After likening the City of Greater Sudbury to a sinking ship and withdrawing her candidacy, Pauline Fortin has reaffirmed she is seeking election in Ward 4.
Not only that, she’s joining her husband, Mark McKillop (Ward 7), in running for city council.
Fortin said she and her husband are “two people that have similar views and want to see the city do better, want to see the spending under control,” Fortin told Sudbury.com, adding that while they’ll vote independently of one another if elected, they share similar views.
As for her decision to re-enter the political fray, Fortin said people have reached out to her since she announced she was stepping down to encourage her to step back in.
“People have showed me that there is hope,” she said, adding that her defeatist attitude had a lot to do with prior expectations that were perhaps unrealistic.
“As a businessperson I’m used to seeing change happen quickly,” she said. “I make decisions, we move forward, we pivot, we do what needs to get done. The slow process of bureaucracy is new to me, and I will have to learn to slow down, change the pace … but I’m adaptable.”
Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland, who is seeking re-election, said Fortin throwing in the towel at the first sign of adversity doesn’t bode well now that she has reaffirmed her candidacy.
“I just think that Pauline’s already lost a lot of credibility with all the flip-flopping,” he said, adding she “blamed everyone but herself for dropping out of the race.”
Calling Fortin’s campaign thus far “bizarre,” he also questions her dual-ticket campaign. Calling Fortin prone to giving up on things, he wonders what will happen if one of them doesn’t win. Will they resign? Will their personal lives cause issues around council chambers?
“It’s a weird one,” he said. “So strange.”
At the time of her withdrawal a couple weeks ago, Fortin cited the city’s infrastructure deficit, debt load of approximately $355 million and perceived misplaced priorities as chief reasons for stepping down.
Predicting a new city council “no different or better than the current one” to come out of the Oct. 24 municipal election, she said her time would be better spent working directly in her community.
“There are some challenges that seem like there’s no way – it’s not going to work, but I think they can, and I’ve spoken to a lot of people and I’m going to stick in there and try and make some changes,” she told Sudbury.com today.
“It’s going to be very slow, one step at a time – one step in the right direction. … Hopefully I can make some change and move the city in the right direction.”
In a media release issued this week, Fortin called the $98.5-million Junction East Cultural Hub recently greenlit by city council a “mess” which is “morally bankrupt” to support in light of a homelessness crisis that should take priority.
“Absolutely, we need to take care of that situation,” she told Sudbury.com. “The Crosses for Change says it all. How can we be putting up this $98-million building and not taking care of the problem?”
Although her media release notes a transitional housing complex “can’t find a fraction of $100 million or a place to be built,” Lorraine Street was selected in August 2021, and city council unanimously approved funds for the project during 2022 budget deliberations.
During Tuesday’s city council meeting (which followed Fortin issuing the media release), the city’s elected officials approved a $14.4-million budget for the transitional housing complex’s design-build. Although the Assertive Community Treatment Team consisting of clinical supports for the facility is provincial jurisdiction, city council has tentatively opted to foot their $1.74-million annual cost until such time as the province steps up.
Taking a structure at Whitewater Lake Park as an example, Fortin said the city’s spending priorities have been misdirected.
“The roof is literally leaking, and the siding is falling off, and the cement pad is all cracked; it’s a hazard, but there’s no money to fix this.”
Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland addressed this issue last month in a discussion regarding an ongoing review of municipal campgrounds, which will result in a business case coming up for consideration during 2023 budget deliberations.
McCausland has registered to seek re-election, and political newcomer Alice Norquay is also running in Ward 4.
The city’s website has yet to list McKillop as a candidate in Ward 7, where he will face off against Natalie Labbée, Daniel Wiebes and Randy Hazlett.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.