GILLIES TWP., ONT. — Some veteran Township of Gillies councillors have lobbied for having fresh faces on the next council and they may get their wish.
South Gillies resident Dino DeBenetti filed his nomination papers this week, looking to grab one of the four councillor spots. With two weeks to go to file, only current councillor Elizabeth Jones is confirmed for seeking re-election.
Gillies councillors Rudy Buitenhuis and Bill Groenheide are still undecided if they are going to run and Karen O’Gorman will not be seeking re-election.
Which leaves a few spots open presently and DeBenetti would be more than happy to voice his opinion at the council table.
“It’s an exciting time (for the Township of Gillies),” said DeBenetti. “Things are changing, growing in directions I thought I’d never see them go. . . . . I was sitting on the sidelines for years and it seems like a very opportune time to get in and put in your three cents, so to speak. I guess — inflation-wise — who knows how much it would be — three dollars worth now?
“I’ve never been a councillor for a municipality or anything like that, but I’ve been in unions and on union executives. It’s given me kind of a taste of how things work in boardrooms and voting (procedures). I do have managerial experience, so I’m not totally out of the woods here.”
DeBenetti has been a resident of Gillies since 2007 and has been getting to know the community over the past 15 years. The author of two books over the past four years believes the community needs to be more involved in the township’s politics.
“Community awareness and community participation has gone down for obvious reasons (COVID-19),” said DeBenetti. “I think community is most important because I think they know more than politicians allow them to project. I think the community can help by saying, ‘Hey, this is too uncomfortable’ or ‘Maybe we’re not doing enough here’. I think we’ve gotten away from that — not just the last couple of years — over the last 20 years. Is the community involved enough? Should they be more involved? Should they be more involved directly in decisions? These are questions that have to be asked and addressed.”
DeBenetti’s first book, which came out in 2018, is about researching the esoteric arts and was called Soothsaying Tarot and the Mantegna Revealed. He said he foresees the future being bright for the township.
“If I had to look into my magic crystal ball, so to speak, South Gillies has a really good future ahead of it,” said DeBenetti. “The way things are growing right now — if allowed by the Ontario government, because everybody knows that they call the shots as far as growth — if portrayed properly and if we can get these guys to look our way from Toronto and really care what’s happening in our community. . . . Come down here and look at what we’re doing.
“I also think there’s growth possibility for South Gillies in tourism. The more people you get coming across that (Canada-U.S. border), the more wealth is going to be shared for tourism places and people that depend on that for their livelihood. And that trickles down to everything else.”
Presently, Township of Gillies Mayor Wendy Wright is running unopposed.
Prospective candidates have until Aug. 19 to file their nomination papers for the mayor’s job or the four councillor positions in Gillies with municipal elections set for Oct. 24.
John Nagy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal