OrilliaMatters will profile all the candidates seeking election in the Oct. 24 municipal election.
A lifelong Orillian and Empower Simcoe support worker has entered the race for a Ward 3 council position.
Jeff Czetwerzuk is a recent graduate of Lakehead University’s social work program, which built upon the child and youth care diploma he completed at Georgian College in 2018.
Over the past several years, Czetwerzuk has balanced his studies with his work at Empower Simcoe, community engagements, and roles in student government.
While at Georgian, he served as the student association’s vice-president of external relations and was elected to the college’s board of governors.
He currently serves as president of Rotaract Orillia.
At 26, Czetwerzuk is among the youngest vying for a council position this fall. With a number of council members stepping down, he wants to seize the opportunity to bring a young voice to the council table.
“I think this is a really important election in the City of Orillia. I really think that it’s a good opportunity to get some really good, diverse people on council,” he told OrilliaMatters. “Being (a younger candidate) in the run really offers me an opportunity to make an impact and really bring a new, fresh perspective.
“Everyone has an equal say, and I think young people really need to show themselves on council and run for something they’re passionate about.”
Czetwerzuk looks at serving on council as a way to build on his current involvement in the community.
“I have some experience. I have a passion for community. I love volunteering and being involved,” he said. “This lets me take that to the next level and really work for the people and ensure that things get done the way people want them done.”
Affordable housing is among the key issues Czetwerzuk would like to address if elected.
“It’s important to support affordable and accessible housing. I work in a field right now where I deal with housing a lot, and I see the gaps in housing currently, but I also think it’s important to support housing for everyone and make sure there’s options,” he said. “As someone who wants to be a first-time homebuyer, I know how tough the market is to get into right now, and a lot of young folks are really struggling with that.”
He also plans to prioritize fiscal responsibility in his decision making.
“I think it’s really important for the council to be fiscally responsible. I know there’s a lot of big-purchase items that have happened recently and will be happening in the future (and) we’ve got to really look at the taxpayer dollar and make sure we’re making smart decisions,” he said. “I want a council that will really discuss these big purchases and ensure that we’re doing the right thing.”
Czetwerzuk also listed physician recruitment, bringing in ridesharing services, and improving local transportation infrastructure among the issues council needs to address.
“Getting things in place like Uber, different infrastructure, (and) supporting different progress, such as physician recruitment, is huge,” he said. “I think that’s a huge issue that we’re going to be looking at, and ensuring that the city streets are safe and taking care of things that may seem small but need to get done.”
Engaging the community will also be a top priority, Czetwerzuk said.
“I want to make sure things that people actually care about are looked after,” he said. “With my background, I’ve always been in the community helping with people, and I’m always volunteering, so I hear things … and I think getting everyone’s perspectives together while you’re making these decisions really helps.”
As the world moves out of the pandemic, Czetwerzuk is sensitive to the hardships people have faced and he plans to factor that into his role, if elected.
“We’re still working through that and there’s been a lot of struggle there, and I think it’s impacted Orillia in various ways,” he said. “It’s important to have that perspective while you’re on council, as well to ensure that we’re making things a little bit easier on folks and ensuring that things are getting done the right way. It was a tough time for a lot of people.”
Mason Ainsworth and Jay Fallis are the current Ward 3 councillors. Ainsworth has announced he is running for mayor, leaving Fallis, Czetwerzuk, Deval Brahmbatt, Zak Gariba, Elizabeth Van Houtte and Nick Wray in contention for two positions.