Race for mayor in Belleville ramping up ahead of election

Mayoral race in Belleville ramping up with three candidates challenging incumbent Taso Christopher for his seat.

It’s going to be a race to the finish for candidates running for Belleville mayor. Incumbent Mayor Taso Christopher has three others running for his seat, all with a range of experience sitting on Belleville’s city council.

Egerton Boyce has been with the city for 15 years and believes he has the experience needed to drive the city into the future.

“What’s important for the city of Belleville is a long-term strategic plan,” Boyce says. “Rather than a one or two-year goal, we need to have a vision for what we want the city to be in the future.”

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All four candidates have helped with a number of initiatives on the city council.

Jodie Jenkins represented constituents between 2010 and 2014. He says he saw a problem with the way things were being done over the past term. Jenkins claims during his campaign, one message that’s been heard repeatedly is that people want a change from the status quo.

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“Many people at the doors have not been happy with the pettiness around that table and frankly, I’m the only one that represents true change, with experience,” Jenkins says.

Christopher has led council for one term and worked as a councillor beforehand. Maintaining growth and identifying a number of infrastructure projects throughout his time on council, Christopher says it’s important for him to continue his work on several projects.

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“We should continue the momentum we have and encourage waterfront development and encourage regional transit,” Christopher says.

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Although his contenders claim change is needed, Christopher says it was his leadership that helped bring more development to the friendly city.

“We did some pretty bold things, again from investing in infrastructure and we’re getting the return.”

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Restaurateur Mitch Panciuk has been on council for one term and been a businessman in the city of Belleville for more than 17 years. In his time as councillor, Panciuk says he has also been proactive in bringing forward ideas that will help residents.

“I focused on improving technology. I am very much pro-development. We need to have more houses, more commercial establishments.

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A controversial issue that sticks out for all candidates running for the mayor’s seat is when incumbent Christopher was found to be in a conflict of interest. This was due to a vote in budget deliberations.

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“It was a real important issue for residents,” says mayoral candidate Panciuk. “They didn’t appreciate the fact that we did that, or they didn’t appreciate there was a lack of an apology for that.”

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Christopher says he has learned from the mistake — but maintains at no point was there any ill-will intended.

“The judge ruled it was strictly an error in judgment. There was no ill feeling, no malice. There was no attack or intent to abuse the office or the municipality.”

The municipal election is on Oct. 22.