Leo Facio has always been up front about wanting to reclaim his seat as mayor of Harrison Hot Springs. He served from 2005 to 2008, and during that time managed to get many projects underway in the small village.
But in the 2008 election, he was ousted by then-councillor Ken Becotte, who carried on many of those projects to fruition. In fact, at many of the ribbon cuttings held over the past term, Facio was an honoured guest for his work toward projects such as the Spirit Square, the new bridge over the Miami River, and the new reservoir.
In many ways, Facio has never left council. Other than the odd holiday, he’s attended every council meeting, along with special meetings and budget meetings.
“I’ve kept my finger on the button of the community,” he said, just days after being elected Harrison’s mayor once again. He’s sat on the advisory planning committee, the sustainability committee and kept involved by volunteering with Communities in Bloom.
And when election time came, he was already knocking on doors.
From what he heard from those he canvassed, he wasn’t surprised to be elected.
“I have to be perfectly honest,” he said. “When I was knocking on doors I had to guess I was in the 300 range.”
He was just about exact. Saturday’s unofficial numbers were at 303, and by Monday, that number changed to 304. Becotte came in third with 158. (For full results see page 2.)
It was a huge landslide in a Village where a relatively small number of votes are available each election. This year, 691 of 1,141 eligible voters came to the polls, a voter turnout of about 60.5%.
“It’s great,” he said. “The public has voted and they certainly wanted a change. They said they would like to see me as mayor.”
His first order of business will be to meet with his council, and find out what portfolios they’d like to hold. He’ll meet with CAO Ted Tisdale to talk about where the Village is at, financially and otherwise.
And after the new year, there will be “a retreat to discuss the upcoming year and future years, to see what projects have to completed, and what we have to move ahead with,” he said. After that, the councilors will have the opportunity to attend council school, where they’ll learn more about the fundamentals of the job ahead and even participate in mock council meetings.
He is planning for some immediate changes to council, including a return to the two meetings a month council schedule. He will also question and answer period after each meeting to all items the public would like to discuss.
He campaigned on the idea of being a “full-time mayor” and said he will always be on hand to discuss issues with the public.
Some of the issues he’s passionate about, and the public can expect to see some action on, include the “east sector,” an increase in development, attracting more festivals, starting a health and wellness program, the creation of a skateboard park and a five-pin bowling alley, and creating better liaisons with the school and families.
“We need growth,” he said. “Without growth, we cannot attract the businesses that we will require in Harrison. How can we reduce our carbon footprint if we have to drive everyhwere?”