Regional council candidates unite for online forum

While former Niagara District Council of Women president Gracia Janes says she’s impressed with the women running in the October 24 municipal elections, she’s disappointed there aren’t more.

Fifteen of the 18 women hoping for a seat on the Niagara Region Council will share their motivation and hopes for the upcoming term at an online forum hosted by the Niagara District Council of Women. It takes place Wednesday at 7 p.m.

In 2018, 21 women ran for regional council seats. Seven were elected.

” I’m a little disappointed. I had hoped there would be more,” Janes said.

“But on the other hand, I think those who are there are really good people. A lot of them have experience and they’ve done a good job.

“And others have plenty of good ideas.”

Janes said she fears the criticism women in politics often face may have deterred some of them from putting their names forward this time around.

“You are really at risk (of abuse) and that is from here all the way to the federal level. We have to change things. Something has to happen,” she said. “But this group is brave enough to do it (run for election).”

The online conference will include four candidates from the Niagara Falls area – Karen Fraser, Barbara Greenwood, Carolynn Ioannoni, Joyce Morocco – and four from St. Catharines – Haley Bateman, Sabrina Hill, Alicia Marshall, Trecia McLennon.

Other participating candidates include Peggy Cook from West Lincoln, Diana Huson from Pelham, Andrea Kaiser from Niagara-on-the-Lake and Michelle Seaborn from Grimsby.

The event also includes mayoral candidates Sandra MacKinnon and Connie Topolinsky who are both running in Niagara Falls, as well as Betty Disero who is running for re-election in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Sandra Easton, who has been acclaimed for another term as mayor of Lincoln, is not officially participating in the discussion, but Janes said she will be present.

The event will be hosted by outgoing Port Colborne County. Barbara Butters.

Butters was subjected to vitriol during her last term – including a ‘disturbing’ letter mailed to her home wishing her a ‘slow and painful death’.

However, she said her decision to walk away from this election was based on wanting to spend more with her family after 25 years in office, rather than intimidation.

She said she hopes the vitriol too many politicians have faced in the last term has not discouraged more women who might have considered running for office. After a federal election last November and a provincial election in the spring, she said election fatigue could also be to blame.

Janes said Wednesday’s event will not be a debate.

Instead, the women will each have five minutes to speak in alphabetical order while answering questions from an online audience.

“We just try to be positive. We believe these people all have something to offer and they don’t need the hassle. We don’t need people with strong opinions to be emotional at a candidate-only election meeting,” Janes said.

The Women’s Council has asked those interested to register by emailing [email protected]