'Wainfleet is my priority'

By The Tribune

April Jeffs

April Jeffs

April Jeffs won’t be stepping down as mayor of Wainfleet before next year’s provincial election.

“Wainfleet is my priority … until the election I have an obligation to the community,” she said.

In March of this year, Jeffs announced she would be seeking the nomination as the Niagara Centre riding candidate for the provincial Progressive Conservative party. In April she was successful and will represent the party in the June 2018 election. She’ll be up against incumbent NDP MPP Cindy Forster. The provincial Liberal Party has yet to nominate a candidate for Niagara Centre, though former candidate Benoit Mercier has expressed interest in seeking the nomination.

Jeffs, serving her second term in the township, said if successfully elected she’d then resign as mayor.

If that happens, she said the township has options as to how to fill the position before the November 2018 municipal elections, including having the deputy mayor at the time fill the role.

“I think it’s a bit premature right now … it’s really only a question of what happens if you win,” she said.

As to splitting her time between her duties as mayor and as a candidate, Jeffs said it’s not an issue.

“It’s very manageable. I think people have to remember that I am a part-time mayor, I’m only in the office eight hours per week and beyond that, I am on various committees at the region. I also attend many events as mayor and regional councillor.”

While she spends Mondays in township hall and pops in throughout the week to meet face-to-face with staff or residents, Jeffs is only a phone or email away.

“I’m available all the time when I am not in the office,” she said.

Even as she’s out knocking on doors in the riding, which takes in Port Colborne, Welland, Thorold and south St. Catharines, Jeffs said she and Lee Gudgeon, in charge of Wainfleet’s communications, health and safety, and human resources, are busy in the township.

The pair is out every week visiting local businesses, talking about their needs and how Wainfleet and the Niagara Region can help them. The visits were started a number of years back with Jeffs and former CAO Scott Luey heading up the initiative.