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Fraser won't seek 2nd term in Neebing

Coun. Cody Fraser's decision not to run again in 2022 could be a blow to age diversity on Thunder Bay's city council.
Cody Fraser Mar 9
Neebing Ward city councillor Cody Fraser will not run for a second term in 2022, he told TBnewswatch. (File photo)

THUNDER BAY – Neebing Coun. Cody Fraser will not seek a second term on city council, he has told TBnewswatch.

Fraser called serving on council the honour of his life, but said as a young legal professional hoping to start a family, the workload had become unsustainable.

“I didn’t come by the decision lightly – it was probably one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make,” he said. “However, I’m getting married this summer, I’m beginning a new chapter in my life, and I think it’s a good time for me to take a step back.”

“For me, the pace I was at as far as work-life balance… there wasn’t much balance, if any.”

The decision could be a blow to age diversity on council, with Fraser, who turns 30 this year, the youngest sitting member by about a decade.

He hopes the Oct. 24 election will see other younger candidates elected, but acknowledged there are serious challenges to youth participation.

A desire to see his generation represented – and dispel the narrative that millennials are apathetic – was one motivation for his 2018 run, in which he improbably unseated incumbent Linda Rydholm.

“I would really like to see a young professional take my seat,” he said. “Part of why I’m announcing quite early is to give folks who are hemming and hawing, but maybe they don’t want to run against an incumbent, the opportunity to get organized.”

Thunder Bay’s city council is not necessarily friendly to youth participation, he acknowledged.

“It certainly is a friendly place as far as the supports you get, everyone’s kind,” he said. “But is the job conducive to people who [are] starting a career, starting a family? It certainly is not.”

It’s not an easy problem to fix without drastically reshaping a model in which all of council’s 13 members, save the mayor, are considered part-time employees.

“I think the only way you could rectify that would be to have it be a full-time position that pays well enough to attract someone of that calibre to leave their job and go do it,” he said. “Short of that, I think as a part-time job it will always attract business owners with flexible schedules and folks who are retired – that’s just the truth of the matter. It’s a full-time job with part-time pay.”

The gig may be a challenge for those starting a career or a family, he acknowledged, but he encouraged other young people considering a run to jump in feet first.

“I’d like to think my experience – me running and winning – can show people you can do this, it is possible as a young person, as a young professional,” he said.

Looking back on his single term on council, he said he had found constituency work, helping individual residents resolve concerns, surprisingly rewarding.

He also pointed to a successful push to allocate funds toward the city’s infrastructure gap and the launch of a secondary plan for the Parkdale area as two accomplishments he’s proud of.

Asked how he’d grade the current term of council, Fraser said he’d assign an A-.

“We had a pandemic to deal with… and I thought we managed quite well. The only reason I don’t give an A or an A+ is I think sometimes we struggled with our procedure, sometimes we forgot to stay on point.”

Fraser at times expressed frustration during council meetings, worrying aloud that lengthy debates and stalled decision-making could undermine the community’s faith in council.

“Democracy is exceptionally frustrating sometimes, but it’s also beautiful,” he said. “For me, I’m a much more patient man leaving council than coming in.”

Ian Kaufman

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