From the left, front row: Dean Lapensee, Steve Densham and Allison MacDonald. Back row: David MacDonald, Adrian Bugelli, François Landry and Charles Shane. Thompson Goddard Photo

CRYSLER – Approximately 200 people gathered in the Crysler Community Centre on Sept. 29 to hear the platforms of candidates for election to the North Stormont council.

Hosted by the Stormont Federation of Agriculture, candidates were able to express their thoughts, concerns and hopes for the future of their home community, as well as answer questions from residents. Each candidate was provided the opportunity to make a timed opening statement, which would be followed by a question period.

Moderator Alan Kruszel noted mayoral candidate Roxanne Villeneuve was unable to attend the meeting due to family responsibilities. On behalf of Matt Shea, Gerry Jan read a statement from the candidate which explained Shea was ill. The statement further mentioned that he would work for all residents of NS if elected and the need to work together in a respectful manner. Concluding his message with the importance of voting. Collette Hutton read a statement on behalf of candidate Dessia Miller which mentioned she was unable to be at the meeting due to family responsibilities but expressed her desire, if elected to work as a team, advocate for transparency in municipal matters and support local businesses.

Mayoralty candidate François Landry, now serving as NS deputy mayor, described achievements of the current council which included successful negotiations with EDP and GFL. He thanked the municipal staff for their work in securing almost “$2 million in grants for community groups and our utility infrastructure.” Landry commented he was “very impressed by Mayor Wert’s leadership to bring natural gas to the east side of North Stormont via renewables and GFL.” He is committed to ensuring North Stormont remains a strong community and stated: “I’m very concerned that if you elect counsellors who disrespect staff and confidentiality, we may lose employees who deliver our services. We can’t have four more years like this.”

“I believe the ideal candidate for deputy mayor is someone who presently sits on council, which I do. Over the past term, I have built important knowledge and key relationships,” commented Steven Densham. He listed several organizations he has been a member of before commenting how more can be accomplished by working together for the community. He described as priorities for the upcoming council term include strengthening the local economy, the relationship with GFL, supporting agri-tourism, economic development and establishing an Agricultural Advisory Committee to council.

Dean Laponsee, candidate for the position of NS deputy mayor expressed in his opening comments the need for change in North Stormont. He was born and raised in Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry, joining the Canadian Armed Forces when 18 years old and upon retirement from the CAF returned to North Stormont. He noted leadership is an important quality to him and is ready to devote himself full-time if elected as deputy mayor.

Adrian Bugelli is seeking a seat on North Stormont council having many years of work experience in government. “Local government impacts your daily life at the most basic everyday level.” He mentioned how important it is to manage growth, protect our local agricultural heritage and ensure North Stormont continues to be a good place to live and raise a family.

Charles Shane is running for the office of councillor in the township of North Stormont. A long-time resident of the municipality, he has had an extensive business career and works for MPAC developing customer service and property evaluation skills. “I want to see our tax dollars spent on a balanced budget for municipal infrastructure across North Stormont Township” as well as better roads, access of natural gas and reliable high-speed internet for residents. The improvement of the local economy and community centres was also mentioned in his remarks. “I want to hold a seat on council of professionals who work together towards a positive productive term that accomplish the goals we set.”

Allison MacDonald, a candidate for councillor in North Stormont and Crysler resident, noted in her opening remarks how “when we work together, we are stronger.” She has developed experience in dealing with complex issues in her career and is looking forward to working with council members to “protect farmland, to grow the local economy and to look at how we can have more affordable housing.”

Councillor candidate David MacDonald, who has previously served for two terms on council, mentioned one of the reasons he is seeking a seat on NS council is to increase knowledge of financial issues in the municipality. He commented, “My main emphasis will be to make sure that the money that we collect or any amount of money from our GFL and from the roads group” will be spread to all areas of NS and made note of staffing issues at the municipal office.

Question period followed the opening remarks, with the questions submitted beforehand, vetted by the SFA, then asked by Kruszel. One of the questions asked about opportunities for daycare spaces, with candidates acknowledging this was something needed in the local community. There were questions on issues which had faced the present council and municipal staff, with candidates mentioning there is a need to follow the code of conduct and harassment not tolerated. Candidates expressed the need for and importance of community engagement, with Dave MacDonald advocating for the return of a question period at the end of council meetings.

An All-Candidates meeting provides voters in a municipality the opportunity to see the candidates in a public setting providing information on local issues.