‘A big part is being able to get along with other folks and playing well in the sandbox to make the best decisions’ – Heather Jackson on her return to the political spotlight


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As is the case with so many things in life, it all becomes a matter of timing. And so, three-and-a-half years after losing to Joe Preston by less than 650 votes in the 2018 St. Thomas municipal vote as she sought a third term as mayor, Heather Jackson asserts the time is right to return to politics.
In this case, she is on the verge of being acclaimed as Liberal candidate for Elgin-Middlesex-London in the June provincial election.
Her candidacy will become official before the end of the month, and it is not without some controversy (see the following item).
“It’s all about timing,” advised Jackson, “and I think it’s a good opportunity to jump back into politics and see if I can make a difference again.”
Timing, in this case, relates to former MPP Jeff Yurek’s decision to not seek re-election in June and in the process surrender his seat at the end of February.

“It definitely was,” confirmed Jackson, “and I have a great deal of respect for Jeff and I think he has done a great job representing the riding … it’s big shoes to fill, for sure.”
Jackson is adamant she had no intention to run provincially as a Conservative member.

Heather Jackson cropped

“No, I’m definitely not blue. It’s funny because when Jeff made the announcement, I have a lot of friends who are Conservative . . . and a lot of them reached out to me knowing I’m not Conservative and said, “Hey you should look at this opportunity.”
Jackson is anxious to begin campaigning in earnest and her confirmation as the Liberal candidate is expected to be announced the week of March 21.
“We’re less than three months to the election and I am eager to get out and start knocking on doors and talking to folks and hearing from people what the key issues are for them in the riding.”
As for those issues, housing tops the list according to Jackson.
“Definitely housing and affordable housing, as well. That’s a huge issue.
“I wrapped up my time with the United Way in January and the last three years the position I was in, we saw firsthand all of the stresses the pandemic has caused to individuals in our community who are struggling.
“And I know every community is facing these issues but, for me, it’s really about how we approach those as rural communities. Things are done a lot differently even than they are in the City of London.
“I want to be able to bring that voice forward.
“Housing for sure and. Keeping our schools in rural communities and understanding that means we don’t need massive schools that we bus kids to.

“When I was mayor, I never showed my cards. A lot of people thought I was a Conservative, not Liberal. I did that intentionally. You need to be able to work with whoever is in government. I’ve got a good history of being able to work with whoever is in charge.”

“There is a good reason to keep these smaller schools in our communities.”
There’s no shortage of concerns, stated Jackson, including health care and long-term care. Issues the pandemic has brought to the forefront.
“Helping change the quality of life for folks and help people move the needle forward.”
As we talked Friday afternoon, Jackson advised she is already moving forward with her campaign team.
“Looking to get my CFO (chief financial officer) in place . . . and then campaign manager as well. Looking to fill those two roles, hopefully in the next week to make those announcements at the nomination meeting.
“I’ve had a lot of people reaching out and saying how can we help?”
After 11 years under the blue Conservative banner, could the riding return to the days of Liberal representation under MPP Steve Peters who held the seat from 1999 through to 2011?
“When I was mayor, I never showed my cards. A lot of people thought I was a Conservative, not Liberal.

“When I finished as mayor, this was definitely not on my radar. I was going to take a break from politics but I think I’ve got that bug back. I’m really wanting to be supportive of the community again and I’m looking forward to being involved.”

“I did that intentionally. You need to be able to work with whoever is in government. I’ve got a good history of being able to work with whoever is in charge.
“I’m asking people to look at the issues and support me and I’m certainly very much about the riding and the community and about helping people here.
“A big part is being able to get along with other folks and playing well in the sandbox to make the best decisions.”
Between Yurek and Peters, she has more than two decades of provincial experience to draw from.
“Before I put my papers in, I did have a chat with Steve Peters and he gave me some really good advice and pointers and now that Jeff has officially wrapped up his time I would love to sit down with him and get some tips as well.
“I know he is a Conservative but I consider him a friend and we worked really well when I was mayor so I do look forward to having that conversation and bending his ear on a few things.
“When I finished as mayor, this was definitely not on my radar. I was going to take a break from politics but I think I’ve got that bug back.
“I’m really wanting to be supportive of the community again and I’m looking forward to being involved.”
FEMALES ONLY NEED APPLY

Heather Jackson’s pending acclamation as Liberal candidate for Elgin-Middlesex-London in the June provincial election is not without a hint of controversy.
Up until this past week, Dennis Crevits, Central Elgin Ward 2 councillor, was under the impression his nomination papers filed in January and accompanying supporter signatures meant he would be considered as a nominee.

