It’s still a work in progress, however there now is the very distinct possibility late next year Elgin residents will be represented for the first time by a female MP.
The announcement Saturday of Karen Vecchio as the riding’s federal Conservative nominee sets up a showdown with former city alderman Lori Baldwin-Sands, acclaimed last month as the Liberal nominee in Elgin-Middlesex-London.
Fred Sinclair is seeking the nomination for EML NDP candidate.
Still on a high from Saturday’s victory over five other very qualified individuals, Vecchio noted the male-dominated federal playing field here is already in transformation.
“Look at our nomination, there were four women and two men,” Vecchio pointed out in an interview Friday.
“My campaign team is fifty-fifty. I find the party itself has become much more family oriented where it’s about moms and dads and grand-parents. Having a woman doesn’t change things.”
It does, however, break new ground in Elgin.
“I’m proud to be part of history,” she observed.
A Vecchio victory next fall would take her ever further from her Sparta roots.
“Coming from Sparta that’s the grass roots. The work ethic coming from a farm, the understanding you work every single day. That’s one thing that has been bred in me.”
So, would the possibility of a new address in the capital take the farm out of the girl?
“Ottawa won’t change that, because my husband (Mike), my parents and all of my friends will make sure Ottawa does not change that.”
The key to the success of her boss for 10 years, MP Joe Preston, was his knack for super-serving constituents of all political stripes and, if successful in the federal vote, Vecchio will cling to that playbook.
“If would be crazy to think it wasn’t because of the success of this office and Joe. One of the greatest reasons I am where I am is because he has that philosophy of customer service. That’s what he hires for. So everybody I work with, even in Ottawa, it’s all about customer service.
“His family is all about that. And I think him and I were raised that way.”
Vecchio will have to look no further than Preston to serve as her campaign manager.
“Out of all the people in the world, he’s one of the guys who knows me best. We have an excellent working relationship and we can be honest with one another and that’s what you need.”
Will that mean months of nagging from the big guy?
“Not nagging, he will tell. Nagging is like a request. There will be a tell. I won’t have a choice,” laughed Vecchio.
“And, if I’m successful I see him helping me through those first few months getting my feet on the ground. That is his role. He is my mentor through and through. He has always wanted what is best for this community and that is what has been bred into all of us on staff.”
In closing, Vecchio stressed she will never forget the roots of her raising.
“At the end of the day, regardless of what happens, I’m still Karen. Joe ran that campaign as Average Joe. I don’t have that Average Joe thing, but at the same time, that’s exactly who I am, I’m just Karen.”
THEY’RE COMING BACK
The willy-nilly use of corporate credit cards at city hall was drastically pared back in 2006, following claims of abuse by card holders which led to then mayor Jeff Kohler striking a policy review committee with a mandate to tighten up existing policy and spending parameters.
That summer, under the direction of chairman Ald. Cliff Barwick, committee members put the bite on food and alcohol purchases, fine-tuned the statement approval process and encouraged department heads to review use with a view to reducing the number of cards in circulation.
In 2008, council passed a resolution implementing the use of just one corporate card at city hall, to be retained in the purchasing department.
In their heyday, 47 cards were in circulation.
Well, a report to council Monday calls for the issuance of one card for each city department, if deemed necessary. And there’s the proviso further cards could be issued in the future, where warranted at the discretion of city treasurer David Aristone.
The reason for expansion of the corporate card program, according to Aristone, is complaints from administrative staff struggling “to procure goods and services of a small nature through use of one corporate credit card based upon the volume of transactions that occur each month.”
Perhaps Aristone should dig out the minutes of the 2006 policy review committee.
NO NEED TO YELL “CAR COMING”
Andrew Gunn, trustee for the estate of Dorothy Palmer, has good news for road hockey aficionados.
The estate is offering to donate $25,000 to the city to be used toward the development of a road hockey rink in Jonas Street Park.
If council authorizes the city to enter into an agreement with Gunn for the donation, the proposed rink could be in operation some time in 2016.
And you know what’s coming next, anger from frustrated ‘boarders about lack of movement on a skatepark.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Politics is about the people, and when we forget it’s about the people we go south. And she will not.”
MP Joe Preston’s observation Saturday when his long-time assistant, Karen Vecchio, was chosen to succeed him as the Elgin-Middlesex-London Conservative nominee in the 2015 federal vote.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow @ianscityscope