Small business owner Frank Adamson is looking to unseat incumbent Mayor Marvin Junkin. DON RICKERS

“My bottom line is that I want to see much more input from the community”

If you plan to peruse Frank Adamson’s résumé, you’d best find a chair and get comfortable. It’s a long read.

It includes accolades for leadership roles on board committees for Raise the Arches, Summerfest, the Canada Games Torch Run, Pelham Non-Profit Housing, and Wellspring Niagara. Adamson has spent innumerable hours fundraising for the United Way of South Niagara, Pelham Cares, Niagara Community Foundation, the Welland Hospital Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, and Rose City Kids. He has won several awards, including Pelham Citizen of the Year, from the Kinsmen Club, along with kudos from Rotary International, an organization with which he has served at executive levels.

A small business owner at present, Adamson runs the KwikFit Niagara gym at the corner of Highway 20 and Pelham Street. Although he has never held elected office, In previous incarnations he was a paramedic, college professor, Chair of the Niagara District Health Council, Chief of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for Niagara, and Vice President of Planning and Professional Services at the Welland Hospital.

RELATED: Wrapping up the Adamson-Junkin parking dispute

Adamson is confident that his extensive experience as a community leader and activist, with significant accomplishments as a strategist and fundraiser, will propel him into the mayor’s seat in Pelham.

He filed his candidacy papers for the October 24 election at the eleventh hour, and told the Voice that running for political office was not initially on his radar. He simply felt that an important office like the mayor of an 18,000-population municipality should not be acclaimed, and decided to run when it appeared that no one else was going to step up to challenge incumbent Marvin Junkin.

“Politicians have it within their power to achieve good, to make the community a little better than it was when they came in,” said Adamson. “That’s solely my intention. But as I said, if a credible candidate had come forward, I wouldn’t be in this race.”

Adamson and his wife of 46 years, Judy, who is a retired psychiatric nurse, have two grown daughters residing in England and Washington State. They have lived in Niagara since 1972, and in Fonthill since 1985.

Adamson has developed a “Five-Point Plan for Pelham,” which includes active transportation initiatives, protecting the environment, community engagement, affordable housing for young people and seniors, and fair taxation and money management.

Speaking of his opponent, Adamson said, “I don’t know what Marv’s priorities are, I just know what he’s done. Basically, I’m interested in good value for people’s tax dollars. To suggest that taxes are going to go down, when inflation is up around nine percent…well, that’s not going to happen. I think people want to be taxed fairly, and for public funds to be spent prudently.”

Adamson said that taxes in Pelham have gone up about 25 percent over the past four years.

“No politician would ever say ‘I’m going to increase taxes by that rate. They’d never get elected. But reality is reality. Fairness and good value for money is really what people are looking for, and that goes back to sound judgment by politicians in terms of making decisions, seeking input from staff, and soliciting community feedback.”

If elected, Adamson said that the first order of business would be to redevelop Pelham’s strategic plan.

“It should not be created by Town staff and council alone,” he said. “We should be reaching out to people to ask, ‘What’s your vision?’ I’m big on the Town Hall approach, on community engagement. Once a year, if not more, I want council and staff to meet with the local Lions, Rotary, and Kinsmen service clubs, the three volunteer firefighter associations, and the Legion, and see how we can work together on events like Summerfest, and can get more people serving on our advisory committees. We need to have input from more voices.”

Turning to protection of the environment, Adamson said that, “five years ago, Rotarians planted one tree for every member in the organization around the world, about 1.2 million trees. I don’t see any reason why over the next four years, we can’t plant a tree for every citizen in Pelham, about 18,000 trees in total.”

The Great Lakes Watershed Cleanup on Earth Day is another green initiative that Adamson is eager to continue supporting. He also advocates installing charging stations for electric and hybrid vehicles at Town Hall, the Meridian Community Centre, and the local library branches, and wants the Town to phase in hybrid vehicles rather than gasoline-powered cars and trucks as its fleet gets updated.

Working with the Niagara Chapter of Trout Unlimited Canada to protect the cold-water habitat on the Twelve Mile Creek is another of Adamson’s priorities, as is creating more active transportation options for pedestrians and cyclists.

“I’d really like to see something done with the old rail trail that runs between here and Pine Street in Thorold, and goes under Highway 406,” he said. “We can work on some creative funding. The Steve Bauer Trail was sponsoring big-time by the Rotary Club, and I can see us getting involved with the service clubs, and applying for grants. I’d also love to see some more walkability along Canboro Road between Oakridge and Effingham, where there’s no sidewalk. We need to take those damn rumble strips out. Anybody that cycles or runs, like I do, doesn’t want to have to contend with them.”

