Meet Kelly Elliott, Councillor and Deputy Mayor Candidate. A strong and progressive voice for Thames Centre. Kelly shares, "It has been an honour to serve as Ward 1 Councillor in Thames Centre for the past four years. I look for your support to continue my work as Deputy Mayor."
Why did you decide to run?
My Grandpa, Nelson Elliott, was an incredible man and politician, and because of him I always wanted to get involved. I just thought I would do it when I at least managed to fit in the “old” part of the “old boys club”. In 2014, I took a chance and ran in the Municipality of Thames Centre's elections to represent my community as the Ward 1 Councillor. I knew that our community deserved a strong voice that would represent our growing community. Now that I have almost completed my first term of Council, I know how much we have accomplished, but I know how much we have to still complete.
What is your favourite thing to do in your community?
With two kids, I'm very active in my community. Both of my kids play hockey, as well as my son plays baseball and my daughter plays soccer. My favourite thing to do in my community is hanging out in our arena and parks watching our youth represent us! Bonus, I usually get to catch up some local questions and concerns happening from the other sports parents!
Tell us about the greatest challenges your community faces?
We are a rural community that often lacks the resources found in the urban areas. On top of that, these resources are often more expensive to provide in our rural areas, so we face the never-ending battle of ensuring we are providing services to our residents, all the while keeping property taxes in check. Another great challenge is welcoming and planning for growth while protecting our prime agricultural land.
What would you do to improve women's health in your community?
Public health services are currently not available in our communities, so I have already started opening the conversations with our local health unit of adding programming to the rural communities outside of our neighbouring city to allow greater access. Programs can include breastfeeding support programming, well baby checks, parenting classes, birth control clinics, STI testing clinics, etc. Without these programs in the community, women are having to travel anywhere from 30-45 minutes by car (no public transportation) to access these types of clinics and courses. Having them here would be a great asset.
What would you do to improve women's economic security in your community?
In rural areas, promoting farm-gate businesses is a huge economic boost for women. Having a municipality that supports farm-gate businesses that can be run as an ag or non-ag business provides the opportunities for women to open home businesses, and this is one project that I look forward to seeing done. Additionally, I am looking forward to opening the conversations with the province of Ontario to review the Provincial Policy Statement that would open up the ability for more business types to be allowed under the Planning Act for rural residential properties in prime agricultural areas that will allow more home-based businesses as well.
What would you do to improve women's safety in your community?
Again, in rural municipalities, it is expensive to provide some resources and we often have to share these resources with other communities. One of these is policing. I have recently re-established the Community Policing Committee in my community that allows community members direct access to the Ontario Provincial Police via an OPP constable on the committee as well. Here, we can address community concerns and develop plans on how to address these issues.