue to be your voice at Huron-Kinloss.”
Murray believes there are multiple challenges Huron-Kinloss is facing, such as affordable housing, health care, mental health and addiction, senior care and lakeshore preservation. He is pleased that the municipality has worked hard to bring natural gas to the area, giving residents the opportunity to see a decrease in energy bills. He is also pleased that they have expanded broadband into rural areas.
“I feel we need to work closely with developers and other stakeholders, to bring more affordable housing to Huron Kinloss, but maintain our strong agricultural community,” he says. “With our communities expanding, new people bring the hope to fill vacancies in our business, allowing them to stay open,” he continues.
Murray says funding for a new water tower in Lucknow and industrial lots being sold in Ripley promise growth.
He would like to see increased funding for the existing mental health programs in the area. He plans on achieving this by working with provincial and federal counterparts.
“If elected, I would work hard with our provincial people to help fund what is needed here,” he concludes. “When looking at the budget I will be fiscally responsible to you, the ratepayers. I will be open and honest when asked questions. Please note you may not always like the answer, but it will be the truth. I will work hard for you and lead us all forward for the next four years.”
Angela Thompkins – Thompkins and her husband live on her family’s farm, which was purchased in 1964. She has recently retired after working 40 years in business, the last 30 years of those spent with one of the top five financial institutions in Canada. During her working career, Angela was recognized and awarded for her leadership, common-sense approach and positive results. She and her husband volunteer with the food bank, low income housing, Lions Club, Pride and the Kincardine Triathlon. They both golf, curl and are members of the Kincardine Community Singers.
Thompkins became involved with municipal government three years ago when a new subdivision beside their home was going through municipal approvals.
“Through collaboration between the municipality, developer and ourselves, we reached a favourable result,” she says. “I realized I could serve the community with the skills I’ve amassed working in business along with my leadership, voice of reason and common-sense approach.”
“As Mayor, I will not make any decisions without first understanding the proposed changes,” says Thompkins. “I will take the time to drive the areas where infrastructure changes are proposed to fully understand the impact on the community. I have been interested in municipal politics for many years and, now that I am retired, I have the time to commit to this role.”
Thompkins has plans to address infrastructure needs as well as rising cost of living, affordable housing and climate change.
Thompkins plans to look over the operating budget for unnecessary spending, going over it with council and staff.
“In the area of affordable housing, we must continually review and implement the provincial policy changes and look for opportunities to reduce municipally-driven costs to incite the building of affordable homes,” says Thompkins.
Thompkins is passionate about the environment, and plans to implement changes that will prevent events such as flash flooding and prolonged droughts by protecting woodlots and expanding the tree canopy, as well as understanding the potential downstream impacts of building or road changes on drainage and waterflows into the lake.
“ I will ensure that any decisions made within the Huron-Kinloss council chambers represent the best interests of our constituents as a whole and be open to innovative ideas brought forward from the community,” she concluded. “There are many other issues that are impacting the community. Not all can be solved at a municipal level. I am committed to doing my best for the entire community; to look at problems and solutions from all angles, and to work with my peers on council to drive for the best solution for the community.”