After having been sworn in as mayor of the town of Kapuskasing, David Plourde said he is ready to put the campaign behind him and get to work.
“It was a long campaign and it felt like a long time from election night to being sworn in,” he commented. “I think at this point, everyone is just eager and anxious to get going.”
Plourde said rather than think of himself as in the position of power, he simply regards his role as being the captain of what he believes will be a strong team.
“I don’t believe in making unilateral decisions. I’ll be bringing everything to council,” he said. “I think the more involved you can make council, the better the council you’ll have.
“We’ve got the right people to take that approach and that’s not something we’ve always had. Sometimes you end up with a council that is just content to go along with whatever the mayor suggests. In this case, I believe we’ve got six workers at the table, six people who really want to put themselves out there and do the best they can for the community.
“It’s going to be different and I think it’s going to be a great experience to be the head of council during such an exciting time.”
Asked how much he believed his role would change in moving from a councillor’s seat to the mayor’s chair, Plourde said he didn’t think there were going to be any drastic differences.
“Aside from being the face of council and maybe being asked to speak on behalf of the town more often and to attend more functions, I plan to do pretty much the same things I was doing as a councillor,” he commented.
“In addition to assuming regular mayoral duties, I plan on participating fully, including exercising my vote on topics that come to council and aside from a little more travel than I had to do previously, I don’t think it will be all that different, especially if I use the councillors to their full potential.
“I don’t plan on being away all of the time. I think Kap needs a mayor who’s here and makes decisions here, and that’s what I intend to do. I want to be available to the people of Kapuskasing as much as possible.”
As far as the issues that will immediately face Kapuskasing’s new council, Plourde said the District Social Services Administration Board (DSSAB) issue is first and foremost on his mind.
“It’s the biggest issue we are currently facing,” he asserted. “The cost apportionment formula freeze runs out on January 17, 2019, so I think it’s important we focus on that issue immediately.”
Plourde said that next on the list is the CAT Scan machine proposal for Sensenbrenner Hospital, which he said seems to have stalled.
“We’re going to some conferences in January, where we’ll have the opportunity to seek delegation with the province,” he explained. “I want to find out where we are on this issue. I don’t understand how (the CAT Scan project) isn’t already happening.
“We have the money and it can be bought. I don’t understand what’s holding things up. The savings in urgent and non-urgent patient transfers, not to mention travel grants would more than justify the completion of the project here.
“Resolving this issue would also help resolve the DSSAB issue, because the major sticking point there has been the cost of non-urgent patient transfers. All we need from the Ministry is the OK to run the machine. It would cost about $300,000 per year to run the CAT Scan, but the cost of non-urgent transfers for CAT Scans is about $400,000 per year, so I’m not sure why this isn’t happening faster and I want to find out.”
With Plourde and councillor Martin Credger being the only returning members of council (albeit with Plourde in a different role), the new mayor said that he sees a number of advantages in having five fresh faces around the table.
“Fresh eyes, fresh ideas, a more youthful perspective… these are all great things to have at the table in my opinion,” he commented. “History is always important. We bring it forward and we learn from it, but having new perspectives is never a disadvantage.
“I’m excited. Each one of them is unique and brings different characteristics to the table. I think they see the opportunity to serve on council as enjoyable but at the same time they recognize the importance of their role. I think we’re well positioned to take Kapuskasing forward for the next four years.”