THUNDER BAY -- Linda Rydholm will be looking to bring her municipal political experience to Parliament Hill.
The former longtime Neebing ward representative on Thunder Bay city councillor on Tuesday night was officially confirmed as the Conservative candidate in Thunder Bay-Rainy River, aiming to be the first person to turn the riding blue.
Rydholm, who was born in Fort Frances and spent part of her childhood in Atikokan, said over her combined 27 years serving as a city councillor and school board trustee she had been approached almost every election to run. When she was asked last month if she had any interest in carrying the Conservative banner in the upcoming October election, it felt like the right time.
"I think that people in Canada, not just Thunder Bay-Rainy River, are looking for hope. Hope with their lifestyle, an affordable lifestyle. I think they're looking for ethical people who will govern in Ottawa," Rydholm said.
"People I think have maybe become disappointed with what's happened in the past, regardless of parties. People are looking for help and I really like the Conservative grassroots approach to policy."
She was first elected to city council in 1997 following three terms as a school board trustee. After losing in 2000, she regained her seat in 2003 and was subsequently re-elected in 2006, 2010 and 2014. Rydholm was ousted by Cody Fraser in last fall's municipal election.
Rydholm's time in city politics also included a dozen years serving with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, an advocacy group of municipal leaders from across the country who have a successful track record in lobbying the federal government. She believes that experience makes her well familiar with Ottawa.
"Going on the (FCM) board gave me a bigger picture of what's happening across Canada," Rydholm said. "We were able to get the GST rebate, we were able to get federal gas tax money. Those two items alone for a city of our size is about $10 million."
No Conservative candidate has ever won the Thunder Bay-Rainy River riding, which was created prior to the 2004 election. In the five previous votes, the seat has been won twice by the NDP and three times by the Liberals, most recently by incumbent MPP Don Rusnak.
The last time a Conservative was elected to represent the area was 1930, when Robert James Manion was acclaimed in the former Fort William riding and Donald James Cowan was elected in the former Port Arthur-Thunder Bay riding.
Despite admitting that history, Rydholm is optimistic about both her chances locally and the party's nationally as Conservative leader Andrew Scheer heads into his first election at the helm, particularly as the Liberals continue to be engulfed by the ongoing SNC-Lavalin scandal.
"No one should be above the law. No one. We are at a unique time in our history where a female, Indigenous cabinet minister has defied her boss – seemingly that's what's happened from what we're hearing – and chosen the law," Rydholm said. "It's an important crisis that I hope will wake people up and realize that businesses shouldn't be above the law."
Rusnak has been nominated as the Liberal candidate, aiming to win a second term. The NDP and the Greens have yet to officially put a name on the ballot.
The federal election is scheduled to take place on or before Oct. 21.