Ward to run for mayor
Prominent local lawyer ready to leave law profession to commit to public service
High profile Lindsay lawyer Jason Ward has made it official — he will be running for mayor in next year’s municipal election.
Ward told the Advocate that a run for the mayor’s job has always been at the back of his mind. He had always hoped that at age 50 he would be able to transition out of his role as a full-time lawyer and begin a new chapter in his life in public service.
“Many people were involved in the decision,” Ward says, “including my family and co-workers. I made the final decision two months ago to run. I want to make a graceful exit from work in the new year. Win or lose next fall, I don’t plan on practicing law again. I am very happy about my decision to run.”
Kawartha Lakes Mayor Andy Letham has already said he will not run again next year. Councillors Pat Dunn, Ron Ashmore, and Doug Elmslie are also considering a run to be mayor but have not yet decided.
Ward says he can offer a fresh set of eyes and bring a new energy to municipal public service.
When asked to describe himself to those who don’t know him Ward said, “I am very community focused. I am local. I was born, raised and have returned here to start my business and raise my children. I believe in serving the community.”
The local lawyer said that public office should be a paramount obligation for those who can serve. Ward added that he believes great people can do great work to continue to build Kawartha Lakes, a city he sees as a “collection of vibrant communities that are better together.”
When asked why he wasn’t running for a seat on council first Ward was unambiguous.
“I am ambitious. My sights are set on a leadership role. I believe I am best suited for this role.”
When asked if being from Lindsay will be a detriment to being elected mayor Ward spoke about how well he knows the whole community.
“I have spent a lot of time playing baseball and hockey in Little Britain and Fenelon Falls. I have relatives in Bobcaygeon. Together all of the communities in Kawartha Lakes make up a premium place to live. I have a lot of history across the city. I am a proud lifetime Lindsay resident.”
Ward expects there to be “a strong slate of candidates” challenging for the empty mayor’s chair and “believes a competitive election will be good for the city.”
He was asked why so few summer residents vote in municipal elections and offered a couple of possibilities, including that the time of year is not good.
“They are often not in the area. Voting where they have their cottage property may not even occur to them.”
While Ward is just beginning to put a platform together, he did offer a few insights into how he sees municipal government.
It’s “the allocation of limited resources to individuals with often unlimited demands. I know tough decisions will have to be made, and I can make those. I know I don’t have all the answers but the priority of municipal government should be to do no harm.”
Ward added that the city is growing whether some locals like it or not. The real challenge will be to manage that growth and avoid the urban sprawl found in places like Newmarket.
“We need to balance the needs of seniors and those of young families. You should be able to live and enjoy this community — and municipal government should be encouraging it.”
When asked what he plans to do between now and rolling out his platform likely next fall he said, “become educated.”
“I need to meet with many different people and learn about the concerns and issues. I need to understand better what is going on with the city. I will be soliciting many people’s opinions and it is unlikely I will commit to specific issues until I have done my due diligence.”
When asked about the anger present in the electorate directed towards politicians Ward sounded a hopeful note.
“Good leadership can be inspiring. We need to move towards hopefulness.”
As far as what he can offer to the electorate, the Lindsay lawyer says he is “an honest guy.”
“I want to help. I work hard. I believe I have a skill set that will serve the city well. I don’t promise more than who I am. I feel I have an obligation to give back.”
Ward is also the author of Grave Disputes – The Law of Dead Bodies in Ontario. “Funnily I am considered a national expert on the law for death and dead bodies. Really helps at this time of year,” he quipped, alluding to Halloween.