As part of Doppler’s ongoing coverage of the upcoming municipal elections we reached out to all of the candidates running for election in Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes.
Today we look at the candidates for Mayor in Gravenhurst. Three candidates have come forward and one will be elected.
We posed the following three questions to each of the candidates:
1. Can you tell us about yourself and why you’ve decided to run for office?
2. What are the biggest challenges in our municipality, and what do you envision as the best way(s) to address them?
3. What do you cherish most about this community?
All candidates were given the same amount of time and the same word count for answers. Answers over the word count have been shortened by Doppler.
The municipal election takes place on October 24, 2022. You can find more information on voter eligibility, how to vote and candidate information here.
1. Shortly after wedding in 1997, my husband Kirk and I went on a Sunday drive, we found ourselves in Gravenhurst. We were hooked, we eventually found a beautiful Heritage Home on Bay Street, and never looked back. In 1999 the first Local Lorenz was born.
First elected in 2010 I served two terms as the ward one Councillor, in 2018 I was elected as District Councillor with the highest number of votes. In 2020 I was appointed Deputy Mayor. This election is the most important in decades, with growth to oversee and the threat of inflation, Gravenhurst deserves a Fulltime Mayor. My commitment to the health and welfare of our community is unwavering. I am the only Mayoral candidate to support the safety of our citizens and Volunteer Firefighters with the purchase of Gravenhurst’s first Aerial Firetruck. My common sense approach to fiscal responsibility is well documented and unmatched.
My campaign is self-funded, I will not be beholden to any one person or group. I will continue to listen to all sides of the story. Committed to the welfare of all of Gravenhurst residents, I will not champion for an elite few. While I believe they are excellent stewards of the environment, I will not be held hostage nor make unattainable promises to special interest groups. This is a pivotal time; the future of Gravenhurst is on the line.
As Mayor I am committed to mentoring new members of Council, I will expect them to be as dutiful and prepared as I have been throughout my twelve-year tenure.
2. The obvious challenges Gravenhurst face, are housing, employment and transportation. These are not unique to our region; they require an all-hands-on deck approach from every level of Government. My established relationships will be crucial in seeking solutions. My February 15, 2022 Notice of Motion on Affordable Housing and Town Owned Suitable land resulted in pinpointing appropriate plots of land to be shovel ready for development partnership or donation opportunities, a step in the right direction.
The Town has secured funds through the province to undergo a transportation needs assessment. That work is underway, I will rely on the experts to provide data to make an informed decision on next steps to implement solutions.
The employment crisis is directly tied to housing, the addition of the hundreds of units currently under development should alleviate some pressure. As Mayor I will lobby for a living wage.
Serving at District the past term has opened my eyes to a lesser known problem; Garbage. Muskoka has a dismal 35% diversion rate, meaning 65% of eligible recyclable and organic material go to the landfill. Developing a corporate waste strategy for the Towns facilities and events is an important advancement to increase Muskoka’s diversion rate and preserve our landfills.
I will improve Communication at the Town. Increase the frequency and the accuracy of information circulating about Town, facts matter. I will create an innovation portal for residents to share their ideas. Host Mayoral round table with diverse members, every point of view is valuable in shaping our Community.
3. I fondly think of Gravenhurst as the Little Town that Could. It never ceases to amaze me how this Community rallies. The success of the RYDE Coop, Gravenhurst Against Poverty and the Salvation Army’s Christmas Hamper Program are just a few of the examples of neighbors caring for each other. There are hundreds of unsung heroes amongst us who do little things every day that make big differences in the lives of others. The outpouring of support of strangers for families in our Town affected by life altering tragedy literally moves me to tears.
Muhammad Ali famously said “Service to Others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth” I believe this and am proud to be a member of this generous, kind community.
Second to the people, I cherish the incredible beauty that surrounds us in Gravenhurst. Twenty-six years later I am still in awe of my surroundings. I feel so lucky to be able to spend my life here. We are very fortunate to have access to incredible trails, fresh air and crisp, clean water. We must ensure we protect it for generations to come through sensible planning and strengthening site alteration bylaws. The Town needs to work with other municipalities within the District to tackle serious threats, invasive species, algae blooms and shoreline erosion. Boating safety is a major concern, the licensing program needs to be reevaluated.
