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Allies, commitment and experience, candidates get creative to stand out in Ward 8

Voters in Ward 8 will have eight options for their new councillor next month.

Most say they're running because there is no incumbent councillor

Incumbent Coun. Bill Marra had decided to not seek reelection, leaving eight candidates to distinguish themselves as the right choice for Ward 8. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

When Ward 8 councillor Bill Marra decided not to run for re-election, he opened the doors to a flood of candidates who are now trying to separate themselves from the pack. 

While some candidates have seemingly gotten close with one another, others are hoping their platforms and campaign techniques will push them ahead on Oct. 22. 

Greg Lemay said he's trying to be creative. 

And he's doing that by working with the competition: Lisa Valente. 

A Risk-y strategy

"It's almost like a game of Risk," said Lemay, referencing the popular board game where players try to dominate the board (get elected) by capturing pieces and playing areas (votes) from other players (candidates).

He suggested that at the start, you might look for alleys to help make sure you're in the running by the end of the game. 

"You have two people and as you get closer, you separate and at that point it's may the best man win. Or woman."

Greg Lemay works on a campaign video he hopes to post online soon. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Valente has made a mark by asking other candidates to go for a drive in what she calls "carpool conversations." 

"You want to learn about a topic? You bring everyone in the car with you and you start talking and at the end of the road you end up with a solution," said Valente.

Lisa Valente started Carpool Conversations as a way to have engaged chats about issues in the city. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

A recent video was posted on Facebook that featured candidates from across Windsor —  including Lemay — chatting about the need for an Auditor General. 

"We talked about where they could have saved money, if money could have been better spent," said Valente, who has hosted chats on the region's hospitals and issues surrounding homelessness.

Full-time commitments

Candidate Gary Kaschak, a Canadian Border Services Agency employee, believes his commitment to working full-time as a councillor toward one of his priority issues of public safety will separate him. 

"If elected I'm going to retire from that job and become a full-time councillor," said Kashak.

"They seem to think door-to-door that most of the most effective councillors in Windsor are the full-time councillor, the ones that are retired and working the city council, that 40 to 60 hours a week that's necessary."

Giovanni Abati listens to a voter in Ward 8 while knocking doors on Thursday. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Kathryn MacDonell was surprised to see all the names on the list when it was finalized, adding that she planned to run for council ahead of Marra's announcement.

She said what sets her apart from other candidates is her plan to tackle homelessness — specifically converting a closed school into efficiency apartments for people who are homeless, staffed by people who can offer help. 

"One of my goals is to unite like-minded charities and combine their various strengths so we can address larger issues in the city," said MacDonell.

Bringing in experience

A pair of potential councillors, Giovanni (John) Abati and Gemma Grey-Hall, said that their professional experience have helped them stand out from the rest. 

Abati spent a decade working in the planning department of a conservation authority in central Ontario and another 10 years at a waste management facility in Halifax. 

"I think I have a good background in various aspects of the development of a municipality," said Abati, who is currently a truck driver and lists the potential for rail transportation in Windsor as one of his priority issues. 

Gemma Grey-Hall said the city needs an Auditor General in place. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Grey-Hall said she believes her ground game has really helped her stand out, citing that she's knocked on more than 6,000 doors in Ward 8. 

"I will tell you that from the conversations I've had with people, I've been surprised to hear people say that I'm the first candidate to ring their bell in years, in some instances," said Grey-Hall, who said she hopes to inspire and engage people to vote.

She said a priority issue for her is bringing in an Auditor General to look at city finances. 

It's almost like a game of Risk,- Greg Lemay

David Sundin said what separates him from the seven other candidates is how he's trying to create change right now. 

"I either assist the individual with contacting 3-1-1 or I make the phone call myself," said Sundin, who has called on behalf of residents that told him garbage was piling up along a certain street. 

"I'm trying to show that your councillor is here to provide services to you and I'm trying to do that now even as a candidate."

CBC Windsor have contacted Patti Hayes for comment and will update when they respond.