Irek Kusmierczyk looking forward to tackling city issues

Irek Kusmierczyk is ready to tackle issues in his new ward.

New city councillor speaks to CBC News about his plans for Ward 7

Irek Kusmierczyk wants more young people under 40 engaged in municipal politics. (CBC News )

Windsor's newest councillor has big plans for his ward.

"In the short term, I talked to a lot of people about the Banwell, Blue Heron area, especially those on Radcliffe Rd.," Ward 7 winner Irek Kusimierczyk told CBC News. "(Residents) have to walk a half a kilometre to the closest bus stop."

But, his plans don't stop there.

"There's also long term considerations I wanted to address," he said.

Kusimierczyk said his big focus is getting young people into the workforce.

"We have a 30 per cent youth unemployment rate. To me, that's a crisis," he said. "I felt we really needed to make sure this issue rises to the top of the political agenda. Not just locally, but also provincially and federally. I ran (in this byelection) to make a call-out to the community to get together and beat this issue."

We have a 30 per cent youth unemployment rate. To me, that's a crisis.- Irek Kusimierczyk, Ward 7 councillor

Kusimierczyk, who is also director of robotics and youth programs at WEETEC Aalliance, said there needs to be more cooperation between the college, university, school boards and industries to help direct young people into fields where jobs exist.

"To me, that underlines the tragic irony in Windsor," he said. "On one hand, we have a 30 per cent youth unemployment rate. On the other hand, we have a skills gap costing our local industry about $45 million every year just in the machine, tool and mould industry because they can't find workers."

Byelection reaction

Voter turnout for this byelection was just under 22 per cent.

When asked about the low voter turnout, Kusimierczyk said, "I wouldn't call it apathy. I would call it six degrees below."

"It was a cold, dark December night. It was a byelection ... but, I don't think it's anything to be alarmed about," he said. "I think it's remarkable that 22 per cent of people took the time to come out and vote."

As a guest on CBC Windsor's morning show, he told host Tony Doucette, "It was an amazing, exciting night. I still think I'm riding a bit of a high this morning as well."

Kusimierczyk won the Monday night byelection, beating runner-up Angelo Marignani by 52 votes.

Marignani was also runner-up to Percy Hatfield in Ward 7 in 2010.

"It was thrilling. My family and I were in my uncle's living room. We were on pins and needles," said Kusimierczyk. "Once the final results came in, the room just erupted. We were hugging each other and high-fiving."

Political plans

Kusmierczyk does not currently live in the ward, but grew up in the ward and says he's already looking at real estate listings and he's ready to move back, a promise he made during CBC Windsor's Ward 7 byelection interview.  

And, he says he's looking forward to getting to work in his new role.

"I spoke with the Mayor," he said. "In the evenings, I'll be going through stacks and stacks of papers just to get caught up to speed."

Kusimierczyk will be sworn in later this week after the votes are verified by the city clerk. He will hold the seat until the next general election in October 2014.


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