All in all, Gravenhurst is an awesome place to be, It has the greatest honour of my life to serve as the Deputy Mayor.
1. Experience. I have spent thousands of hours following the workings and decision making involved with Council and its Committees, as well as the happenings at the District level.
Professionally, Corporately, I have forecasted / budgeted and managed millions of dollars, always overachieving goals. I know how to dive into the details of the Town Budget Review in your interest.
This is public service with the most “direct impact” on our community, friends and neighbours.
We will collaborate with the District of Muskoka, our MP Scott Aitchison and MPP Graydon Smith on issues like access to healthcare, innovations into real affordable housing and sustainable community growth planning that serves everyone.
Gravenhurst has a bright future ahead with much potential. I’m running. Run with me.
2. Business wants to come to Gravenhurst and invest. We are missing one thing. We have to be ready to house staff, employees, trades, and health services professionals. Muskoka has a great housing pilot happening now to build communities that strive to be affordable “in perpetuity”. This housing pilot has great potential to expand and stimulate local private enterprise. Housing for everyone ripples out creating many benefits in quality of life, strengthening our local economy, stabilizing and attracting a diverse labour pool. Gravenhurst doesn’t have to be left behind anymore.
Town of Gravenhurst and the Municipal District of Muskoka Climate Action Commitments. Are we on the way to meeting our goals?
Environment is everything. We have the most incredible lakes and landscapes in the world. Let’s be proactive, creating a multi-lake plan to get ahead, instead of waiting until more lakes become environmentally at risk.
The budget. It drives all decision making. I like taxpayer value and building great communities.
3. The people who are changing the face of politics.
The Collaborators. I cherish our friends and neighbours for directing their energies towards purpose, moving forward, and making the community a better place for everyone. Working together with community and support agencies in Gravenhurst, throughout Muskoka and Indigenous Communities.
I’m ready for the hard work ahead. I am looking forward to working with you. Know that my door at the town hall will always be open.
1. I am a lifetime resident of Gravenhurst and I care deeply about our Town. My experience includes 17 years at The District of Muskoka Council table. I currently serve as the Alternate Council member for Gravenhurst. I have served as acting Mayor and Deputy Mayor. My previous experience also includes Chair of the Muskoka-Parry Sound Board of Health and numerous terms on the Simcoe Muskoka Board of Health.
As a current member of Gravenhurst Council, I am aware of the critical issues that continue to face Gravenhurst. As Mayor, I will be committed to having the Town of Gravenhurst do a qualitative assessment of our most challenging issues, work to create forward-thinking action plans with accountable progress updates that move us towards successful solutions.
Leadership means taking diligent care of our community and its people and a willingness to stand up for Gravenhurst. This simple approach has guided my efforts as a Councillor for many years. Now, I can put that experience to work as the mayor.
2. Getting the council staff and the community all rowing in the same direction.
When everyone contributes in setting aligned goals, your boat will be moving in one direction – toward success. This is why I commit to initiating a new community visioning process, with the purpose to create a fresh strategy and community plan. Let’s bring the community back into the conversation.
Delivering services and infrastructure that are expected by the community and doing it in a responsible effective and cost-effective way.
The Future status of our economy is always a concern and yet we still must provide the valuable services that people have become accustomed to. Therefore, we must evaluate these services relative to the Town’s financial position, and growth plan. We may have to do more with less. Council, staff and community must work together for a more effective implementation of programs to ensure we keep tax rates low and affordable for all residents.
Understanding effective communication and making it work an efficient policy.
We need to improve communication with council, staff, and residents, this is done by implementing proven policies and procedures and utilizing the latest technologies, not re-inventing the wheel but utilizing what works and adapting for Gravenhurst and making it simple for people to be informed and included.
Enforcing bylaws and standards in a fair and equitable way.
Again, we need better communication and education. We will also have to budget personnel and follow up systems for ongoing problems, Plus, after hours and weekend solutions have to be part of the equation.
3. The people. The longer I live in this community, the more I realize that Gravenhurst is such a compassionate community. It’s much more than welcoming and friendly, they are empathetic and caring for our most vulnerable individuals.
Our rich history and heritage, I believe preserving our historical assets is essential to maintaining Gravenhurst’s unique character and charm.
And the Scenery and natural surroundings, trees rock formations, and of course our lakes.
I believe we will leave a legacy that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
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