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.
Successful Orillia businessman Joe Winacott has thrown his hat into the race to become a Ward 4 city councillor.
The 43-year-old Oshawa native has lived in Orillia for the past 30 years and has owned and operated Studabakers Beachside Restaurant in downtown Orillia for 14 years while raising his small family. This will be Winacott’s first foray into politics.
“I’m always one to share my opinion on how I feel about Orillia,” he said. “With great management behind me at work, I can dedicate myself to improving on some of the things I give my opinions on.”
Winacott says he and his family have a deep love for Orillia and now is the time to give back by making his current hometown a better place to live. During the last election, Winacott got the idea to run for council, but at the time his business wasn’t quite where he wanted it to be.
“I think to be a councillor you have to have the time and dedication,” he said. “A lot of communication has been lost over the years through councillors and their constituents and I want to bring that back.”
The skills Winacott has developed through running his business make him a worthy candidate for council, he says.
“I believe communication is the key to success,” he said. “I believe we do so well because we listen to our customers and staff.”
Winacott’s goal is to make sure everyone in his prospective ward has his contact information; he plans on going door-to-door to open the lines of communication.
“I want to find out what matters to my ward,” he said. “Then, I’ll bring that to the meetings to discuss.”
While running his business in Ward 4, Winacott says he has never spoken to his councillors.
“Nobody has ever come to me or communicated anything with me,” he said. “We didn’t even know that the roads were being closed this summer for construction.”
Winacott says residents and business owners deserve to be made aware of what is going on in the city, especially the things that will impact their day-to-day lives.
He also wants to put a focus on community safety. He has heard multiple recent first-hand accounts of people being mugged or followed.
“This is something I want to address and put some education into,” he said. “I want to make downtown and Ward 4 a lot safer.”
The biggest challenge that Orillians are facing is affordable housing and the cost of inflation, Winacott says, noting that local seniors are being hit the hardest.
“Most seniors are on fixed budgets and cannot afford the rising cost of living,” he said. “They are the backbone of our community and deserve our help.”
No matter the election result, he wants to see Orillia moving in the right direction over the next four years.
“I want to make sure the next four years leave Orillia in a better spot than it is in right now,” he said.
While Winacott says he hasn’t always agreed with the current council, overall, he thinks they have done a good job.
“I think they lag on a few things,” he said. “Safety is one, parking is another one, but at the end of the day it’s easy to sit here and critique what they’ve done without getting in the ring and knowing what it’s all about.”
The current Ward 4 councillors are Pat Hehn and Tim Lauer. Hehn is not seeking re-election. Other confirmed candidates are Janet-Lynne Durnford, Paula Hill-Coulson and Pat Reid. Tyson Renshaw has withdrawn from the race.