Elmslie runs for mayor

By Kirk Winter

Councillor Doug Elmslie will seek the mayor's seat this fall.

Councillor Doug Elmslie will be giving up his council seat to run for the position of mayor in the October 2022 municipal election making this at least a two-person race of declared candidates.

Elmslie, a former corporate executive with Domtar and CIL Industries, has spent the last 16 years on council representing the people of Fenelon Falls. He originally got involved in local politics after he and his first wife permanently relocated to Kawartha Lakes in 2001. Elmslie has served as deputy-mayor, and sat on more than 40 of the various committees responsible to council.

Elmslie will campaign on a platform that aims “to improve the service in public service.” He promises to focus his campaign on ensuring the city has the appropriate resources to deal with a post-pandemic world, that roads and infrastructure repair and renewal will be prioritized, that the hiring and maintaining of city staff will be approached in new and innovative ways and that the turnaround times on planning decisions and building permits will be sped up.

“I am afraid that senior levels of government are soon going to be looking at their ballooning deficits and they are going to start cutting costs that include transfer of monies to the municipalities,” Elmslie said. “I also would not be surprised to see another round of federal and provincial downloading as upper levels of government try to reduce costs.”

Elmslie is concerned about the city’s financial health, and is very pleased that council has implemented a 10-year plan to act as a road map of where the city is going.

Elmslie said the city needs to “get after” repair and improvement of roads and infrastructure because of the impact it has on the whole city.

“I have heard from everyone about this issue. Roads and infrastructure that need repair affect the agricultural and tourism sector, along with day-to-day commuters,” Elmslie said.

In his push to improve customer service and city wait times, Elmslie wants to focus on staff hiring and retention.

“Our salary structure is lower than surrounding communities. Many good people do not even apply here or they take jobs in surrounding municipalities. We need to be innovative how we work and how we retain employees,” Elmslie said.

“I believe we have many good people who work for the city,” Elmslie said. “We sometimes forget that the residents of Kawartha Lakes need to come first. We need to try harder to work with people and volunteer groups to come up with good solutions.”

Elmslie doesn’t expect to begin campaigning in earnest until the provincial election cycle is done in early June.

“There is no point doing anything before the provincial race is done,” Elmslie said. “We will only confuse people. We won’t begin actively campaigning until that vote is done.”

Elmslie said that signs for candidates can go up in August, but expects to do the bulk of his campaigning between Labour Day and Election Day in late October.

“We are currently putting a team together for the campaign,” Elmslie said. “There will be a core group of six people with another 16-20 volunteers who will help with signs and distributing brochures. Almost everyday we are getting phone calls from people asking how they can help.”

Elmslie expects there to be a number of people involved in the mayoral race.

“Everyone is welcome,” Elmslie said. “I don’t think there will be anyone else from council running (besides Elmslie and Lindsay-area councillor Pat Dunn), at least not in this cycle. I wouldn’t be surprised if more (private citizens) don’t decide to run.”

Elmslie describes himself as a “progressive Conservative” very much in the mold of retired Conservative senator Hugh Segal. He hopes that if he is lucky enough to be elected, chief administrative officer Ron Taylor will be staying on with the city.

“Ron does a very good job, and he is well liked by the people who work for him and with him.”

In closing, Elmslie was asked if he would endorse a candidate for his old council seat.

“I want to let the chips fall where they may,” Elmslie said. “I will not endorse a candidate. Councillors are elected to ‘council the mayor.’ We want people who have different opinions. I have heard there are at least four to five people interested in  running (for Elmslie’s old seat).”

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