Sara McCleary, a local freelance journalist, has announced she will seek the NDP’s nomination to run for the party in the Sault Ste. Marie riding in the soon to be called provincial election campaign.
She clearly states she identifies with Saultites facing challenging times.
“I’ve experienced the world of precarious employment in the Sault. I struggle to afford childcare and hydro bills and groceries. I'm ready and able to fight for actual practical changes that will impact the life of the average Joe in Sault Ste. Marie,” McCleary wrote in an email to SooToday Monday.
“When the NDP contacted me asking if I would be interested in running for the nomination, I had to give it some thought. I had been planning to run for city council this fall, but hadn't previously thought about getting involved in provincial politics. But I ultimately decided that the Sault needs someone who understands what the city and its residents really need. Saultites have too long been putting their trust in politicians who make over $100,000 a year and don't remember or know what life is like for the average resident of Sault Ste. Marie.”
“Because so many Saultites are living in low income families and working multiple part-time or contract jobs that offer no medical or dental benefits, one of my primary focuses will be on providing drug and dental coverage to everyone,” McCleary stated.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath called for universal access to drug coverage and dental care Mar. 27.
“Too many adults and seniors have to go without their medications because they just can't afford it. I'm going to fight to make sure that no Saultite has to choose between food and medication or dental care,” McCleary wrote.
Hydro costs were a key topic in the Sault during the 2017 byelection campaign.
“People in Sault Ste. Marie are paying too much for their hydro because of (Premier Kathleen) Wynne's decision to privatize Hydro One. Again, when your income is limited or fixed, those increases on your hydro bill can mean the difference between offering your family healthy meals and having to eat noodles four times a week. I'll make sure living in Sault Ste. Marie returns to an affordable level by helping to reverse the privatization of Hydro One, not by resorting to the bullying tactics some leaders plan to use, but by promoting our party's fully-laid-out plan to do so,” McCleary indicated.
In addition, as many small business owners have said, one of the many challenges to their ability to operate is the boost in minimum wage.
“I’m going to support small business and innovation in Sault Ste. Marie,” McCleary wrote.
“The minimum wage has increased, which is fantastic for workers living off the minimum wage, but I've heard from many local small business owners that it's been hard on them. So I'll support workers and the planned increase to a $15 minimum wage, but I'll also support local small businesses by promoting the NDP's plan to overhaul the province's business support programs.”
“The backbone of a city is its small businesses, and Wynne has shown that she's forgotten that by the way she handled businesses responses to the minimum wage increase. Without locally-owned businesses, the Sault would not only lose what makes it unique, its economy would falter. I'll make sure that doesn't happen,” McCleary stated.
Also high on McCleary’s list of concerns are healthcare, mental health care and eliminating student debt.
“I grew up in Sault Ste Marie the daughter of small-business owners. As I got older, I saw my parents age faster than they should have as they worried about their future and that of their business. Ultimately, they had to shut the doors, and at the age of 60 my Dad had to start over again, looking for a job for the first time in 30 years,” McCleary shared.
“I was determined not to have the same future, so I took on thousands of dollars in student debt to earn an undergraduate degree at Algoma University, then was awarded a prestigious scholarship to earn a master's degree at Queen's University in Kingston. I returned to the Sault, planning to get full-time employment and contribute to the city's wellbeing, but instead all I could find were part-time jobs, mostly in fast-food and retail.”
“I ultimately ended up managing a fast-food restaurant before leaving it to focus full-time on writing, finally returning to Sault This Week as a reporter and columnist (I had written occasionally for Sault This Week during my undergrad),” McCleary wrote.
McCleary also volunteers with Refugee705 and began her own nonprofit named We've Got This, which is aimed at eliminating the stigma surrounding addictions and mental illness in Sault Ste. Marie.
It is believed at least one other individual will seek the NDP’s nomination in Sault Ste. Marie.
The party’s nomination meeting for the Sault Ste. Marie riding will take place Apr. 26 at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.
Local Liberals are preparing for a nomination meeting soon.
Kara Flannigan was officially announced as the Green Party’s Sault candidate Apr. 12.
Sault MPP Ross Romano has already received the official nod from the Progressive Conservatives to run for reelection.
The provincial election will be held on or before June 7.