Hot damn, Chelsea has a race!
Fraser, Guénard face off for mayor
After 12 years with Caryl Green, Chelsea will have a new mayor this November. But it almost wasn’t a race.
On the morning of the Oct. 1 deadline day, Chelsea Ward 2 councillor Pierre Guénard was running for mayor uncontested. But in that eleventh hour, political newcomer Shelley Fraser threw her name in the hat.
“We’re all talking about a lot of important issues and I thought it was really important to have two names on the ballot,” Fraser told The Low Down when asked why she’s running.
When we asked Guénard that same question, he said that he wants to continue the work he started as councillor and provide leadership to the new councillors.
In terms of qualifications, Guénard has eight years representing Old Chelsea and Meech Lake on council under his belt; he served as president of the recreation and natural resource committees; he also served as deputy mayor; and he sat on the Chelsea Foundation board.
For Fraser, it’s her first foray into the political game.
The central Chelsea resident and tech executive helped found the cloud, data, and artificial intelligence company Lixar, providing her with plenty of leadership and entrepreneurial experience; she has worked for the federal departments of foreign affairs, finance, and industry; she is a former president of the Chelsea Phoenix Field Hockey Club; and – according to her – most importantly she’s a good listener.
“For me it’s really simple,” Fraser said when asked about her campaign strategy: visits with people over coffee or around campfires.
She said she’s willing to meet with people and small groups to listen to what they want in a mayor and what’s important to them.
Her campaign website with her contact information will go live later this week.
Guénard already hit the campaign trail this past weekend by getting out in the community. Elections Québec discourages door-to-door campaigning because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but he said he has already started reaching out to community groups and associations. He encouraged people to reach out to him through his Facebook page “Pour Maire Pierre Guenard” or use his contact information that is posted on chelsea.ca.
When asked what his priorities would be if elected, Guénard said protecting biodiversity, more connections along the bike and walking trail network throughout Chelsea, and managing commercial and housing development responsibly.
When posed with the same question, Fraser said her priority is the health and sustainability of the community. She said that housing, particularly senior housing, is something that deserves public conversation followed by municipal action.
Guénard is fully bilingual and supported Chelsea’s recent bilingual municipality declaration. Fraser said that she’s learning French.
“My French? I’m working on it. Some people would say that I’m not French and I would not differ with that,” she said.
Concerning the race itself, the question is: can a municipal politics newcomer dethrone an established name on council for the mayor’s seat in Chelsea like Lamoureux did to Robert Bussière in La Pêche in 2017?
It worked for La Pêche Mayor Guillaume Lamoureux four years ago. Only time will tell.