City council election off and running

Cathy Dobson

The days leading up to the Oct. 27 municipal vote in Sarnia promise to be anything but lackluster.

The four-way race for the mayor’s seat may seem a bit predictable, with Mike Bradley seeking another four-year term. But he is challenged by some opponents who may add value to the campaign, including local lawyer James Carpeneto, retired Polysar worker Fred Ingham and Jake Cherski, owner of a local sandwich shop Philly Cheese Jakes.

Cherski is widely known locally for his involvement with the Sarnia Imperials Football Club and leader of the infamous PollenNation, a rowdy fan group at Sarnia Sting home games.

If boosterism is what Sarnians want, Cherski might capture some votes.

There appears to be no apathy when it comes to jumping into the political ring. By the time candidate registration closed last Friday, 32 people had put their names forward, far more than the 23 candidates in 2010.

Jon McEachran is the only incumbent not seeking re-election.

The vast roster ranges from an ice cream maker, a hairdresser and a newsman to the owner of a local strip club.

Peter Athanasopoulos, a married father of seven grown children, has owned the Riverport Tavern in downtown Sarnia since 1978.

“Sarnia is a family town and I hate the fact that no youth stay here,” he said. Athanasopoulos, who also owns the Christina Street property where the former Woody’s bar operated, said he doesn’t believe voters will be turned off by the fact he owns a strip club.

“Have you heard of any problems there? No. It’s very quiet,” he said. “I am a businessman who wants to raise my voice because we have too many taxes and this city needs better leadership.”

The election guarantees new faces will occupy at least two council positions, because the only incumbents vying for the four city-only seats are Terry Burrell and Mike Kelch.

In Sarnia, four of the eight council members represent the city on Lambton County council. Eight, including five incumbents, are contending those four seats.

This election also features numerous political veterans who have either held office before or attempted to.

The NDP’s Brian White has run for every level of government and, while popular, White has yet to win an election.

Bryan Trothen, Darren Nesbit and James Grant have tried to land a council seat before, and come close.

Joe Hill, another NDP organizer, has run unsuccessfully for the school board and is hoping for a city/county seat this time.

And retired businessman John Vollmar – a perennial voice for fiscal restraint and tax reductions – sat on city council before and lost a bid to become mayor in 2010.

For a full list of who is running, visit www.sarnia.ca and click on Vote 2014. Scroll down to “Find Out Who’s Running” and click again.

In the weeks ahead, The Sarnia Journal will provide full election coverage, including Sarnia mayoral profiles, the races in Point Edward and St. Clair Townships, and local school trustee positions.