Her motto is, "Rather than complain about something, be part of the solution."
Former Elliot Lake retailer Helen Lefebvre has lived in the city for five years after growing up here, then spending part of her life working in the business world in another part of the province.
She made a previous run for an Elliot Lake council seat in 2018.
ElliotLakeToday spoke with Lefebvre about her second try in 2022.
ElliotLakeToday: What has prompted your decision to run for Elliot Lake council?
Lebebvre: "I have decided to run because I want to serve our community to the best of my abilities. Having grown up here and being back for the last five years and having owned a business, I have a good understanding of our community needs.
"I have talked to several people who want positive change. I have a good understanding of what’s required to implement change based on my experience and knowledge.
"I am a strong leader and team player and truly believe that with the state of the economy and where it’s heading, we are in for challenging times.
"We will need a strong council that works well together and can make decisions that are required for our community to thrive.
"My motto is rather than complain about something, be part of the solution."
ElliotLakeToday: Do you have any suggestions for improving our election process? i.e. nomination, registration, voting, campaign reporting, training requirements, etc.?
Lefebvre: "The last election had low voter turn out. As candidates, we need to do what we can to increase that.
"We can do a better job of raising the importance of voting, provide more avenues for people to meet the candidates and ask questions, understand the constraints that exist for people to vote and resolve them where we can.
"Our community needs a bigger voice and (needs to) know they are being heard."
ElliotLakeToday: What are the personal qualities that make for a good candidate?
Lefebvre: "The candidate must have the voters' needs as their first priority, no hidden agendas.
"They must be passionate about our community and want what’s best for all the people who live here.
"They must be compassionate, good listeners, honest and transparent.
"They must possess strong experience in getting things done.
"Ideally they have experience working on committees and understand the politics, working effectively as a team, listening to various opinions and what’s needed to implement change.
"A candidate should also have experience working with our local charities and non-profit organizations."
ElliotLakeToday: How do you feel about the current required training for newly-elected councillors?
Lefebvre: "The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO)-recognized training provides valuable insight into the roles and responsibilities of councillors.
"It’s important that councillors continue to educate themselves on changes that impact their role including, but not limited to, changes to legislation, policies, privacy and transparency as it relates to our community."
ElliotLakeToday: Do you feel any changes need to be made to the current Elliot Lake City Council committee system? i.e. selection process, makeup, responsibilities?
Lefebvre: "Committees have an important role in making recommendations, advising and providing support to implement change.
"Each committee should have a mandate with specific measurable goals within a set time period and the members must be committed to working with others within the committee and be held accountable in achieving those goals.
"The members of the committee should provide a good cross-section of the demographics of our community."
ElliotLakeToday: We all know about the impacts of inflation. Although council has not had a wage review since 2017, should councillors' remuneration be looked at again this year?
Lefebvre: "My opinion on this is money should not be a driving factor in becoming part of city council.
"A wage increase would come from tax payer money which we pay enough taxes for already.
"Council should choose the top two priorities that must be implemented during their term and a suggestion on a nominal pay increase that would be implemented, if those were achieved."
ElliotLakeToday: As a returned Elliot Laker, what is or are your best hope(s) for Elliot Lake in the next four years?
Lefebvre: "Whether I’m elected or not, my hopes are that council would be transparent in providing a plan for the next term that the community has had input into and agrees with, on the priorities.
"The plan would have specific goals for what will be delivered, what’s required to deliver the plan, the budget and timelines with ongoing communication provided to the community to provide status updates.
"The community should also be engaged on an ongoing basis to provide their feedback."
ElliotLakeToday: About plans for going ahead with the Arts Centre on Elizabeth Walk, do you agree with council's decision to proceed with it when our arena is on its last legs and will only be useable for another four years or so?
Lefebvre: "I would need to do my due diligence to get more background on each of these, identify what’s been proposed, the budget required and if the proposal is a long term solution or a bandaid fix.
"What’s the proposal for the long term fix? Have we done our due diligence to ensure the money is being spent effectively?
"Being a member of our community I do know some of the background, some of it from social media, some from talking to people.
"I don’t have all the information to form an informed opinion that I can back up. As the previous owner of 'Your Dollar Store With More' I am a strong supporter for both the arts community and the arena. Both serve a vital need in our community.
"This decision impacts a lot of people in our community and it’s important that we all have these answers to understand why a decision has been made.
"The fact that so many people are questioning this decision means that we need more transparency in decision making from our council."