Mayoral candidates lay out priorities

·3 min read

NEEBING, ONT. — It’s old school against the new regime for the mayor’s seat in the Municipality of Neebing.

Former mayor Ziggy Polkowski will face off against current Blake Township councillor Mark Thibert for the top job in Neebing with the municipal election set for Oct. 24

Thibert, a local plastic surgeon who was first elected in 2018, said a medical clinic in Neebing is one of many priorities he’ll be focusing on during his campaign.

“(The medical clinic) is one of several priorities,” said Thibert, who has a large presence online with a website dedicated to the campaign. “Medical care in Neebing has always been a big issue.

“In terms of acute care and chronic care and recognizing, of course, that the population is aging and shifting in terms of its medical spectrum from acute illnesses to chronic illnesses. Also, care of the elderly and those who are less able to get transportation into medical care.

“Obviously, with me being a physician, it’s a big priority for my community.”

Thibert also wants to bring light to fixing the roads, waste disposal, recreation and lowering taxes for the municipality.

Polkowski, who was mayor of Neebing from 2010 to 2018 before losing out to outgoing mayor Erwin Butikofer in the last election, said repairing roads and taking care of the volunteer fire department are issues he’ll be campaigning on.

“The main thing is chipsealing the roads because this is one of the aspects that can keep our taxes down,” said Polkowski, who was a Neebing councillor from 1994-2003.

“We can’t afford to go with what we did for 120 years — adding gravel, putting in the ditches, cleaning the ditches and putting new gravel on top of that. That’s costing us way too much money.

“I’d like to take a look at what we can do for our fire department and first responders. This is my huge, huge concern. Those people are volunteers and we, as taxpayers, owe them a lot.

“I’d like to make their job much easier. If I could possibly build them a new main station where they could dry their equipment much faster during winter just in case we do have one fire after another like we had a few years ago.”

While the battle for the mayor’s seat is a two-horse race to replace Butikofer, the Crooks and Blake township councillor positions also sees a pair of candidates facing off.

Obie Egbuchulam is up against incumbent Brian Wright for the Crooks job, while Ron Woit and Gary Shchepanik are campaigning for the Blake Township council seat vacated by Thibert.

Gordon Cuthbertson (at large), Curtis Coulson (Pardee), Gary Gardner (Pearson) and Brian Kurikka (Scoble) are currently running unopposed.

In O’Connor Township, John Sobolta, a municipal appointee on the Lakehead Police Services Board, has filed his nomination papers for councillor.

Incumbent councillors Alex Crane and Bishop Racicot as well as newcomer Jon Hari have also filed their nominations for the four O’Connor councillor positions.

The deadline for filing nomination papers for the municipal election is Friday.

John Nagy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal