THUNDER BAY, ONT. — The quiet bedroom community of Conmee Township is beginning to heat up on the election front.
With less than two weeks to file nomination papers, the township now has five candidates for four councillor positions when David Maxwell filed on Friday.
If the names Maxwell and Conmee seem connected, you’re right. David’s wife Sheila is the current mayor of the township after taking over from longtime Conmee mayor Kevin Holland this summer. Holland attended the return of legislature at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Monday as the Conservative MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan.
A hospital crisis protest greeted Holland and fellow MPPs outside Queen’s Park to start the day Monday, but David Maxwell said that’s not usually the case in Conmee.
“Not yet anyways — there might be one when everyone finds out I’m running,” laughed the veteran truck driver, who has been a Conmee resident for 40 years.
“You sit back and you see things go on for most of your life and you kind of just let it go and I thought it was time to see if I could make a difference.
“I’ve seen what my wife’s done in the last eight years and I thought I could be helpful in that department to make a difference to help our community.
“I have zero experience really, other than living with my wife, but I have lots of common sense and I think that will go far.”
Sheila Maxwell, who took over the mayor’s chair on July 26 after almost eight years as a councillor, feels her husband could be an asset on council with his knowledge of the area and the osmosis of living with a councillor/mayor.
“(David’s) been exposed to it because he’s been listening to me for the last eight years,” said Sheila Maxwell. “He’s also seen me working to keep the taxes lowered and talk with the ministries.
“He has his own opinions, I have my own opinions. We’re very strong-voiced people. . . . If he doesn’t agree with something, that’s his opinion. I’m not going to sway him by any means, that’s for sure. He will voice his opinions with what he believes in and he wants to see the township always go forward.
“He always says ‘Look at all the work that’s been done here. Let’s keep it going’. He’d hate to see anything start to go downhill or lose services.”
The marital union turning into a political one is not a slam dunk. Sheila Maxwell is being opposed by Suzanne Huot for the mayor’s seat, while David Maxwell has made it a race by currently facing off against Gayle Manns, David Halversen, Ellen Davis and incumbent Grant Arnold for the four councillor positions.
Conmee Coun. Leslie Kovisto is leaning towards not returning for another term, which would put the Conmee council into a lame duck period from the nomination filing deadline (Aug. 19) until the Oct. 24 election.
In the Municipality of Oliver Paipoonge, Jim Cassan, who is on the municipality’s Committee of Adjustment, filed for a councillor seat on Friday.
Sabrina Ree and Dan Calvert have also registered for councillor spots, while incumbents Bernie Kamphof and Allan Vis have yet to file.
Current councillors Rick Potter and Brandon Postuma are stumping for the mayor’s job against current Oliver Paipoonge Mayor Lucy Kloosterhuis, who filed her nomination papers on Thursday.
In O’Connor Township, Jonathon Hari, who ran unsuccessfully in the 2018 election, has filed his nomination papers for councillor once again.
Hari and current councillor Alex Crane are the only two candidates who have filed for the four councillor positions. Current councillors Wendy Handy and Jerry Loan have indicated that they will not run this time around.
O’Connor Township Mayor Jim Vezina has said he will run again for the township’s top job, but has yet to file his nomination paperwork.
The deadline to file candidate nomination papers for Ontario cities, municipalities and townships is Aug. 19 with municipal elections set for Oct. 24.
John Nagy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal