THUNDER BAY – Kevin Cernjul believes his age sets him apart from others who have publicly declared their intent to become the city’s next mayor.
The 31-year-old first-time political candidate officially declared his candidacy in Thunder Bay’s mayoral race, filing his nomination at city hall early Tuesday afternoon.
“I think Thunder Bay’s youth need a voice and I want to be that voice for the city,” Cernjul said.
“I want to listen to our young community. A lot of friends and colleagues feel that city council doesn’t listen to their needs and issues. I want to be the one that sits down with them, takes the extra time to listen to those concerns and voice the opinion to city council.”
Cernjul, a veteran local musician known as a vocalist with The Bay Street Bastards and long-time wedding DJ, joined current at-large Coun. Iain Angus as the only two to have officially registered as mayoral candidates in the opening hours on the first official day of the municipal election campaign. Coun. Larry Hebert, another at-large councillor, last week announced his intention to run for mayor.
Although he acknowledged people suggested he seek a council seat before challenging for the mayor’s chair, Cernjul said he thought his message might get lost in a crowded race.
“When you have so many candidates running for at-large all with relatively the same ideas it spreads it thin whereas if I’m running for mayor my ideas can be pushed in a different direction versus other candidates,” Cernjul said.
Cernjul said he expects discussions the spending of tax dollars to be a major issue during the campaign.
Harm reduction, such as the pursuit of supervised injection sites in Thunder Bay, is also expected to be a prominent topic, he added.
“I want to focus on youth addiction and get community programs, community involvement so we can integrate our youth back into the community rather than thinking they have an addiction or a problem,” Cernjul said. “We’re going to try to remove that stigma of feeling like you have a problem and bring you back into the community.”
Cernjul identified bringing industry and infrastructure to Thunder Bay as other priorities, but admitted he would need to collaborate with city council to explore options before declaring a plan or potential strategies.
The municipal election will be held on Oct. 22.