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HomeNewsMany Mayors Across Kawarthas Leaving Politics, Not Running For Re-Election

Many Mayors Across Kawarthas Leaving Politics, Not Running For Re-Election

Man deciding not to run for re-election in fall 

KAWARTHA LAKES-The political landscape across the Kawarthas will look much different after the upcoming fall election. Mayors across the Kawarthas are leaving municipal politics en masse and have decided not to run for re-election in the October 24 municipal election.  Some like Kawartha Lakes Mayor Andy Letham had never intended to serve more than two terms. 

“I always had in my mind right from the start that I would serve for two terms if the voters would have me for two terms. I think there should be term limits on municipal councillors. These 30-40 year councillors I don’t think is productive for anybody,” Letham said. “You should be forced to sit out a term and then you can run again if you want. Turnover and fresh ideas are very important in municipal politics. I always said I would run for the two terms and then I would move on and look for something else and let someone else take over. I’m quite happy with what we’ve been able tlo get done in my eight years.”   

Letham said he cannot speak to why so many mayors in the Kawarthas are not running again. He said he thinks it is a similar situation right across the province.

“We are going to lose some people and I think it’s probably a combination of things including the Covid pandemic. It has taken its toll not just on our residents but municipal councillors and politicians in general. They have borne the brunt of the unhappiness and frustration of the public. The level of language, the level of tone is much different than it was pre-pandemic,” Letham said. “Some of the people who aren’t running that I have talked to have said I don’t need to do this. You try to do some community service and when they get the impression the community doesn’t appreciate it – they’ve decided that they’ve had enough. That’s the general answer I’m hearing. I’m not running not because of the pandemic but that’s the consistent message I’m hearing from other mayors across the region and the province. It’s been a rough couple of years for politicians. For the hours that are put in and the money that is paid for it, many are saying that it’s just not worth it.”

Peterborough Mayor Diane Therrien is not running again after one term in office. Kawartha 411 reached out to Therrien for her thoughts on why mayors are not seeking re-election. She had not responded as of publishing time. 

Cavan Monaghan Mayor Scott McFadden is not running this time around nor is J. Murray Jones, the Mayor of Douro Dummer Township and Janet Clarkson, Mayor of Trent Lakes. 

Letham said the tone of politics has changed in part because of the pandemic. He said we all have to learn to respect each other a little more. He said he agrees with the notion that just a decade ago, politics and for that matter journalism were considered noble and righteous professions. But with people like former U.S. President Donald Trump and those involved in the freedom truck convoy in Ottawa earlier this year the level of mistrust between those folks and the public, in general, is at an all-time high.

“I think Donald Trump has brought out an underlying distaste in people where respect for opinions has been lost. It is disappointing. An opinion is an opinion., It can’t be wrong because it is just an opinion. But we’ve lost our ability to voice our opinions because people are afraid of the backlash – particularly on social media,”: Letham said. “People get lambasted or blackballed merely for voicing an opinion. We’ve somewhat lost our ability to respect each other’s opinions.”

Hasmet Uluorta Courtesy Trent University

Kawartha 411 reached out to Dr Hasmet M. Uluorta who is the chair of the Department of Political Studies at Peterborough’s Trent University for his thoughts on why mayors are not re-running.

He agreed with much of what Letham had to say and said he could think of three issues that are at play on this issue including broad socio-political trends.

“My assumption is that Canada has entered a time of political fraying. Part of this is the longer term trends associated with increased (wealth) inequality and precarity associated with the lack of permanent employment opportunities, career opportunities, and ultimately incomes. The pandemic exasperated much of these already existing fissures in Canada. I assume that inflation will also lead to further entrenching of these political fissures. There is a great deal of resentment. Look no further than (Conservative Party leadership candidate) Pierre Poilievre’s campaign which seeks to tap into that people are losing faith in existing institutions and politics and politicians are not an exception to this trend. Interestingly, Poilevre seeks to gain from that — it’s the populist tale. That said, it is difficult to govern in spaces where inequality is intensifying,” Uluorta stated in an email.
“I assume the personal cost of public office is also greater now with social media and so forth requiring constant responses. If we take the tensions noted in the broad socio-political trends, it seems the costs for political participation have increased exponentially. This is a difficult ask for anyone and their families.” 

Uluorta added that if democracy is a practice, it seems we might be losing this practice. 

“There is a general malaise associated with democracy in general,” he said.

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John McFadden
John McFadden
After graduating from Fanshawe College in London, Ont. with a diploma in broadcast journalism John began his career right here in the Kawarthas at what was then called CKLY in Lindsay. From there John went to CHEX-TV and Wolf Radio in Peterborough as a TV and radio news and sportscaster and morning radio show co-host. John moved on to City-TV and CP24 in Toronto. He covered and reported on many important stories including the SARS outbreak. John then moved to the CBC in Toronto as a senior news writer and sports producer. Wanting a change of scenery John went to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories in 2012 where he earned seven National Community Newspaper Awards covering stories in Canada's Arctic while working for Northern News Services. He returned to Ontario in 2021 and has been writing news stories for Kawartha 411 since late 2021.

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