Dennis Crevits

Crevits was the acting riding president after St. Thomas councillor Lori Baldwin-Sands recently stepped down from the post.
We spoke with Crevits yesterday (March 11) about his disappointment in the turn of events.
“I submitted my papers two-and-a-half months ago and I signed up in excess of 250 members.”
What followed “is not a fair process,” asserted Crevits.
An email had been sent to Baldwin-Sands, as riding president at the time, from the provincial party commissioner that Elgin-Middlesex-London had been designated as a women-only riding.
In other words, only female candidates need apply.
Reading from the email, “Our leader Steven Del Duca has made a commitment to achieve gender parity for our slate of candidates in the next election.
“The nomination rules for the OLP (Ontario Liberal Party) empowers me, in my capacity as nomination commissioner to designate a nomination contest open to only women.

“If it was women only, the local riding association could have pursued other women to run. And that would have happened had it been pre-determined.”

“I have designated the contest in the riding of Elgin-Middlesex-London for nomination suggestions who identify as women.”
Crevits said some of the people from whom he had garnered support and signatures “are just in awe that this could happen.”
He added, “It’s almost as if someone knew this was in the cards already.
“If it was women only, the local riding association could have pursued other women to run. And that would have happened had it been pre-determined.”
A frustrating process Crevits called “dirty politics.”
This process might make his decision on whether to run as mayor of Central Elgin in the fall municipal election just a little clearer.
MAKING CITY PARKS MORE INCLUSIVE

At the March 7 council meeting, members approved an expenditure of $600,000 for the construction of the Parish Park playground in the Orchard Park subdivision.
In addition to the playground, the park will include an outdoor fitness equipment area and accessible pathways crafted from recycled rubber throughout the different areas.

Orchard Park playground March 2022

The 10-acre park will also have a play and shade structure, and a berm that can double as a toboggan hill.
It is to be an inclusive space allowing “individuals with a disability to use all areas as independently as possible, participate actively with friends and family and have a choice of activities to take part in,” according to the report to council from Adrienne Jefferson, the city’s parks and forestry supervisor.

“We’ve got a lot of new subdivisions starting in the next few years and they will all end up with a park and so we might as well start upgrading to that standard.”

Installation of the playground will begin this spring and further development of the park is expected to begin in the fall, assuming no further supply chain delays.
Coun. Gary Clarke sought to include a friendly amendment that council require all new parks be designed to include fully accessible playgrounds and that all replacement of playground equipment at existing parks include accessible playgrounds where possible.
That would include the rubberized accessible pathways.
Council fully endorsed the amendment.
We spoke with Coun. Clarke later in the week and he explained the part of the problem is the use of wood chips in playground areas – most recently in Pinafore – which make it difficult to navigate for anyone with accessibility issues.
“We’ve got a lot of new subdivisions starting in the next few years and they will all end up with a park and so we might as well start upgrading to that standard.”
The rubberized pathways are similar to the outdoor tracks at Parkside Collegiate and St. Joe’s High School.
It’s now in place at OnePassword Park in the city’s north end.
Clarke would also like to see accessible playground equipment like swings.
“It’s being more aware of accessibility and inclusion for all,” noted Clarke.
FOR THE CALENDAR

Petrusia Hontar, project manager at St. Thomas-Elgin Local Immigration Partnership this week passed along more details regarding a fundraiser scheduled for March 22 at the CASO station in St. Thomas in support of the Ukrainian people.
The goal of the event is to raise $10,000, advises Hontar “while introducing aspects of Ukrainian culture to the community.”

March for Ukraine fundraiser 2 (1)

She continues, the fundraiser will include Ukrainian food samples courtesy of Salt and Pepper Meals and Killder Food, a barbecue hosted by the St. Thomas Kinsmen, crafts, a history talk, a silent auction and a marketplace to buy items in support of Ukraine. The event is licensed and proceeds likewise go to the cause.
Tickets are available here.
For more information, reach out to Petrusia Hontar at phontar@gmail.com or 416-557-0299 or Patricia Maki at tp_maki@icloud.com, 519-868-2356.

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And a reminder, I can be heard weekday afternoons as news anchor and reporter on 94.1 myFM in St. Thomas. As always, your comments and input are appreciated.

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One thought on “‘A big part is being able to get along with other folks and playing well in the sandbox to make the best decisions’ – Heather Jackson on her return to the political spotlight

  1. “Females Only Need Apply”

    This would appear to be blatant discrimination. The Liberal Party of Ontario’s Steven Del Duca “has made a commitment to achieve gender parity for our slate of candidates in the next election.”

    I’m flabbergasted. That would mean that Heather Jackson would be acclaimed automatically, unless another female decided to run. That’s the way I see it.

    The OPP in the late 1980’s decided, in their infinite wisdom, that they would NOT hire any “White, Anglo-Saxon males during a ‘parity’ hiring blitz. I don’t think that went well as I recall.

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