by Hannah MacLeod
In this year’s municipal election, two candidates have already been acclaimed for Ward 1, three candidates are running for Ward 2 and two candidates are running for Ward 3.
Candidates Beth Blackwell and Doug Kennedy were elected by acclamation to the office of Councillor Ward 1; their names, therefore, will not appear on the ballot as they have already been elected.
Candidate Carol Blake is seeking your vote to elect her as Councillor Ward 2. Blake was born and raised in Ward 2, she is a Veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces. She is a wife and mother of two and owned and operated WireWorks Mobile Dental Lab along the Lake Huron shoreline for 36 years.
From 2004 to the present, Blake has been involved with plenty of green volunteering initiatives, such as FundScrip, The KTT Environmental Green School Project, Clean Sweep Kincardine, BioBag Canada, Green Cone Digester, Carbon Offset, Communities in Boom, Old Boys and Girls Green Reunion and the Bruce Power BBQ/Fundraiser.
Some of Blake’s concerns include better rural internet, paved roads, replaced bridges, rural tree management of ditches and intersections, weed control in ditches, rural playground maintenance, puppy mills and landfill future.
“I’m running to help make change and be part of the solution for the future of a healthy community,” she commented. “There are many important issues for the Municipality of Kincardine. The one that is in front of us as council, I will give my full attention to and become informed and work together with the rest of the team to find relevant solutions.”
Bill Stewart has been the Ward 2 Councillor for the past four years and has been in the area for 65 years. Stewart’s goal is to keep the tax increases as low as possible. He believes that his previous business experience has been and will be of benefit in that area.
“Our greatest achievement was to take on the challenge and reorganize the staff, to provide the taxpayers with a stronger functioning team and better customer service,” said Stewart. “We still need about 12 months to tweak the organization to achieve these final performance goals.”
“We do well to support our health care in our community,” he continued. “We spend over $500,000-plus per year, on doctor incentives, medical centre, hospital expansions and equipment and our new proposed nurse practioner program coming in 2023.”
“Unfortunately we cannot solve all the issues that our community faces like affordable housing and the high cost of living,” Stewart concluded. “But we can make some impact with keeping our taxes down and having good medical care for our existing and new families coming into our community.
Also running in Ward 2 is Linda McKee. Her response was not available at press time.
In Ward 3, Bill McKeeman and Amanda Steinhoff-Gray are going head to head to represent the ward.
McKeeman is a semi-retired business professional, a father of three and a husband to his wife, Julie. Their family lives in Inverhuron, where he has been visiting his entire life and residing in since 2020.
“My love of the area and in particular Inverhuron has fostered a deep respect for the natural beauty of the area and the people who live here,” he commented. “People here have a sense that this area is a special and unique community. That has inspired me to help represent the great people of Ward 3 and the Municipality of Kincardine. Julie and I are tremendously happy living here and we want to help grow and protect what all of us have built in this special place.”
“I believe growth is a big challenge for the municipality,” continued McKeeman. “Finding the right balance while protecting what we all love about the area is the key. We need a detailed plan around what things are important to the community and how to best enable those things. I would begin by asking the citizens what the most important things are for them, propose a plan, secure feedback, then publish the plan. We need input from the people we represent.”
Steinhoff-Gray was born in Kincardine and raised in Tiverton. She has an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Political Science as well as a Master of Arts in Political Science with a focus on policy and legislation. Upon completion of her Master’s degree, she had the opportunity to work as a Legislative Assistant at Queen’s Park before going on to complete a Bachelor of Education. She currently works at Bruce Power.
“Serving as a councillor will allow me to use the skills that I have developed both academically and professionally to make our municipality a place people want to live,” she explained. “As a life-long learner, I believe that I bring both an open mind and willingness to dig-in to the issues facing our municipality.”
“With the amount of growth that we have had in the community, we struggle with the balance between the need for development and sustainability, particularly when it comes to protecting our natural environment,” began Steinhoff-Gray.
She went on to share her concern for attainable and affordable housing and doctor recruitment.
“If elected, I will push for Council to set firm goals for the term, and to continuously report to the community on our progress towards achieving them,” she said. “Once goals are identified, we can easily identify stakeholders and get to work. Reporting on progress will provide transparency to ensure that Councillors are accountable for their actions (or lack thereof), something else that I believe you as voters are entitled to.”