OrilliaMatters will profile all the candidates seeking election in the Oct. 24 municipal election. Prospective candidates have until Aug. 19 to submit their nomination papers.
Luke Leatherdale loves Orillia, so he is running to be a city councillor in Ward 2 in this fall's municipal election.
The 37-year-old Park Street Collegiate Institute graduate has lived in Orillia his whole life.
“I have a deep love for this city,” he said. “This is a special place.”
Leatherdale says his family has been in Orillia for seven generations. His grandfather, Bruce, started Leatherdale Marine and his father, Don, is a local real estate agent.
Leatherdale describes himself as a “disciplined” individual, coming from a weightlifting and running background, as well as working in several "blue-collar" industries.
He graduated from the Police Foundations program at Georgian College and worked as a security guard at Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital before landing his current gig as a custodian at the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board.
“Every job I’ve ever had I’ve had to earn my dollar,” he said. “That makes me respect the taxpayers' dollar even more.”
While Leatherdale has no prior political experience, local politics are of keen interest to him.
“I read OrilliaMatters every day,” he said. “I follow local politics closely.”
Leatherdale says it’s advantageous to have someone who doesn’t have political experience on city council.
“I’m coming from a blue-collar perspective,” he said. “I understand people’s struggles.”
Leatherdale’s lifelong love of Orillia is what inspired him to run in this year’s municipal election.
“I want to see only the best for Orillia and its citizens,” he said. “I want to maintain its uniqueness.”
If elected, Leatherdale hopes to bring financial discipline back to city hall.
“We can’t be spending all this money on legacy projects,” he said. “We need to focus on the basics again.”
In a time of inflation, when Orillia families are suffering amid financial struggles, Leatherdale says it’s time for city council to help the average Orillian save money.
“We need to spend our money wisely,” he said. “We need to lower costs for the average citizen of Orillia and start to save enough money to take on the other issues which are well known.”
Leatherdale wants to see the average person in Orillia doing better four years from now — at the end of the next term of council — than they are now. If elected, Leatherdale vows to make wise decisions and to “have the discipline to see it through.”
Leatherdale believes the current council members may be well-intentioned, but he says it's time for some fresh perspectives.
“It wouldn’t hurt to have some young blood on council,” he said. “As Orillia evolves, council needs to evolve with it.”
Rob Kloostra and Ralph Cipolla are the current Ward 2 councillors. Kloostra has announced he will not be running this fall, but Cipolla has filed his nomination papers to run again. Alan Bayne and Ian Gordon are also running in the ward. The deadline to file nomination papers is Aug. 19.