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Liberals announce Olthuis as candidate for Barrie-Innisfil

'The response so far has been wonderful and I think that a lot of people were waiting on someone to step up,' says retiree

The Ontario Liberal Party has announced its candidate in Barrie-Innisfil and it's a name some voters in the city may be familiar with.

John Olthuis, who has previously run for city council in Ward 10 in Barrie's south end, will fly the Liberal banner in the June 2 provincial election.

When reached by BarrieToday, the father of five admitted he is a little late to the race, but says he's already working hard to make up that time.

“We were out this morning at the South Barrie GO station meeting with people and getting the word out,” Olthuis said. ‘I’ll likely be out again this afternoon, but I had to come back and get some administration stuff out of the way like a website, getting signs ready and all that.

"It's been a very busy three days," he added. 

Olthuis said he was previously vetted by the party and it was made official to him on Sunday that he was the person they were going with.

Having worked at Alectra before retiring, Othuis said it was Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte (BSOM) Liberal candidate Jeff Lehman who suggested he run provincially.

“The response so far has been wonderful and I think that a lot of people were waiting on someone to step up,” Olthuis said. 

Olthuis lives in south Barrie and may be familiar with municipal voters in Ward 10. He entered the municipal race late as well, and with a small budget, but said he works well under pressure.

“I have a background in crisis communications, so I know I’m capable of stepping up to the plate and getting things done quickly," he said. "I am late to this race, but the goal now is name recognition and getting that out there.

“I have a background in social media, through my work at Alectra. During a big ice storm we had, the power was out for a while and we were able to turn to Twitter and continue to keep people informed, as well as working with the media on that," Olthuis added. 

Olthuis says he has heard from people that health care and finances are a top issue this provincial election, particularly with seniors. 

“These folks are struggling to keep their homes if they can, but also very worried about selling and having to transition to long-term care after seeing some of the issues that were exposed during this pandemic,” he said. “The Liberal Party is looking to improve long-term care and it appears the provincial government is trying to privatize it.”

Olthuis also touched on the housing crisis and the need for development.

“Where I live, Ward 10, is huge for development and the whole south end of Barrie is just expanding," he said. "The problem is the new builds are very expensive for people to even consider getting into them. We really need to look at affordable housing, maybe from a provincial aspect, maybe invest in social housing.”