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Council race grows as deadline nears

Several new candidates have filed to run in Thunder Bay’s municipal election, including former Liberal candidate Rob Barrett.
Rob Barrett
Rob Barrett, a candidate in the recent provincial election, has filed to run at-large in Thunder Bay's municipal race. (File photo)

THUNDER BAY – Several new candidates have filed to run for Thunder Bay’s city council, with just two days remaining until the nomination deadline.

Prospective candidates have until 2 p.m. on Friday to file their paperwork with the city clerk’s office, which will confirm the list of certified candidates on Monday, Aug. 22.

Newly registered candidates include Rob Barrett and Dan Courtney, running at-large, and Martin Rukavina, running in the Red River Ward.

At-large Coun. Trevor Giertuga, who recently confirmed his intention to run, has also officially filed his nomination papers to seek re-election.

As of Wednesday at 3 p.m., 45 candidates had filed for council positions, including five for mayor and 16 at-large.

One race remained uncontested – incumbent Coun. Albert Aiello is so far unopposed in his McIntyre Ward.

The newly filed candidates bring a range of experience, but none have previously held elected office.

Barrett ran for the Liberals in Thunder Bay–Atikokan in this year’s provincial election, placing third with just under 25 per cent of the vote.

In an interview, he said his positive experience during that campaign influenced his decision to run municipally.

A social worker by training who’s worked as executive director of the Shelter House and Yes Employment, Barrett said he’ll be focused on issues of equity and inclusion in the race.

“For me, it’s always been about service,” he said. “It’s all about inclusion, affordable housing, and whatever we can do as a municipality about health care.”

Courtney, a longtime police officer in Durham and later Thunder Bay, said crime and the social issues underlying it will be front and centre in his campaign for an at-large seat, along with infrastructure including the state of the city’s roads.

After his policing career, Courtney consulted for junior mining companies for several years, and now owns a small business in the health care field. He has served as chair of the Northern Ontario Innovation Centre.

That combination of experiences would serve him well on council, he believes

“I think my background, I can add a lot in different areas,” he said.

Rukavina, meanwhile, is hoping to shake up the race in Red River, where incumbent Coun. Brian McKinnon is not running for re-election.

He will face stiff competition as one of six candidates to file so far, including Jason Veltri, James Marsh, Michael Zussino, Katherine Suutari, and Brad Ford.

Rukavina grew up in Thunder Bay but moved away for employment, working in several departments of the provincial government, including northern development and Indigenous affairs. He moved back to the city during the pandemic.

In an interview, he emphasized the need for the city to shore up municipal infrastructure and basic services, forge stronger relationships with the provincial government and in the region, and embrace the spirit of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

The mayor’s race remains at five candidates, after former mayor Ken Boshcoff threw his hat in the ring earlier this week. Other mayoral candidates include Gary Mack, Robert Szczepanski, Coun. Peng You, and Clint Harris.

The municipal election will take place on Oct. 24.

Ian Kaufman

About the Author: Ian Kaufman

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