This is the fourth installment in a series of articles exploring each of the Region’s five mayoral races devoid of an incumbent candidate.
Still intent on leading Niagara’s next Regional Council following the cancellation of the chair race, Dave Augustyn will not seek a fourth term as mayor of Pelham. Instead, the longtime politician will challenge highly respected retired school Principal Brian Baty and two other candidates for the town’s regional councillor position (in an effort to remain eligible to head Niagara’s municipal government).
Augustyn’s ambitions have ensured Pelham will see a fresh face occupy the mayor’s chair for the first time since 2006.
Three candidates have stepped forward, eager to fill the void and succeed Augustyn: Gary Accursi, Marvin Junkin, and Carla Baxter.
Accursi, a retired dentist who has lived in Pelham for the last 45 years, is serving his second term on the town’s council.
First elected in 2010, Accursi brings a great deal of experience to the mayoral race. During his tenure, the Ward Two councillor sat, and currently sits, on a number of important committees, including: Pelham Library Board, Community Centre Oversight Committee, and the Summerfest Committee.
Accursi is running on a promise to stabilize and sustain Pelham moving into the future. Essentially, he wants the town to – at least over the next four years – rest on its laurels.
Looking to combat Accursi’s somewhat vanilla approach, Marvin Junkin is campaigning on change.
Junkin is a lifelong Pelham resident and local farmer. In 2014, Junkin was elected to town council. Though, after serving only three years he resigned his Ward One seat due to “serious ethical concerns [Junkin] had concerning the current council’s actions”.
According to the former councillor, Pelham has grossly mismanaged its finances under Augustyn and, as a result, Junkin said publicly that the town’s “reserves are empty” and there is “no money to fix” defective necessities, such as roads.
If elected mayor, Junkin will look to clear up Pelham’s alleged murky fiscal situation, be more transparent with taxpayers, and be frugal with municipal money.
Rounding out the list of hopeful candidates is Carla Baxter.
In line with Junkin, Baxter hopes to bring change to Pelham’s council chambers and is promoting greater financial responsibility and transparency.
Baxter has lived in Pelham since 1985. She worked as a border customs agent and tax auditor with Revenue Canada before opening a local business in the 1990s with her husband.
Unlike Accursi and Junkin, Baxter has never served on council.
Though, Baxter embraces the fact that she lacks any formal experience in politics and touts the slogan “A Fresh Perspective for the Town of Pelham”.
Pelham voters will decide whether they want change, continuity, or a mix of both when they hit the polls on October 22.