Conmee Twp., Ont. — Gayle Manns and her family have a strong military background and she feels she can be a force as a councillor in Conmee Township.
Manns, who is the co-owner of the Northwestern Ontario Military and Police Museum with her husband Bob, is up against five other councillor candidates who include incumbent Grant Arnold as well as newcomers David Halvorsen, Ellen Davis, David Maxwell and Chris Kresack. The six candidates are vying for four council seats.
One of the key issues Manns is running on concerns a lack of training for hands-on township staff.
“I’d like to see more training for the people that actually do the work in our community like firefighters and road personnel,” said Manns, who was a teacher in the Lakehead Public School Board system. “I think they need more up-to-date training and we need to address some of the staffing issues in those areas.
“I don’t think we have enough people really involved in our volunteer fire department because we often have to call on neighbouring townships in order to augment our personnel when responding to a fire or something like that.”
Manns, whose family moved to Conmee Township in 1986, has an extensive military background as does her husband Bob, a Canadian Armed Forces veteran and retired Ontario Provincial Police officer.
Their daughter served with the Canadian Reserves for 12 years and their son, who is retiring next year from Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, had tours in Afghanistan and Iraq during his military career.
Manns wants to use that muscle to see property taxes lowered and squeeze into a chamber that has been deemed a cozy council by some candidates running in Conmee.
“Something has to be looked at into that type of situation that’s happening,” Manns said. “We need to be a lot fairer to the general population and to the people that we serve when we’re on council.
“You have to take a look at whether there is anything in the bylaws that would cover these kinds of issues. If there are bylaws that are not being properly enforced, then we need to take a look at that.
“Just generally taking a look that if an investigation has to take place, then an investigation has to take place.
“I think the best thing that we could be looking at is a forensic audit. Take a look at past practices and moving forward and making sure that we’re working in an atmosphere where things are being properly done.”
Manns is also in favour of an amalgamation with the Municipality of Oliver Paipoonge where she says residents of the neighbouring municipality were given information on their tax base that was “a little bit misleading . . . and wasn’t properly explained.”
Manns said the amalgamation would have seen Conmee’s taxes remain at its high level for three years until Conmee’s debt was paid off before joining up with Oliver Paipoonge’s tax base.
In the Conmee mayor’s race, Sheila Maxwell, who took over the mayor’s seat from Kevin Holland when the former mayor won the Thunder Bay-Atikokan riding for the ruling Conservatives, is being opposed by Suzanne Huot.
Municipal elections are set for Oct. 24.
John Nagy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal