The second time may be a charm for Sandra O’Connor, who announced Saturday that she will again attempt to run for Niagara-on-the-Lake town council.
O’Connor filed her nomination papers on May 2, becoming the first officially registered council candidate for the NOTL’s 2018 municipal election.
She said in an interview Monday that this time around is different because she “applied right off the bat,” unlike her late-in-the-game attempt in 2014.
For this campaign she said she wanted to submit early to have more time to spread her message and let the public know what she's bringing to the table.
O’Connor’s message remains consistent with her previous campaign: “protect and enhance our cultural and natural heritage.”
“To me, that’s why people visit Niagara-on-the-Lake,” she said, “and if we destroy why people are coming here, what makes Niagara-on-the-Lake special, we also impact our economic base as well.”
The St. Catharines native graduated from geography and urban studies at Brock University before leaving Niagara to pursue her career in conservation.
She said she returned to her roots in Niagara-on-the-Lake – where her grandparents once owned a farm – upon her 2011 retirement, to be close to family and because “it’s one of the most beautiful places in Canada to live.”
She said retirement has given her the time and opportunity to give back to the community.
O’Connor is a member of the Preserving Agricultural Lands Society and the Niagara Region’s Smarter Niagara Steering Committee – a group that looks at new ways to grow urban areas while protecting the environment.
She’s also spent the past three years leading the proposal for an urban tree bylaw on behalf of the NOTL Conservancy.
One of her first priorities, she said, would be making sure the official plan is completed along with complimentary bylaws to create a foundation upon which council could protect the town’s culture and nature.
She said she would also work to “build a climate of trust” with the community by being “accessible and responsive.”
“I think one of the problems is council’s not getting back to people when they raise the issues,” she said.
A more personal priority, said O’Connor, would be keeping doctors in NOTL.
After her father developed the Marcus superbug while admitted to the St. Catharines hospital on Queenston St., she said they transferred him to the Port Colborne hospital to spend his last days – an hour away from his wife who did not drive.
“There’s not enough facilities for people,” she said. “We need hospital beds here, we need palliative care here, we need medical services here.”
NOTL residents head to the polls on Monday, Oct. 22. Interested candidates have until July 27 to complete the nomination process.
For more information on the upcoming municipal election, go to notl.org.