JOHN ROBBINS/Bullet News
NIAGARA FALLS – The race to replace Niagara Falls Liberal MPP Kim Craitor, who resigned his seat in the Legislature unexpectedly on Tuesday, looks like it’s already underway.
Niagara Falls city Coun. Carolynn Ioannoni tells Bullet News she is “seriously considering” seeking the nomination to represent the governing party in a byelection or general election – whichever comes first.
“I’m seriously considering it,” said Ioannoni. “The reality is we need a representative.”
Ioannoni, who praised Craitor for his years of service and work on behalf of constituents, said she has often thought about entering provincial politics, but would not have challenged Craitor for the nomination had he not resigned.
“Every election, people approach you (about running) … but I’m a firm believer you don’t run against friends,” said Ioannoni.
“I really believe I could represent the people here on their positions.”
Ioannoni has been a member of Niagara Falls city council for 13 years. During that time she has served on numerous committees, while at the same time maintaining volunteer commitments in the community.
Craitor, who served as MPP since 2003, had over the years gained a reputation as somewhat of a maverick, who while believing strongly in Liberal principles wasn’t afraid of challenging the party when he believed party policy was at odds with the wishes of his constituents.
Ioannoni said residents of the riding could expect the same from her, if they see fit to send her to Queen’s Park.
“If my party makes a mistake, you’ll know about,” said Ioannoni.
Ioannoni said she recognizes the Ontario Liberals, who have been in power for a decade, have work to do to restore trust among voters.
Still, she believes this is an “exciting time” in provincial politics, with the selection of Kathleen Wynne as Liberal leader and the province’s first female premier.
Wynne issued a statement Tuesday afternoon in response to Craitor’s decision to step down from his post immediately.
Premier Kathleen Wynne issued a statement around the same time as the media release from Craitor’s office was sent.
“Kim was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 2003 and has a long history of public service in his community,” Wynne wrote.
“Over the last 10 years, he has served as Parliamentary Assistant in various portfolios, including Community and Social Services, Energy and Infrastructure, Tourism and Culture, and Community Safety and Correctional Services.
Wynne continued: “I thank him for his service and wish him luck in his future endeavours.”
Wynne promised a byelection will be called within six months.
A byelection won’t happen if a general election is called first.
The Liberals hold only a minority of the seats in the Legislature. Their fate is in the hands of the opposition Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats.
Wynne herself could choose to seek a mandate of her own by taking the province to the polls at any time.
Most pundits believe an election is unlikely this fall, but almost inevitable this coming spring.
The only nominated candidate in the Niagara Falls riding is former PC MPP Bart Maves, a regional councillor, who handily won the Tory nomination here in January.
The NDP have not selected a candidate.
The NDP was represented in the last provincial election in 2011 by former Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekop, who placed a strong third behind Craitor and PC candidate George Lepp, a Niagara-on-the-Lake businessman.
The Niagara Falls riding includes the communities of Niagara Falls, Fort Erie and Niagara-on-the-Lake.
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