Elliot Lake seniors, dogs and accessibility advocate Mike Thomas started out seeking a seat as one of six city councillors in the 2022 municipal election race.
Before candidate nominations closed in mid-August, he upped the ante, by taking a run at the mayor's chair instead.
We asked Thomas why he changed his candidacy and why he's taking a second crack at winning elected office after an earlier run in 2018.
ElliotLakeToday: Why are you running again?
Thomas: Over the last two terms, we have accumulated too many problems that stop anything from getting done. Our local government that makes decisions that affect our everyday life has become dysfunctional.
The divisions between the leadership and the community cannot continue.
ElliotLakeToday: What is your vision? Where do see Elliot Lake going in the next 10 years?
Thomas: I have a vision and a plan on what we can accomplish both as a community together while honouring the past, managing the present and planning for the future.
There are many well-suited candidates (in) this election that have listened to the community and stepped up to fill the gaps on council.
I originally considered running as a candidate for councillor in this election but decided that my skills or abilities and character would be better utilized as mayor.
We need leadership that listens, cultivates relationships and prioritizes the use of resources to move us forward within our means.
ElliotLakeToday: What are your qualifications for running for mayor of Elliot Lake?
Thomas: I have been an advocate for seniors, people with disabilities, and dogs for many years.
I have been active in the community assisting organizations, businesses and individuals, behind the scenes. I bring leadership skills to the table that were gained through a lifetime of work experience.
Over the span of my career, I have worked for, consulted for, and participated in legislative reform with all three levels of government.
I have a plan that includes consulting and involving the entire community to arrive at solutions to our many problems so we can be sustainable and prosperous in Elliott Lake.
ElliotLakeToday: Incumbent Dan Marchisella has made much of the time commitment that is imposed on those who wear the mayor's chain.
Are you prepared to make that commitment?
Thomas: My wife understands the task at hand and the sacrifice involved. I have her support. We are all Elliott Lakers, all in.
ElliotLakeToday: What are some of the specific goals you hope to achieve if elected mayor?
Thomas: (I want) governance remediation, re-engagement of the community via the procedural bylaw, and standardized committee terms of reference to empower a direct voice to council.
(We need to) streamline committees to reduce duplication and delays in getting actionable items to council.
Make municipal government accessible to all citizens in all formats required.
All external board reports (should be) submitted to council publicly and recorded.
There (should be) civic re-engagement and power participation on agencies in real-time to respond to community concerns.
(We need to) create a community awareness and promotion advisory committee (K PAC) and establish accountability of issues raised by the K PAC from council.
Chair of advisory committees to sit on Finance and Administrative standing committee.
Recalculate mill rates based on assigned values to all provided services in Elliot Lake and eliminate the urban surcharge.
ElliotLakeToday: Provision and access to the so-called 'soft services' was impacted during this current council term, partly due to changes imposed by the fight against COVID-19.
What do you think can be done to help restore those services?
Thomas: (There should be) recreational re-engagement and enhancement.
(We need) to create a recreation advisory committee to encapsulate an inclusive Age-Friendly Community.
(We need to) set out a Community Action Plan to be achievable and in place by the summer of 2023.
(We need to) inventory all parks and facilities to invest in user-defined needs.
(There should be) a community health services review.
(We need to) create a community medical services advisory committee.
(Carry out) recruitment and retention, review all disciplines, define the needs of all citizens children, families, seniors and people with disabilities.
There should be strategic planning for Aging in Place palliative care and hospices.
ElliotLakeToday: On the hot topic of business re-engagement and retention, what steps do you want council to take to boost business in Elliot Lake?
Thomas: Create a mayor's Task Force on business strategic planning for a five to 10-year plan.
Form a business improvement and retention advisory committee.
Inventory all commercial property and review its status for occupancy.
Do a cost-benefit analysis for commercial industrial properties under city control to make them shovel-ready.