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'An honour to run': Nigussie makes history in Ward 6

'For those who have doubts about Canadian democracy, I believe yesterday was the answer,' says Nigussie, believed to be first Black man to serve on Barrie city council

Nigussie Nigussie may have made history last night, but he was more focused on the job ahead and says he can’t wait to serve his community.

He won Monday’s Ward 6 election with 1,036 votes, beating second-place Sharon Doran (884) by 152 votes. Kevin LePage (823), Allan Bray (666) and Darryl Duff (41) rounded out the race in the city's southwest ward.

Nigussie says he thinks people wanted change in this year’s city election.

“I believe this will be a fun but productive council, and I am excited to bring the change the city wants to see,” Nigussie told BarrieToday on Tuesday morning.

“There are a lot of things this council needs to work on," he added. "I have been hearing a lot about the need for more community safety, taxes are a big concern for our citizens and I do believe this council will get to work and get things done.”

There has been talk for many years about the lack of diversity on Barrie city council, but the Ethiopia-born Nigussie bucked that trend on Monday night. He is believed to be the first Black man elected to Barrie city council, something he says he's very proud to have achieved. 

"For those who have doubts about Canadian democracy, I believe yesterday was the answer," he said. 

Nigussie came to Canada in 2008 as a political refugee from Ethiopia, where he was a freelance journalist and author. After originally settling in Regina, Sask., he says he was drawn to Barrie eight years ago after seeing the community-driven people in the city.

Nigussie also said he was happy with how he ran his campaign.

“It was an honour to run with the other candidates who were also looking to serve," added the father of two young children, who also thanked his wife and family for their ongoing support.

He says he thinks of them as he begins his political life.

“I always worry about my kids' future and well-being and how decisions affect them,” Nigussie said. “But I obviously consider my community and how I can better serve them.

"We have a great city and this ward is a wonderful community. I will serve them to the best of my ability."

The inaugural meeting of city council is scheduled for Nov. 16, 2022, beginning at 7 p.m.