THUNDER BAY – The clock is already ticking for members of the new city council, the freshly sworn in mayor said during his first public address in the new role.
The new Thunder Bay city council was officially welcomed during a ceremonial meeting Monday night at city hall, with the new 13 municipally elected representatives taking their oaths of office in front of a gallery full of family and supporters.
Delivering his inaugural address as the city’s mayor, Bill Mauro said the next 120 days will send a signal to the community about what to expect during their term.
“People want results,” Mauro said. “While we have four years together I believe that to a large degree, it is the next four months that may define who we are as a group. Budget is just around the corner and it represents our first major test. The electorate will be watching.”
The new mayor, a former two-term Northwood ward councillor, made his return to council chambers for the first time in 15 years after serving as the MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan and cabinet minister in the previous Liberal provincial government.
Mauro recognized the five new councillors making their debut in public office – McIntyre Coun. Albert Aiello, McKellar Coun. Brian Hamilton, Neebing Coun. Cody Fraser and Westfort Coun. Kristen Oliver and at-large Coun. Peng You.
It will be important for the new council to quickly set priorities, Mauro stressed.
“We must be community builders. That means deciding. Why don’t we have an indoor turf facility in 2018?” Mauro said.
“That means narrowing our focus. Are still pursuing an event centre and new hockey rink or have we moved on from that for now.”
Aiello said there were a lot emotions and was happy to share the night with his family but knows there is a great task ahead.
“I think people want to see positive change,” Aiello said. “I think with this diverse group of council that we have now, I think that will hopefully be a reality.”
Fraser, a law student who is the youngest member of council, is embracing being their voice.
“I think I just bring a millennial perspective,” Fraser said. “I think we’re often labelled as lazy, not wanting to work and all those kind of things. I just want to prove to people that it’s not the case for everybody. I think people our age have a lot to offer and I want to demonstrate that.”
Mauro warned his colleagues that trying to be all things to all people pleases no one. He also recognized the toll that political life brings, particularly in the age of social media where he said there is a “level of incivility and personal virtual assault never seen before.”
“We cannot be all things to all people,” Mauro said. “There is a silent majority that is looking to their elected leaders to speak our truth and make the tough decisions.”
The honeymoon period will likely be over quickly, Mauro warned.
“Tonight you have been sworn in and as we say in this business, tomorrow you get sworn at,” Mauro said.
The new council will meet on Tuesday where they will select appointments to boards and committees.