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'Fascinated' by politics, Webb joins council race in Ward 8

'I get asked almost every election if I would be willing to run and normally haven’t been able to, and this time was different,' says Ward 8 candidate John Webb
John Webb is a candidate for city council in Ward 8.

Editor's note: BarrieToday is running profile stories on candidates for city council in each of the city's 10 wards in the coming weeks. For more election coverage, visit our 2022 municipal election page by clicking here, where you can also find mayoral profiles and other election news. 

Local politics have been a long time coming to John Webb.

“I’ve actually had an interest in politics since I was in Grade 4 and did a school project, and literally have never lost the bug, if you would,” the Ward 8 candidate told BarrieToday. “It has always fascinated me, always interested me.”

Webb, 47, and his wife own the Creative Cafe, the paint-your-own-pottery art studio in south Barrie, but he has a little experience  six years on Tourism Barrie’s board of directors and 12 years on Severn Township’s committee of adjustment.

“I have always had a finger in the pie,” said Webb, who has run for office twice in other municipalities. “I get asked almost every election if I would be willing to run and normally haven’t been able to, and this time was different. This year, I really felt a need that I had to run.”

His priorities include roads, infrastructure and the need for what Webb calls smart growth.

“Smart as in… specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely goals,” he said.

And Webb says affordability is key with everyone right now, as it was before COVID hit and made it even worse.

“We live here, let’s work here. Commuting is getting even more expensive, gas is getting out of control, but there’s so many reasons to live here and work here,” he said. “We’ve got great facilities that are only getting better. We’ve got to get housing more affordable and there are ways to do that.

“When people are looking at a hydro bill versus food versus rent versus mortgage, we’ve got to make sure the last thing you think is, 'Am I getting a good bang for my tax dollar buck’. They should know that, they should see that.”

But it wasn’t necessarily these matters which put Webb on the political campaign trail.

“What I think really has done it for me is the lack of focus,” he said of city council. “There has not been a focus on the day-to-day running of the city, and we need to get back to that. The last four years we haven’t been focused on that, we’ve been worried about other things and in the meantime, time goes by. And that’s not something we can afford to do.”

Webb did not give examples of which city services require better focus.

“Everybody comes out and makes promises, it doesn’t matter who you are,” he said. “They all make promises and I get it, it’s the game, it’s how you do it. But if you had four years to do it, why haven’t you done it?”

In Barrie for more than 20 years and a business owner for 16 years, Webb says he would bring fiscal understanding and management skills to the council table.

“Everything a business owner has, you bring to it. The ability to shift, to focus,” he said. “I’m a team player who can work with the other members of the city council to get things done. I bring passion, drive. 

“I’ve always wanted to do this, I’ve chosen to do this from the start. It wasn’t an afterthought. I’d like to bring us back to the business of the city. We owe the residents of Barrie to get back to running the city and that’s not just one thing, that’s everything,” Webb added. 

“First and foremost we’ve got to work together as a council. We’ve got to do what we’ve been ‘hired’ to do.”

Webb’s current competition in Ward 8 is incumbent Jim Harris.

The nomination period for candidates closes Aug. 19, with the city election to follow Oct. 24.