It's still early days, but battle lines are already being drawn in Sudbury's municipal election campaign, with many of the 27 declared candidates having labour-friendly backgrounds.
Their ranks include union executives and active NDP supporters, spurred on by the growth in the local ridings. The party currently holds three of the four federal and provincial seats, and has a good shot of winning in Sudbury when a provincial vote is called.
Hannu Piironen, a local lawyer and NDP supporter running in Ward 10, says he's getting a lot of informal help from his orange friends. He and other like-minded hopefuls are realizing that a left-leaning candidate can win.
“I think they feel more confident that they have a chance of being elected,” he said. “They look at (Sudbury MP) Glenn Thibeault as an example of someone who proved you can get elected. And now Joe Cimino has a very good chance of being elected. It's all good.”
Cimino, the NDP's provincial candidate in Sudbury, is currently city councillor for Ward 1. Piironen said having political experience at the municipal level sets you up for the future.
“It's been a goal of the NDP to get more candidates elected who share their philosophy,” he said. “And it's a good incubator to have candidates available to run for higher office … You get practical experience and name recognition, as well.”
Sudbury NDP president Richard Eberhardt said the party has no formal links with any of the candidates, but they support electing “labour-friendly, progressive people.
“We've elected New Democrats in seats in Sudbury and Nickel Belt and across the northeast, and we know that's having an impact,” Eberhardt said. “That's prompting people who are progressive to step up and seek those council seats. They want to make sure that progressive values are maintained in this city.”
Specifically, he says the party wants to counter the message from groups like the conservative Greater Sudbury Taxpayer's Association, which has lobbied for a more business-friendly agenda at city hall.
“That encourages people who don't agree with that message to stand up,” he said. “But in any organized way? No, absolutely not. There's no formal connection between the NDP and any of the candidates.”
But not all candidates are left of centre. Aaron Beaudry, a Realtor running in Ward 9, says rather than going left, Sudburians are realizing that electing a mayor with a business agenda isn't enough.
“I think a lot of people thought that mayors have a lot more power than they actually do,” Beaudry said. “A lot of people voted for (Mayor Marianne Matichuk) thinking they would get 24-hour shopping, which she campaigned on last time.
“I think voters understand now you need the majority of council voting with her. So I think you'll see a lot more people voting for like-minded people in this election.”
The municipal election is slated for Oct. 27 this year.
Mayor: Ed Pokonzie
Ward 1: Ian Heft
Ward 2: Chad Odnokon
Ward 3: Matt Belanger
Ward 4: Richard Paquette
Ward 5: Joseph Berthelot, Robert Kirwan, John Lundrigan and Kent MacNeill
Ward 6: Fernand Bidal, Kevin Brault
Ward 7: Dave Kilgour, Walter Prus
Ward 8: Fabio Belli
Ward 9: Aaron Beaudry, Lin Gibson, Les Lisk, Wyman MacKinnon, Deb McIntosh, Paul Stopciati, Adam Toews
Ward 10: Fern Cormier, Hannu Piironen, Steve Ripley
Ward 11: Mike Bleskie, Loretta Maillet
Ward 12: Tay Butt