WINCHESTER — And then there were two.
North Dundas Councillor Tony Fraser confirms he will seek the mayor’s job in this year’s municipal election. Nominations for the contest won’t officially open until later this spring — but Fraser is now the second sitting member of township council to go on record about his intent to replace Mayor Eric Duncan, who isn’t running for re-election. (Fraser was preceded in December by a public announcement from Deputy Mayor Gerry Boyce.)
First elected in 2010, the two-time councillor and home-game voice of the North Dundas Rockets hockey team, promises to officially launch his campaign in mid-May.
The married father of one adult daughter, Fraser, 54, says he’s been planning a mayoral run for the past year, after taking a communications course at the urging of the outgoing mayor in January 2017. “I took a course at his suggestion to learn how to deliver a message in a more efficient manner, with the goal of serving the municipality as mayor.”
“It was a thought, it was a plan put into motion. There was a lot of discussion with my wife and campaign manager, Amy,” he adds during a recent visit with Nation Valley News in Chesterville.
For the Winchester Parmalat employee and current acting Winchester Fire Chief, the evident polishing of oratory skills arises from an earnest desire to further improve the township and its economy from the mayor’s chair. “I want business people to have the confidence, of any age, to say, ‘I’m willing to come and open a business in North Dundas,’” he says, adding, “It’s all a continuation of what we’re doing under Mayor Duncan.
“I want to continue in the direction that we’re going, but I want to find more ways of improving ourselves,” adds Fraser, who was born at Winchester District Memorial Hospital and grew up in Chesterville. “
He marvels at the number of years that have already passed since he first arrived on council, at the conclusion of the same election that saw Duncan first sworn in as mayor to great fanfare in front of a huge crowd in the North Dundas District High School gymnasium. “I can’t get over it, eight years, and I’m excited by every meeting still. I never think, ‘I have to go to a meeting tonight. It’s something I look forward to.”
Fraser says the township has been “lucky” to have had such a “driven” mayor as Eric Duncan and freely admits his own public speaking skills can’t match those of the outgoing head of council. But he’s been encouraged by people “from all corners” of the community to fill the shoes Duncan will leave behind, he says, noting that politicians from other communities and other levels of government have also quizzed him on his plans. “And they’ve been positive about my intentions.”
His desire to become mayor hasn’t been secret, Fraser says, adding he’s been telling people — when asked — for quite some time now. “I’m all in. This is something I want. Lots of thought and discussion has gone into how to be successful at this, and how the community can be successful.”
His campaign will also espouse the continuation of better relations with neighbouring South Dundas, he says, and advocate for more attention from the United Counties level of government. “I may be wrong to think things here are sometimes overlooked” by SDG, he says, highlighting North Dundas’s distance from Counties’ headquarters in Cornwall.
Reached for comment, Mayor Eric Duncan says he will remain neutral in the upcoming race to replace him and that his “door is always open” to prospective candidates seeking advice.