Statement for Nomination Day 2022
Despite much encouragement from friends and supporters in the community, I am not running in the 2022 municipal election.
My current focus is on my practice and my leadership role with the Federation of Ontario Law Associations. I also continue to serve on the executive of the Rainy River District Law Association, and in volunteer board roles with the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, the Northwest Community Legal Clinic, and Borderland Pride. These are each wonderful organizations that I am proud to be part of.
I am also proud of what I have been able to accomplish on council in the Town of Fort Frances since 2018. I am the primary author of our friendship accord with the Agency One First Nations, I successfully drove a process to rename Colonization Road and better live up to our community's reconciliation commitments, and it was my initiative that has brought into being the plans to expand Phair Avenue Park, to build a new splash park at Legion Park, and to ban certain single-use plastics.
Some of these initiatives have been noticed across the province and country. I am grateful to the constituents that have embraced, urged, and inspired these projects. It is from them that I know there are many valuable and impactful ways to drive change in our region outside of elected office. That type of work will continue for me as well.
This has not been an easy term of office, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges early this term surrounding the Fort Frances mill and access to forest resources, and new social issues emerging in our community related to substance abuse and homelessness.
It has not been an easy term in council chambers either. As the only member of council who is not retired and has a full-time job, I have often been the only voice speaking out for young people and their families and the contemporary challenges they face. In the past year, the current council has refused to remove barriers which prevent working-age people from participating in local government.
Sadly, I have also, too often, been the lone voice demanding accountability, requiring that I incur personal cost to address corruption, illegality, and attacks on municipal staff and advisors. Unfortunately, most of my colleagues have chosen to brand me as 'the problem' rather than address the actual problem.
Turnover on council is necessary to move this community forward. The current council lacks the diversity of perspective or lived experience to get the job done. That's why I am buoyed by some of the new faces stepping forward to serve. We need more of them, and I encourage all citizens to get involved in municipal committees and boards, and to take part in the upcoming official plan consultation process.
As for this race, I have offered my support to Andrew Hallikas in his bid for Mayor. Andrew brings the type of inclusive, forward-thinking, and kind leadership we need in this office.
Douglas W. Judson