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Political newcomer sets sights on east-end council seat

'I am a small-time landlord, although I prefer the title of housing provider. I see myself as doing a good thing,' says Constance Elliott, who hopes to bring that experience to the council table

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. 

Constance Elliott may be a political newcomer in Ward 1, but she’s far from new to municipal politics. 

With a degree in political science, as well as diploma in municipal administration and a certificate in records and information management, the 37-year-old has worked in municipal government for more than a decade.

Currently working as a committee co-ordinator for a nearby municipality, Elliott told BarrieToday it was the issue of absentee landlords in her east-end ward that served as the impetus for her deciding to throw her hat in the ring.

“I am a small-time landlord, although I prefer the title of housing provider. I see myself as doing a good thing. I try to keep my units affordable and have good relationships with all my tenants,” she told BarrieToday. “Affordable housing is a big issue for me and a big interest of mine.”

The municipal election will take place Monday, Oct. 24. 

Elliott says she believes her combined experience as a landlord, her understanding of the Residential Tenancy Act, combined with knowing the many processes required in municipal government, will allow her to more effectively address the issue which has been impacting Ward 1 for several years.

“I think the way the council tried to address it initially with the business licensing bylaw they were going to approve, which is now on hold, was a waste of taxpayer dollars. Staff had recommended against it and they voted for it anyway,” she said. “When you don’t take the recommendations of staff and don’t listen to them, you’re wasting time and resources. You’re making staff run in circles when they could be investing their time doing other things, and that’s taxpayers' money.”

Elliott says 13 years of experience as a municipal worker will help her better navigate the challenges many newcomers to the council table often face.

“I’ve seen a lot of councillors come in thinking they’re going to change things and they have great ideas and great vision, but they don’t really understand the process. They think it’s councillors being lazy, staff being lazy or red tape, but there are processes that are there for a reason,” she said. “They’re there to be accountable and transparent.

"If you know the processes and how things work then things don’t take as long. My job as a committee co-ordinator is to help my committee members move things through the process. We move things through council and get those goals accomplished. I would be taking that skill set and using it for my constituents.”

Coun. Clare Riepma, the incumbent, is currently the only other confirmed candidate in Ward 1.

The nomination window for candidates closes on Friday, Aug. 19.