The municipal vote is 4 months away. Here's how mayoral races in Windsor-Essex are shaping up

·4 min read
Windsor City Hall is shown in a file photo. Mayor Drew Dilkens has not yet registered as a candidate in the Oct. 24, 2022, vote. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC - image credit)
Windsor City Hall is shown in a file photo. Mayor Drew Dilkens has not yet registered as a candidate in the Oct. 24, 2022, vote. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC - image credit)

Four months from now, Windsor-Essex residents will be heading to the polls once again in municipal elections that are guaranteed to bring change to the local political landscape.

That's because mayors Aldo DiCarlo in Amherstburg, Marc Bondy in LaSalle and Nelson Santos in Kingsville are not seeking re-election.

In an interview, DiCarlo said he's not running again after eight years as mayor in order to spend more time with his family. The town's improved financial position was a highlight of his tenure, he said.

DiCarlo said he's not seen an election with such turnover among local mayors.

"Usually there's one or two and it's, say, a mayor who's put in a good 20 years or more of time in municipal politics and are just, you know, it's time for them to take a break...for me, I knew it was probably going to be — as long as the residents agreed — two or three terms."

Earlier this week, Santos said he wanted to spend more time with family and has accepted a new position. He is leaving office in July to become the chief administrative officer of the Township of Adjala-Tosorontio after serving as mayor for 19 years.

LISTEN: Nelson Santos stepping down as mayor

Municipal and school board trustee elections take place on Oct. 24 across Ontario, and the deadline for candidates to register is Aug. 19.

Lydia Miljan, a political science professor at the University of Windsor, said that races where there's no incumbent candidates tend to generate a bit more competition.

"Especially, even at the municipal level when we don't have a shoo-in or somebody that's perceived to be a solid bet, then people who might have been considering [running] in the past but, you know, just didn't put their name forward in the past might be more likely and more willing to put their names out there," she said.

She expects there will be more candidates vying for those open mayoral seats, but also more candidates for council positions as a result of current councillors seeking the top job.

Four months out, the most crowded mayoral race is the one in Amherstburg, with three candidates: Coun. Michael Prue, Frank Cerasa and Bob Rozankovic.

In LaSalle, current deputy mayor Crystal Meloche is the sole person seeking the mayor's seat. Tamara Stomp, the former deputy mayor of Kingsville, is the only candidate signed up so far for that mayoral race.

Elsewhere in the region, incumbent Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara is seeking re-election, and in Leamington, Hilda MacDonald is going for a second term.

Richard Meloche, who was appointed mayor in wake of Larry Snively's resignation in the Town of Essex, is the sole candidate currently registered to run for mayor in that municipality.

Tom Bain, the longtime mayor of Lakeshore, has not yet registered. He told CBC News he is strongly considering running but has yet to make a final decision.

Jason Viau/CBC
Jason Viau/CBC

Drew Dilkens, who was first elected as Windsor's mayor in 2014, has not yet signed up to run again. In a statement to CBC News, he didn't confirm or deny whether he'd be seeking a third term.

"I love what I do. I care deeply about the City of Windsor, its residents and our collective future," Dilkens said. "I'm focused on being mayor and delivering on the commitments I made to residents in 2018. There will be plenty of time later this summer to contemplate the future — including my potential candidacy in the 2022 municipal election."

Pelee Island's Mayor Raymond Durocher has not signed up for re-election. CBC was unable to reach him for comment on Thursday. Two candidates, Larry Bailey and Cathy Miller, have signed up to run for mayor.

3rd election in a year

This election means voters are heading to polls for the third time in about a year, following the federal election in September and provincial vote in the spring.

CBC News
CBC News

Miljan said that turnout in Canadian municipal elections is notoriously low to begin with, something she said is ironic because it's the level of government that is "closest to the people."

"There's a lot going on. We've had COVID, we've had lots of elections lately," she said. "So unless there's some really interesting open races, I suspect that voter turnout will probably remain low...unless there's something to really motivate people and get them to exercise their franchise."

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