Meet the candidates, C-K–L

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Clockwise from top left, Audrey Festeryga; Liberal, Trevor Jones, PC; Rhonda Jubenville, New Blue Party; Rick Nicholls, Ontario Party (Incumbent); and Brock McGregor, NDP.

 Editor’s note: The Chatham Voice asked each candidate to submit a short bio and to comment on what they believe is the most important issue this election for the people of Chatham-Kent. Here’s what we received for the candidates of Chatham-Kent–Leamington.

Audrey Festeryga, Liberal

A first-generation Canadian, I was born in Leamington and raised on a family farm near Wheatley.

Following elementary and secondary school in the riding, I graduated with distinction from McMaster University and then Queen’s University Law School.

A mother of two, I am a lifelong member of the Leamington Oak Street Mennonite Church.

In addition to being a lawyer in Leamington, I own and operate a farm in the riding with my brother, Martin Rahn.

Growing up in rural poverty as a youth and having defeated cancer as an adult, I have overcome adversity with faith and hard work.

Most pressing issue: At the door, and on the streets of Chatham Kent, residents indicate that the cost of living is the most pressing issue. The Liberals have a fully costed plan that will grow the economy and create an Ontario that people can afford to live in while still balancing the Budget by 2026-27.

For me, the primary issue is that for far too long Chatham-Kent has been neglected, and I’m here to change that.

My NDP opponent, who is on municipal council, and the incumbent MPP have had years to obtain much-needed federal and provincial investment for Chatham-Kent; they have failed to do so.

Trevor Jones, PC

Trevor Jones was born and raised in Leamington. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History in 1997 and his Master of Arts in 2001 from the University of Windsor.

In 2002, he became a constable with the Ontario Provincial Police, working in both the Chatham-Kent and Essex County detachments before being promoted to sergeant in 2009. After 16 years of honourable service in law enforcement, Jones joined Mastronardi Produce Limited in Essex County as Director of Procurement and then Senior Director of Emerging Operations.

Jones and his wife Najet have three children, and they reside in Leamington.

Rhonda Jubenville, New Blue Party

Born and raised in Chatham, Rhonda Jubenville learned the fundamentals of running a business at a young age by being part of her family’s local 43-year-old building supply/lumber yard. She knows what it takes to operate a successful, grassroots business from the ground up.

Jubenville has two adult children and has been active in her community for many years. From serving in various positions with the Catholic Church she attends, to serving on the Chatham Figure Skating Club’s board for 14 years, she loves serving the people in her community.

Jubenville has observed the slow decline in our province and was frustrated by how the pandemic highlighted the state of our health care, long-term care, education and small businesses. The mishandling of these essential services and ministries inspired Rhonda to step out and make a difference for the people of Chatham-Kent–Leamington.

Most pressing issue: The New Blue Party of Ontario will fight for the residents of Chatham-Kent–Leamington to restore our province both financially and socially.  We will grow Ontario’s economy at five per cent annually by taking down industrial wind turbines, which have now proven to be a colossal economic failure along with harming human life and wildlife.  This will reduce electricity rates and save Ontarians $750 million to $1 billion annually.

We will provide tax relief with a three-per-cent cut in the HST.

We will remove all divisive and “heavy” teachings like critical race theory, gender identity theory and the existing sex education from the public schools and replace with age-appropriate teachings involving respect, acceptance, tolerance and kindness to all.

Brock McGregor, NDP

Brock McGregor was born and raised in Chatham-Kent and calls the community home with his wife and four children.

During two terms on municipal council, McGregor has advocated for smart growth, investments in community infrastructure, and support of the vulnerable. He introduced tougher regulations on payday lenders, and fought to build a more equitable community.

McGregor was instrumental in bringing the first rainbow crosswalk to Chatham-Kent, updated regulation on puppy-mill prevention strategies, and has been a vocal advocate for harm reduction in the community.

McGregor was an executive board member of the 2018 International Plowing Match, and is the long-serving president of the board for Rise House International, a charity operating a women’s safe haven in Haiti.

Most pressing issue: Affordability. Housing, fuel, groceries – prices are rising and its getting more difficult to keep up in Ontario. While the other guys take the side of big grocery, big oil, and big developers, we put people over profit. We will bring in rent control legislation, regulate fuel prices, and decrease auto insurance rates by 40 per cent. We will spur new home development, and penalize speculators. You shouldn’t have to decide between heat or a visit to the dentist, or paying the mortgage and getting mental health services. Those are choices of a broken system. We can fix what’s broken.

Rick Nicholls, Ontario Party (Incumbent)

Rick Nicholls has been serving the riding of Chatham Kent Leamington for 11 years.

He is married to Dianne, has three children and five grandchildren.

He served for 10 years with the PC Caucus and last August was removed because he personally believes in freedom of choice.

He now serves as the Deputy Leader of a true conservative party, the Ontario Party whose foundational pillars include truth, transparency, faith, family, freedom and fiscal responsibility.

He has unintentionally become the voice of millions throughout Ontario, Canada, and other countries because he has stood up against the mandates.

Most pressing issue: Affordable housing and cost of living are the issues that are of most concern at this time in our riding.

The Ontario Party will introduce urban planning reform to adjust single family zoning in Ontario’s most housing-deprived areas. Property owners will be given more freedom to construct two- and four-unit residential buildings amidst neighbourhoods traditionally reserved for single-family homes.

We will establish an Ontario-focused foreign purchasing ban on residential homes.

Jennifer Suerus, Green Party

Did not respond by press time.

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