NEEBING, ONT. — Obie Egbuchulam is hoping to make a difference in the Municipality of Neebing.
The social service worker, who filed his nomination papers Wednesday, will try to unseat veteran councillor Brian Wright in Crooks Township in the upcoming municipal election.
Egbuchulam, whose father and grandfather were politicians, feels his time is now.
“I feel that I’m a community organizer and I’ve been involved with helping good candidates win,” said Egbuchulam, who was a campaign manager for Liberal MP Marcus Powlowski and has helped with Liberal MP Patty Hajdu’s political runs. “At this point in time, I felt I am ready to support the community directly by myself and I want to do it.”
Egbuchulam, who immigrated to Canada from Nigeria in 2009, said he believes he has the qualities to bring Neebing to the next level.
“I will say (I bring) critical thinking, decision making, problem solving, passion and political savvy (to the campaign),” said Egbuchulam, who is working on a masters degree from Lakehead University. “We have to think things through before making decisions and solving problems. We have to make diversity, equity and inclusion (a priority). We need people that believe in the journey and I know when people say diversity, equity and inclusion, the first thing that comes to people’s minds is (that it is) risk related. That’s part of it, but not all of it.”
Egbuchulam also wants to be a voice for the disabled and the LGBTQ+ community should he be elected, saying “be at that table where policies are made to ensure everybody is being carried along and represented.”
The addition of Egbuchulam sees the candidate total rise to 10 for the seven spots on council (mayor, councillor at large and five township councillors).
While Egbuchulam battles Wright for the Crooks Township seat on council, former mayor Ziggy Polkowski and current Blake Township councillor Mark Thibert are facing off for the mayor’s job with current mayor Erwin Butikofer not running in this fall’s election.
Looking to fill Thibert’s position in Blake are Ron Woit and Gary Shchepanik, while Gordon Cuthbertson (at large), Curtis Coulson (Pardee), Gary Gardner (Pearson) and Brian Kurikka (Scoble) are currently running unopposed.
Meanwhile in the Township of Gillies, Dino DeBenetti filed his nomination papers for one of the four councillor positions. Only current councillor Elizabeth Jones and incumbent Reeve Wendy Wright had filed to run in Gillies prior to DeBenetti.
The nomination deadline of Aug. 19 for Ontario’s municipal elections is just two weeks away. Election day is slated for Oct. 24.
John Nagy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal