Orillia Coun. Mason Ainsworth is hoping to seize the opportunity to sit in the big chair at city hall.
The first-time mayoral candidate has served as a Ward 3 councillor for the past eight years, during which Steve Clarke has been mayor. Clarke announced earlier this year he would not be seeking a third term.
Ainsworth says it’s important for Orillia’s next mayor to have the experience of being on city council, the ability to bring people together, and a proven track record of accomplishments.
“I’m somebody who can steer the ship in the right direction,” he said. “I can bring different perspectives around the table ... and actually get something done.”
Running for mayor wasn’t on Ainsworth’s agenda until two-term Ward 2 Coun. Rob Kloostra withdrew from the mayor's race.
“Rob and I are personal friends outside of council,” Ainsworth explained. “I was helping out Rob with his campaign until Rob decided to get out of the campaign for various reasons.”
With Kloostra stepping down, Ainsworth said it was an ideal opportunity for him to step up.
“I will be a mayor that is accountable, approachable and hard working to the citizens of Orillia,” he said. “I can bring people together from various political backgrounds and perspectives, and get the job done — whatever that job may be.”
If elected, Ainsworth, 30, said his priority as mayor will be making sure Orillia has a council that works together.
“For me, it’s more about the approach when it’s in regard to specific items,” he said. “The approach would be pragmatic, one that is logical, where we say, ‘Hey, let’s look at the facts, let’s look at the information, and let’s base our decisions on those facts in consultation with the public.’”
Ainsworth says he has been in constant communication with citizens from all walks of life from across the city and surrounding townships over the past eight years. His two terms on council have provided “invaluable learning experiences” he hopes to apply to the job as mayor.
“We have done a wonderful job on a whole bunch of different items around the city,” he said. “I have the experience of getting things accomplished.”
He acknowledges situations don’t always go as planned for council, but he says that has also been a good experience for him.
“That lived experience of being on the job is really important to transfer,” he said. “I’m not hitting the ground new like anyone else that will be running or doesn’t have any political experience on the city council.”
Outside of council, Ainsworth is past-president and current secretary of the Rotaract Club of Orillia. The organization aims to help young adults develop leadership skills.
“Since we’ve created it, it’s more than doubled in size,” he said, noting the club has been involved in more than 13 events this year.
“By the end of this year, if not early next year, it will be the biggest service club in the area,” said the Lakehead University graduate.
“Not only did we start something, but we also did the full job and went above and beyond. That’s very much how I roll.”
Ainsworth is also a mortgage agent with The Mortgage Coach on Coldwater Street East.
On Monday, July 25, Ainsworth will host a campaign-launch party at St. Louis Bar and Grill from 7 to 9 p.m.
“There is going to be a special announcement,” he said. “I’m not going to spoil that for you. You have to be there to see it.”