Geraldine Robinson is the third announced unofficial candidate for mayor in Elliot Lake this year. She filed her nomination papers at city hall on Aug. 3.
Before arriving in town she served two terms as councillor in Beckwith Township, a rural township of 5,000 people, south of Ottawa.
As a junior councillor, she attended seminars on councillor duties, and some others on roads.
As part of her duties, she sat on the financial, planning, fire and road committees.
She was appointed chair of the local Economic Development Committee and coordinated the Small Business Retention Program in Beckwith, winning an international award for innovation.
She was also a director for Valley Heartland Community Futures Development Corporation and the eastern Ontario representative to the Ontario Board of Community Futures Development.
If elected in Elliot Lake she says she’s especially motivated to see the city’s roads improved.
Robinson says for Elliot Lake to prosper, it must be aggressively marketed not only as a retirement living centre but also as a place for tourism and industry.
“The city must investigate and implement inventive business opportunities," she explained.
"I am a positive hardworking individual. When I accept a task, I will complete it to the best of my ability,” Robinson added.
She’s a veteran of the Royal Canadian Air Force and served for 23 years as an administrative clerk.
She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Manitoba.
ElliotLakeToday asked Robinson several questions about her candidacy, aspirations and qualifications.
ElliotLakeToday: What has prompted your decision to run for mayor?
Robinson: I feel that the city of Elliot Lake has had an ineffective council. The city has not prospered; indeed, the opposite seems to be true. I served two terms as a councillor in the Township of Beckwith under a very effective and efficient leader.
I would hope to follow that example. I believe in an open and transparent operation of council business.
I would like to see an aggressive policy in support of and attracting business. The problem of the infrastructure of the city needs urgent action.
A possible solution for health care would be to establish a walk-in medical clinic.
I would appreciate the chance to be part of the solution to make Elliot Lake thrive.
ElliotLakeToday: It is too late to think about implementing e-voting in Elliot Lake in 2022, but considering the turnout in 2018 was 30 percent less than four years earlier, will mail-in voting this time out help or hinder the turnout?
Robinson: With the problem of COVID-19 and the disabilities that many voters face, I believe that mail-in ballots would help to increase voter turnout.
ElliotLakeToday: Otherwise, do you favour such changes to the voting process? Can you see any advantages or pitfalls?
Robinson: Other than allowing valid mail-in ballots, I do not see the need for change.
ElliotLakeToday: What qualities, attitudes, experiences or aspirations should the voters look for when they examine the field of candidates who register to run in this fall's municipal election?
Robinson: I would like to see candidates with a clear vision of how they would address the problems of Elliot Lake. Also, a spirit of cooperation to enable the council to work efficiently. People who have proven that they are interested in their community by actively volunteering.
ElliotLakeToday: How do you feel about the current training requirements for newly-elected councillors?
Robinson: I think new councillors should take advantage of any seminars and courses that are offered to new councillors. When newly elected to council, I took courses on government, roads, property, and septic systems. They were all valuable in my council duties.
ElliotLakeToday: Do you feel any changes need to be made to the current Elliot Lake council committee system? I.e. selection process, makeup, remuneration, responsibilities?
Robinson: I feel with the population of Elliot, only four councillors are needed to be effective
ElliotLakeToday: We all know about the impacts of inflation. Although council has not had a wage review since 2017, should council remuneration be looked at again this year, since we can't talk about 2023 yet?
Robinson: The amount of council remuneration should be researched and then come up with a recommendation.
ElliotLakeToday: There has been much criticism of the city's handling of the golf course sale offer. Many complained about a lack of transparency in the decision making process. Could the whole issue have been handled better? If so, how? What lessons can we take away from the episode?
Robinson: The fact that the present council goes into closed meetings regularly does not develop public trust. In fact, it does the exact opposite. The mayor stated in a public meeting that the decisions were made in public. That is not sufficient.
The public should be aware of all aspects of the decision, the councillor’s opinions, the arguments for and against the issue. Only then there would be trust.
At the same public meeting, the question of closed meetings arose and the mayor strongly supported the practice. His justification of saving money was weak. Since one wondered why the money was being spent. Making decisions behind closed doors is a practice that should cease.
ElliotLakeToday: Do you have any other thoughts about city governance and operations or the current campaign?
Robinson: I think that the City of Elliot Lake needs a complete change of council. A new council should be elected, one with an agenda to work together and improve life in the city.
Robinson is being challenged in her run for mayor by incumbent Dan Marchisella and Coun. Chris Patrie.