On Aug. 10, Rick Bull, a longtime Elliot Lake resident, former City of Elliot Lake employee and union official, filed his nomination papers to enter this year's municipal election race.
In an extensive field, he's looking to land one of the six city councillor positions on voting day, Oct. 24.
Following a nearly 40-year career with the city, Bull took his retirement in 2015. He says he's spending a lot more time now with his four grandchildren, among other things.
Bull also continues to keep a keen eye on all things civic in our community and finds himself at odds with a few of the trends he's seen play out recently at city hall.
ElliotLakeToday asked him to list some of the reasons he decided to let his name stand for election.
ElliotLakeToday: What are some of your specific concerns about the way things have been handled lately that led you to run?
Bull: I’m concerned about the future in this town. I wasn’t impressed with the cancellation of the summer day camp program and how the golf course and ski hill issues were handled.
I feel that council hasn’t been as open as it could and I want to ensure better communication and openness.
I don’t think we have an overall sense of direction for the city towards the future and I would like to see a well-laid out plan.
ElliotLakeToday: Do you have any suggestions for improving our election process?
Bull: I think the election process is good but I would be interested in seeing how online voting would work.
ElliotLakeToday: What are some of the qualities the voters need to look for when they decide who to elect for the next four-year term on council?
Bull: Candidates should run for the betterment of the community. They should be able to listen to both sides of an issue and make a decision.
They should have some knowledge of the history of our beautiful city. They should be approachable, good listeners and be willing to help people the best they can.
Candidates shouldn’t have personal agendas. I’m not saying some do, it's just a general statement.
They should be able to maintain their composure if things don’t work out. I have experience in doing budgets and administering a budget.
I was a union president for 15-plus years so I have experience in how meetings are run and how to listen to people and bring a group together for
a common cause.
I was the treasurer for the Elliot Lake Mixed Slo Pitch league for 10 years and was president of a local bowling league.
ElliotLakeToday: How do you feel about the training requirements for newly-elected councillors?
Bull: It's obvious by our Integrity Commissioner bills that more training is needed.
I took the online “So you Want to Run for Municipal Council” seminar and it was a bit of an eye-opener.
There are quite a few regulations and procedures that have to be followed and learning these would help the whole process go smoothly.
ElliotLakeToday: Do you feel any changes are needed for the current Elliot Lake City Council committee system? i.e. selection process, makeup, remuneration, responsibilities?
Bull: I think the current process is working and the committees do what they can do but the ultimate decision makers are the council, and if they fail the
committees, then we all lose.
ElliotLakeToday: No sooner had most of us stopped wearing our COVID-19 face masks, than we became aware of a big jump in prices caused by inflation that settled in during the pandemic. Council has not had a wage review since 2017, so should their remuneration be looked at again this year by the current council?
Bull: No, it's not about the money.
ElliotLakeToday: As a person who has lived here for 55 years through many economic cycles, what is your best hope for change and improvement in our city over the next four years?
Bull: I think we are like a ship without a sail right now. I know we need some type of four to five-year plan to get back on course.
To me, it seems we just go by whims. Our roads and infrastructure are in desperate need of repair, yet we have time to focus on electric charging stations.
We need a plan to upgrade the roads (there have been temporary bump signs on Hillside now for 10 years), to upgrade the infrastructure, to attract businesses that want to make Elliot Lake home and to increase our attractiveness to visitors and increase tourism.
We need to keep the younger working families with children here. The schools are filling yet our recreation facilities are failing (arena, pool, ball fields).
ElliotLakeToday: Council has given the go-ahead for the Arts Centre on Elizabeth Walk. Do you agree with that decision? Also, is it wise to proceed with an arts hub when our arena is on its last legs and will only last another four or five years?
Bull: I believe we need an Arts Centre and a new arena. I hope the new location works out for the Arts Centre, but now we are under a timeline with regards to funding and when dealing with old buildings, issues always arise that could cost more.
I think this decision should have been left to the new council. But now the new council has to deal with any fallout. There could also be an issue with parking.
The Centennial Arena is 55 years old and the current structure is holding but for how much longer? It should have been replaced years ago.
Council back in the day, (not this current council), had a “run to fail” attitude, which meant that only money was available if there were major breakdowns, instead of upgrading.
We are paying for it now. We knew these days were coming when buildings, roads and infrastructure are failing and it appears nothing was done to plan for replacement.
If we don’t do something we risk losing the young families and that would be on all of us.