Good afternoon and thank you for coming back.
The grapevine on the Island is very busy and active. As per the hit song by Gladys Knight & the Pips I heard (it through the grapevine) that local resident Katherine Henshell was going to be running for mayor of St Joseph Township and so I had to speak to her. I do not have much knowledge yet of the Island and its’ political history as I have only recently planted my feet here, but I did know that Mayor Jody Wildman has held the post for many years.
I spoke with Mrs. Henshell this morning and this what transpired.
1) Can you please give me a brief summary of your occupation, family situation, and residency please?
I am a real estate and civil litigation lawyer and the general focus of my practice is where we (my firm) represent clients that are owed monies and we work to retrieve that for them. I am married & have been for 23 years and my husband and I have three children ages 9, 7, and 6. I live here in Richards Landing full time and my law office is located in Burlington Ontario. I will go there occasionally when I have to appear physically but that is not as often anymore with the advantages of Zoom meetings and things of that nature.
2) Do you have any leadership or political background that you believe would make you qualified to run for mayor against an incumbent.
Yes I do; I ran for toen council in 2014 in Burlington in a riding of 30 000 voters. I did not run in 2018 because at that time I decided to make Richards Landing my full time residence in order to raise my family in this beautiful community. I have also sat on many boards either as a member or a chairperson. I volunteer quite a bit and have even been to Louisiana to help the people after the devastating Hurricane Katrina. I have helped out with Habitat for Humanity at times.
3) I didn’t put these questions in particular order but most importantly the voters are going to want to know your reason for wanting to be mayor. Can you please address this to the potential voters and residents.
It’s time for a change and some new and fresh ideas. It’s time for the community to feel that they are involved and that their voices will be heard. The community needs a voice to reflect their ideas for this township. The townships leadership seems to want to create more rules and enact more bylaws to stop things from happening. Every time you create a bylaw you take away from someones’ freedoms. When someone makes a request from the township the first words out their mouths should be how can I help you and it’s not. This township (in my opinion) does not promote business, support business, or business growth.
4) In regards to Mayor Wildman; are you comfortable with giving an example of where he may have stopped progress or stopped voices being reflected to achieve a particular goal set before him.
It is a long story but well understood by the residents; Mayor Wildman was against the construction of the “Ray of Light” lighthouse located in downtown Richards Landing. It took the Lighthouse Committee a 5 year battle with the Township in order to get a final approval. If you are unfamiliar you can reference it in Judge Stortinis’ book Only In Canada and the Lighthouse Sequel pages 227-230.
5) What ideas do you have specifically in regards to change as per your answer earlier.
We need to embrace and strategize things in the community to attract visitors such as the lighthouse, the marina, the tugboats, the water, vibrant friendly energy and things of that nature. We need an aggressive marketing campaign. I also think I would lobby for a splashpad for the kids where they can enjoy themselves as well as the parents when they shop in our small businesses. I would bring some ideas such as recently I was in Soo Michigan and saw they had sidewalk days where every business or vendor could sell their wears on the street; it was so vibrant that I asked a local business owner about it and they said through word of mouth and constant energy they attract 600 000 visitors to their tiny community per year. We need to.. and I will bring energy and promote growth of business but in a realistic way and not infringe on the towns dynamics and populace. We need growth that is able to sustain the winter months but not overwhelm the local population. We could also have something like a pirate boat that they have in Sea Shell city Michigan but we could use a tugboat that is safe for the kids to play on while one of the parents watches them and another grabs a coffee and shops. We need people to take a day trip to Richards Landing (from the Soo) and contribute to the economy and return with good memories to advertise to others. This needs to be done because we have a beautiful Island and beautiful people. The problem right now with Richards Landing is that it is a seasonal economy and we need to promote a 12 month economy.
6) Mayor Wildman has been in office for I believe 16 years roughly; that is quite the benchmark and I am wondering why do you think that is.
Well first of all he ran against somebody and obviously won but the next election he was acclaimed (no opposing candidate), and then he ran against somebody and won, and then again won the next election by acclimation. Part of the reason is that there wasn’t anyone that ran against him in two of those elections. Now when he first ran and won, I heard that he was enthusiastic but moving to the last time he was challenged where 754 residents voted, he only beat Bryon Hall by only a mere 44 votes so that there shows that the residents wanted change and almost unseated Mayor Wildman.
7) Last and final question; How confident are you that you have the support and the ability to win this upcoming election.
Very; I have spoken with many residents and people in the business community and everyone has been overly encouraging and enthusiastic. They have said it is time for a change. I also should say that through word of mouth a lot of people have asked for a lawn sign to be put on their property when that is allowable by the election campaigning laws.
**I will be reaching out to Mayor Jody Wildman in the coming days to hopefully have a sit down with him as well**
Thanks for reading and have a super weekend.