RUSSELL – With Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MPP Grant Crack announcing last week that he won’t be seeking re-election in June, another contender has stepped forward to take his place.

Current Russell Township Mayor Pierre Leroux announced not long after Crack’s decision was shared that he’ll be vying to be the provincial Liberal candidate in the riding.

“While it was unexpected, the timing seems right,” Leroux told the Winchester Press. “Last fall I sold my businesses, my three boys are older now and it is towards the end of my term as mayor, and I got asked, so that helped.”

Leroux calls himself a “committed public servant,” as well as a former volunteer firefighter and longtime small business owner, with shops in both Embrun and Casselman at one time.

Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MPP Grant Crack (left) has announced he’ll be retiring from provincial politics ahead of June’s election, while current Russell Township Mayor Pierre Leroux is aiming to be the Liberal candidate to replace him.

He’s been a Russell Township resident for the past 17 years.

“There is no better place to raise a family or run a business,” Leroux said. “People here deserve a provincial representative who understands the challenges that we all face, and more importantly, someone who understands the opportunities that our area has to offer. I am someone who is committed to making our lives easier and more affordable.”

As for vying for a Queen’s Park seat as a Liberal, having been a longtime Progressive Conservative (PC) supporter, Leroux was clear in his decision.

“I’ve always said that I’m fiscally conservative and socially liberal, but I think the most important thing is who is the best person to represent our riding,” he said. “As someone in the ‘sandwich generation,’ I understand the challenges of aging parents, kids, education and mental health. The Liberal party is making investments in those areas.”

Should he win the Liberal ticket and claim an election victory, Leroux is targeting some key upgrades for the riding, including better access to land ambulance service, widening the Highway 17 and 174 corridor in Clarence-Rockland, and servicing the Highway 417 industrial park in Russell, as well as improved access to hydro, natural gas and high-speed Internet in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell’s rural areas.

Leroux has said he’ll run to be Russell Township’s mayor once again this fall should he not be successful at the provincial level.

If he contends in June’s election, Leroux will face-off against fellow Russell Township council member Amanda Simard, the riding’s PC candidate.

As for Crack, who was first elected in 2011, he said in a statement that he’s retiring from the provincial level to pursue other career opportunities.