In fact, according to Public Works Director Jason Marr, under the Junkin council the Town has already undertaken an effort to remove the rumble strips, which are a safety measure designed to alert drivers to the edge of the roadway.

“The Town has applied for a grant which would see removal of the rumble strips and repaving of the shoulders between Vinemount and Effingham,” Marr tells the Voice. “We have not heard back on the success of this grant submission.”

Affordable housing, especially for young people and seniors, is a tough issue to crack, and it’s tied more to regional and provincial jurisdiction than municipal, said Adamson, who wants to work with the Region to promote more apartments and townhouses, and with Pelham Non-Profit Housing to provide more geared-to-income spaces.

“There’s no reason why we can’t do a Habitat for Humanity build in this community,” he said. “We’re the only Niagara municipality that has not provided land for Habitat. Rotary has been involved in a couple of those projects. I’ve got a really good relationship with Mountainview Homes and Lucchetta Homes, and think we can get something going there. If the Town could provide land as its contribution, it won’t cost the taxpayers anything, per se. I’d love to see the three service clubs come together to assist in the build, and also have a development of tiny homes, which are very affordable at about $175,000 each. It could be on public land, perhaps at the front corner of Centennial Park, for instance.”

Each Niagara mayor automatically has a seat on Niagara Regional Council, and Adamson has some ideas in mind at that level.

“I would be very interested in the Police Services Board. I’ve had a good working relationship with a number of Niagara police chiefs over the years, and have kept abreast of what’s happening there. Obviously, I’m keen on health services, and have my experience as the chief of EMS to draw on,” he said.

Adamson believes that there are opportunities for savings at the Regional level, much more so than there are locally.

“I would want to take a good hard look at the Regional budget, which is huge,” he said. “The duplication of services between the municipalities and the Region just drives me crazy, in regard to things like tourism, economic development, and wastewater. Why do we have all these different layers of administration? People have been saying that forever, but nobody’s ever done much about it, other than transit. Finally, we’ve got a unified transit. But municipalities like Waterloo had unified transit decades ago.”

Selling his wife on a run for the mayor’s chair was Adamson’s initial hurdle.

“When I first broached the idea of running for mayor with Judy, she said “NO, you’re not doing this.’ But now she’s helping with my campaign, designing my pamphlets, and offering advice on how to get things done. She’s a good conscience. When I’m getting a little off tangent, she gets me back on track, so she’s a great support.”

Voters shouldn’t doubt for a minute that he’s up for the challenge, stressed Adamson.

“I feel more like 37 than 70,” he said. “I’m healthy, still running and cycling, still working. I’m in good shape, with lots of energy. And I figured now was the time to take the leap. I buried my twin brother in July of this year, and had a younger brother who died of cancer at 58. As healthy as you think you are, you just never know. So at this point, I’m healthy, and I have the time, with my commitment to the Raise the Arches completed, as well as the organizational work on the Canada Games Torch Run finished. The Arches was a huge job over the last three years. I easily put in 2000 hours on that project. And Summerfest is in the rear-view mirror for now. I’ve got my KwikFit business, which is about 20 hours a week, and I have staff to assist with our 70 clients. A lot of Pelham Council and Regional Council meetings are in the evening, when I’ll have free time.”

Win or lose, Adamson is confident that the incoming Pelham council will have a strong base, and said that different points of view are important for a well-functioning council, as long as civility is preserved.

“Wayne Olson and Kevin Ker in Ward 1 are solid people,” said Adamson. “Bob Hildebrandt has some good ideas. John Wink, who I worked closely with on the Summerfest Committee, has done a wonderful job. He’s a consensus builder, and a former Pelham Citizen of the Year award winner. Carla Baxter served on the Cannabis Control group for the last four years. I know Brian Eckhardt through his work as a detective with the Niagara Regional Police, and he also chaired Family and Children’s Services. Colin McCann is a volunteer firefighter who works in the Ombudsman’s Office as an investigator. So, all good, solid people. I think you’re not going to see the infighting that drove some people kind of crazy over the last four years.”

Election day is October 24.

 

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. Frank Adamson has been an arrogant know it all p****k since the 1990’s. Voting him in would be a disaster for this town. I’m not surprised one bit that he took that cheap parking shot at Junkin.

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