WINCHESTER – The rumour was out there, flowing through the community, but Tony Fraser wasn’t yet prepared, personally or professionally, to comment on it.
Instead, he hunkered down, setting about the groundwork that would lead to his ultimate decision to declare himself a contender in this fall’s Township of North Dundas mayoral race.
“I wanted to be a councillor to be part of this community, which I have been for a number of years,” he told the Winchester Press Thurs., Feb. 1. “And now I think I can commit to being mayor to the level that is needed… When you’re in, you’re all in.”
Fraser was first elected to township council in 2010, and he quickly made a name for himself in the process with a hard stance against solar and wind development projects in the municipality, and championing the growth of the municipality, both residentially and supporting business expansion and retention.
In 2014, he returned to the council table through acclamation.
This time around, he’s hoping the leap will be made to the head of the council table, and his platform remains much the same as eight years ago.
“I think we need to maintain the course we’re on, and I don’t want to see some big change or see any sidetracking by missteps,” Fraser said. “More than anything, I want to give the community confidence in the leadership, and keep the enthusiasm in the business community going… I want to be the one to lead the team, and ensure the confidence continues throughout all of North Dundas.”
Beyond that, the mayoral hopeful wants developers and business owners to know the municipality is ready and willing to work on mutually beneficial projects.
“It’s time to show them that North Dundas is where things are done right,” Fraser added.
The recently renewed Communtiy Improvement Plan is also target of Fraser’s, though there is no desire to diminish its importance. What’s needed, he noted, is a further “evolution” of the initiative.
Already, the downtown core of Winchester has seen a rebound thanks to the financial helping hand, and Chesterville’s main commercial area is slowly catching on. The case is the same outside of the township’s main villages.
“The path we’re on, I think, works wells, and the challenges for the new council will be to come up with ways to improve on the successes,” Fraser said.
South Mountain and Hallville, as well as a key sections of Winchester are also “areas that are ripe” for residential growth, he added. To get there, though, Fraser was enthusiastic about increasing access to North Dundas’ building department and soothing some sour feelings among established developers in the region.
“For some, I think, there is a sense of knocking on the door, but it doesn’t seem to open wide enough… I see our [neighbouring municipalities] experiencing growth, and I think that would look good here, too,” he said. “We need to force the stretching of wings, and look at different areas to improve ourselves… Let’s open the door and welcome people in.”
The candidate period for this fall’s election officially opens Tues., May 1, before closing on Fri., July 27. Election day is set for Mon., Oct. 22.
There is already another candidate expected to run for mayor, with current Deputy-Mayor Gerry Boyce having made his intention clear late last year during Mayor Eric Duncan’s annual community breakfast.