Politics trump household ties in Port Colborne mayoral race

A battle is brewing on the shores of Lake Erie, and oh brother, it’s a doozy.

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Port Colborne Mayor Invoice Steele wasn’t certain what to anticipate because the date neared to register for the Oct. 24 election. After 17 years on metropolis council and one time period as mayor, he thought for certain he’d have challengers.

“No person got here ahead,” he says. “So we checked out acclamation, however then we had a candidate throw his title in on the final minute. So right here we’re in election mode.”

However when he noticed the title of his opponent listed as “Charles Steele,” he was initially confused. He has a brother named Charles David William Steele, however says, “his title isn’t Charles. It’s David. He’s at all times been often called David. It’s David Steele.”

Additional to that, the brothers hadn’t spoken in over 30 years and “David” had by no means run for public workplace earlier than. However it wasn’t lengthy earlier than it was confirmed Port Colborne would have a entrance seat to a decades-old familial spat. And the title factor?

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“I’ve been advised you must use your first title in enterprise and necessary issues,” Charles Steele says. “So I exploit the title Charles. It’s so simple as that.”

Painting of United Empire Loyalists arriving in Canada to find land they can farm.

United Empire Loyalists arrive in Canada.

Library and Archives Canada

Port Colborne is a metropolis of 20,000 greatest often called one of many gateways to the famed Welland Canal, which connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario for the roughly 3,000 ships that move via it yearly. The development of the primary iteration of the canal within the 1830s introduced with it a rise in inhabitants, which ultimately led to the village of Port Colborne being included in 1870.

However the first non-native settlers have been United Empire Loyalists who arrived after fleeing the U.S. civil warfare within the 1770s. And the pinnacle of one of many first two loyalist households to place down roots was named William Steele, the ancestor of Invoice and Charles.

Including to the Steele legacy, their nice uncle Dewitt Carter was mayor in 1918 and their nice grandfather C.S. Steele served as mayor in 1927.

Old black and white photo of houses on the shore of Lake Erie

Port Colborne circa 1911.

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It’s unclear what led to the brothers shedding contact all these years in the past. Whereas Invoice stayed in Port Colborne to run the household insurance coverage enterprise, Charles moved to Toronto for quite a lot of years earlier than returning 15 years in the past.

“The one factor I’ll say is he’s made some unhealthy choices in his life,” Invoice says. “He’s alienated his household and that’s the place we’re in the present day.”

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Charles provides, “We simply have completely different viewpoints on politics and life and issues like that.”

Charles Steele

Charles Steele.

World Information

They nonetheless have but to talk and neither has plans to name the opposite throughout the marketing campaign. The one means communication between the 2 may occur is in a debate. And whereas each are open to the chance, Charles acknowledges he’s the clear underdog with far much less expertise.

Sure, I’d take into account a debate,” Charles says. “He does have the 20 years expertise. He is aware of what it’s wish to run a council, so I’d be at a little bit of a drawback there. However I really feel that I’ve sufficient points to get folks out to vote and hopefully I can change their lives for the higher.”

Charles says he plans on operating a grassroots marketing campaign with most of his time dedicated to knocking on doorways. He says he can’t afford an costly promoting marketing campaign. To succeed, he believes he wants to attach with voters who suppose town wants a brand new path.

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Invoice, in the meantime, is proud that town’s downtown core has remained vibrant whereas different similar-sized cities endure via high-vacancy charges. Inexpensive housing is a precedence, as is getting the sewer and water charges below management. And he says whereas it’s not the job of the mayor and council to carry new docs to the world, he’s made it a precedence as effectively.

“We’ve been fortunate,” Invoice says. “We’ve recruited three new docs to Port Colburne within the final yr and a half, creating extra providers at our native hospital, which is an pressing care centre. It’s not a full-fledged hospital anymore prefer it was once when it was inbuilt 1959.”

And all these points might be mentioned because the election marketing campaign unfolds — however nothing might be as curious to voters as Port Colburne’s battle of non-brotherly love.

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