BLR ratepayers meet their candidates

PALMER RAPIDS – Eleven of the 13 candidates in Brudenell-Lyndoch-Raglan Township attended the all candidates event in Palmer Rapids on October 2. 
David Henstock and Bill Schweig, both from Madawaska Valley Township, acted as moderators of the evening. 
All councillor candidates were present, with the exception of Jason O’Brien. Two of the three mayoral candidates attended, including Garry Gruntz and Michael McCloskey. Incumbent Reeve Norman Lentz was absent.
However, his wife Kim was permitted to give a speech in his place.
“I am not putting my husband through this,” she said. “He has given so much to the community and he has been bashed.”
She then provided a copy of Norman’s expense sheet.
“He has been honest,” she said. “I am not putting him through this because we don’t need this aggravation.”
Following the opening speeches from each candidate, questions were taken from the audience members, submitted in advance to the moderators. 
The Gazette is featuring the answers from three of the eight questions from that evening. 

Each candidate was asked to address their individual plans to help the youth in the BLR community.
Tracy Edmonson-Somes, running in Ward One, said this is her specialty because she has three children of her own.
“I feel that we can tap into resources that are offered by the county, for one, and provincially,” she explained. “I was instrumental in bringing healthy community grants to this community.”
Through that funding, she said she was able to bring a summer camp to the area for children.
 “I am not happy about the doors on our facilities being closed,” she said. “That’s definitely something that needs to change. We have kids that have no place to gather.”
T.J. Thompson, running in Ward Two, also has a young family and admitted there isn’t much for them in the township.
“We need people here to keep things running,” he said. “We need to utilize our youth that way. Give them a plan for the future; give a reason to stay.”
Mayoral candidate Garry Gruntz admitted the Palmer Rapids community hall is a great facility and more programming is needed.
Gruntz said he spoke to the Renfrew County Health Unit, who applied for a Trillium Grant, which could help the township expand recreational programming.
“It’s time we build on the community’s ideas and what the community wants to do,” he said. 
Sheldon Keller, running in Ward Two, has three young children of his own, and said he would like to see the continuation of the swim program.
Keller added that he would be open to suggestions from parents to improve recreational programming.
Ward One candidate John Rutledge admitted the township needs more youth, considering more than half of the population are seniors. 
He would like to see more volunteers in the township and said he is open to ideas from the community on how to enhance recreational opportunities. 
Ward One candidate Richard Voldock said he would also like to see the continuation of the swim program and added that there need to be more baseball diamonds in the township. 
Mayoral candidate Michael McCloskey said the majority of the problem is going to be solved by chasing down outside money for programming. 
“It is there,” McCloskey said. “The simple fact is we have to be leaning into it and putting in grant applications and participating fully in the outside money.”
Ward One candidate Iris Kauffeldt, a former bus driver for 19 years, said she has a great relationship with the community’s youth.
“I think we need more parent volunteers,” she said. “In the past, it seemed to be more parents involved.”



Get your October 8, 2014 edition of The Valley Gazette to read more of this story.