THUNDER BAY – Northwood Coun. Shelby Ch’ng says she plans to seek the federal Liberal nomination in Thunder Bay-Rainy River.
Ch’ng on Monday confirmed her decision, saying it was an unexpected opportunity, but one she felt she had to take after speaking with her husband and close confidants about the possibility of running for higher office, saying she'd been asked by some fellow Liberals to consider the idea.
Meanwhile Mayor Bill Mauro, a 15-year Liberal MPP before losing his Thunder Bay-Atikokan seat in last June's provinicial election, says he's been contacted to gauge his interest, but hasn't made up his mind.
Reached by phone in Chicago while on a business trip for her bridal shop, Ch’ng said until a few days ago her plan was to help Liberal MP Don Rusnak with his re-election efforts.
However, on Sunday Rusnak announced he had decided, for family reasons, to withdraw his nomination and not seek a second term.
“I was asked if I would consider it,” said Ch’ng, first elected to Thunder Bay city council in 2014 and re-elected in a landslide last fall.
“I was a little bit shocked. You think things are going to go a certain way, but it was encouraging. I think I’m the type of person, I feel like I have a calling to serve and this the step I want to take.”
Ch’ng, who plans to file her nominations papers when she returns from the United States, is the lone candidate to publicly state their intentions at this point in the contest.
She added she believes the Liberals will win re-election nationally and wants to give the region a say at the federal level.
“The important thing is that we have good representation for the riding,” Ch’ng said.
Mauro said it's far too early in the process.
"I haven't really given it any consideration one way or the other," he said.
Ch'ng plans to continue with her city council duties for the foreseeable future, but added she has spoken to the city clerk’s office about what her requirements would be should she win the nomination.
“I would more than likely wait until the writ gets dropped and take a leave of absence.”
Councillors are allowed up to three months off, without pay, before the seat can be declared vacant.
Another former councillor, Linda Rydholm, will represent the Conservatives in the election, scheduled for October.
The NDP and Green Party have yet to name a nominee.