By-election: Cathy Burghardt Jesson, Liberal

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Why are you running to represent the riding of L-K-M?

I am running to represent L-K-M in Queen’s Park because I love my community and what I do as the mayor of Lucan Biddulph and as the former warden of Middlesex County.

It is an honour to take this next step and run in this provincial by-election so that I can continue to be of service to a larger region.

I am proud of who we are, and I know the challenges local municipalities face, and how to get more value for all of us from our biggest partner, the provincial government.

I know that residents do not feel represented by this government. My track record shows that I do the hard work of representing the voices of our community. That is why I am running as your Ontario Liberal candidate.

What are the biggest issues facing the riding?

The increasing costs the Ontario provincial government is downloading onto municipalities is a serious issue that worries me. Municipal governments have a handful of tools to take on service deficits and delivery, but the province has far greater means to help rural communities, and I think they should.

Not just in LKM, but right across the province, we have ageing infrastructure, coupled with the demands of creating more housing, we are seeing a lack of meaningful investment in infrastructure in L-K-M.

I am increasingly frustrated that Premier Ford and his Progressive Conservative government haven’t been more proactive, and instead seem content with letting us foot the bill for their programs, and as a result, municipalities must decide to increase property taxes or claw back services.

These concerns are echoed by many colleagues from rural Ontario. Rural communities in L-K-M need guarantees from the province for greater access to local health-care and education funding.

Do you feel rural Ontario is getting overlooked? If elected, what if any steps will you take to remedy that?

L-K-M has growing, changing communities throughout, and we are not the same communities as we once were. We have environmental and agricultural heritage that must be protected. Residents are concerned that their future is in jeopardy from urban sprawl, limited access to health care or education, and possible contamination of drinking water sources such as in Dresden with the recent landfill expansion proposal.

We have the same demands as larger urban centres, ageing infrastructure, and stressed health care. The Progressive Conservative government needs to know that rural Ontarians won’t keep Premier Doug Ford in power if he’s going to keep ignoring rural Ontarians. We can no longer afford the pressures of the silent downloading that is happening. L-K-M isn’t Etobicoke or any municipality in the GTA, but we matter just as much as any Ontario urban centre. 

What are your goals as a Member of Provincial Parliament?

As your Member of Provincial Parliament in the legislature, my first order of business would be to meet with leaders from across L-K-M – elected, business, etc. – and hear firsthand what they are missing from this government and I would advocate for those needs.

I would build relationships in Queen’s Park, and work to provide the level of service residents of L-K-M expect from an elected public representative. 

My track record in L-K-M speaks for itself. I can, and I do, work with everyone, and with the Ontario Liberal party and Bonnie Crombie as our leader, we will get what matters done for you.

Please share some personal details about yourself.

I am a married mother of four adult sons and an avid baker and gardener in my spare time. I can’t wait for spring. I’m also a pandemic pup mom and I enjoy swimming, walking and yoga.

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