It was a bright and warm Friday morning as Lord Mayor Betty Disero gathered with dozens of supporters to submit her application to run for re-election this fall.
“I just wanted to say how humbled and appreciative I am of all of you and everyone who signed and put their trust in me to run again this year,” Disero told her supporters after turning in her application at town hall.
In order to submit an application, a candidate needs at least 25 signatures of support from residents.
Disero had more than 1,000.
“I started off getting 25 signatures, other people offered to help. Then it just snowballed into over a thousand,” Disero said in an interview outside town hall.
She said she is humbled and appreciative to have received so many signatures this early in the campaign.
Disero laid out several issues she sees as important for Niagara-on-the-Lake, including ones related to the town’s zoning bylaw.
“We’re waiting on the official plan to be approved by the province but we feel now that it’s time to review the zoning bylaw. We’ve started that process,” she said.
There are three important aspects of the zoning bylaw's review, she said,
“One is heritage — more protection for heritage properties.”
The second is dealing with the growth of monster homes through a contextual zoning bylaw, “so that way we’re not getting monster homes next to bungalows,” she said.
The last aspect of the zoning bylaw is appropriately incorporating secondary suites and accessory dwellings, she said.
“So if they meet a certain criteria they would be allowed, as of right.”
Disero pushed back against claims that the current council has depleted the town’s reserves.
“Simply not true,” she said, contending the town has more in its reserves now than previous councils did.
Disero also emphasized the importance of financial management in dealing with infrastructure.
“That is going to do two things, one is to bring a better quality of life for our residents and meet the current needs and needs as they evolve.”
“And, secondly, build a foundation for our businesses to prosper. I don’t want to do their business but I want to make it easier for them to be successful.”
On Wednesday, after weeks of speculation, regional Coun. Gary Zalepa confirmed he will be running for mayor this fall.
"I like Gary Zalepa and I welcome the discussion," Disero said in response to the news.
"I'm sure that people will be able to see the difference of approach and positions and we'll see what happens," she said.
"I like campaigning and I'm sure that it will be fulsome and respectful."
Among Disero’s supporters on Friday was her mother, Lena Disero.
“She’s doing a great job and everyone is saying, 'Don’t leave us now. Don’t leave us now. Run again,’ ” Lena said.
She said the life of a politician is not for her, but she admires her daughter's energy.
“It’s not for me, but I like to be involved and help out,” Lena said.
“Even if you make a tray of cookies, that’s a great big help,” she said with a laugh.
Evan Saunders, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report