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Deputy Mayor James Leduc running for mayor in fall election

Deputy Mayor James Leduc thinks his four terms of experience on council will make him the perfect fit to be the next mayor of Bradford West Gwillimbury
Deputy Mayor James Leduc mans the booth at Carrot Fest in 2019, on behalf of the Healthy Communities Advisory Committee. Miriam King/Bradford Today

With Bradford West Gwillimbury Mayor Rob Keffer—who has served in the position since 2014—not seeking re-election this fall, Deputy Mayor James Leduc plans to step up.

Having served on town council since 2006, with two terms as a ward councillor and two more as deputy mayor, Leduc hopes to continue to represent the people of Bradford in a larger capacity when the municipal election rolls around in October.

“I’ve put myself in a position for many many years to become the mayor of Bradford West Gwillimbury,” Leduc explained. “I’ve been on council for four terms, and I’d spoken with Mayor Keffer about potentially moving up to the mayor’s position two terms ago after sitting for two as deputy mayor. Recently, we had a conversation and he decided to retire, so I thought it was a perfect time for me to run for the position of mayor. I’ve been working for this for a long time and have the proven leadership.”

Leduc calls his experience on council for the last four terms “extremely valuable” and credits his time as deputy mayor as the reason he believes he’s ready to move up and become mayor of the community he loves.

“I realized it takes a long time to learn the ins and outs of the municipal world and learning to work with the different levels of government,” he said. “It’s a large learning curve and I really appreciate the fact that I was at the ward councillor level and got to deal with residents face-to-face and then moved to the deputy mayor level which allows you to go to the county level and deal more with the development community and more of the business aspect of the community. It’s been a great opportunity to learn, and I believe I’m now the best suited to make sure this community moves forward.”

The relationships Leduc has built over his 16 years on council will be key in handling the issues Bradford will face as it grows and develops. The biggest issue in his mind is transportation.

“The master transportation plan we’re doing now is going to get the future ready for driving through our community,” he said. “After the pandemic, you can see a lot of people are frustrated and moving at a speed that is unacceptable in most communities, so we’re looking at it from a safety aspect and from the view of helping people move around our community without getting frustrated. A lot of people are frustrated with the level of traffic on the roads. I’ve sat on the traffic committee for the last four years and you can see the issues and concerns residents have, and those are our priority as we work on a road network structure that won’t impact the residents as much as we grow.”

With affordability being as important as ever coming out of the pandemic, Leduc wants to focus on doing everything the municipal government can to help families get back on their feet.

“Affordability is something all levels of government are talking about, and it takes a team effort from all levels, including the municipal level,” he said. “We need to help because it’s going to take everyone helping. I want to make sure we have housing for seniors, new families, and young people. This is going to take all levels of government and that’s where experience fits in well because I have those relationships with the other levels of government to ensure we can get on the same page. If we’re going to build 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years, it’s going to take everybody working together.”

Planning for the future is imperative for Bradford with the expected growth over the next few decades, and Leduc’s understanding of where things stand and where they need to go to prepare the community for what’s to come is one of his biggest “assets” he says.

“You’ve got to be prepared. We used to plan for a 20-year horizon, now we’re planning to a 30-year horizon,” he explained. “Things move so fast and when you’re planning for 30 years, you actually review the plan after 10 years. With how fast everything moves, you’ve got to be prepared at all times and always think of the future because, in the end, it’s what we’re going to leave behind to make the quality of life better for everybody else. We’re making decisions today for tomorrow.”

When Leduc first moved to Bradford, he’d talk to those in the community and repeatedly heard that leisure and a proper arena were desperately needed, that’s what helped lead to one of his proudest accomplishments on council, getting the new leisure centre and library built. 

“That’s when I started my foundation in municipal politics,” he said. “Getting the recreation we needed for our youth. In my first term on council, we were able to set a financial plan and by the time the first term was over, we had the leisure centre built with the library. We had two major components to our community built that were very important. Right away I saw how things could work and that you could get things done.”

Moving forward, council will be focusing on developing a central town hall.

“We need to get our staff under one building so we can have a much more professional-looking environment for our working force,” he said. “We need to be professional so we can deal with all the development and growth coming. That’s by putting a financial plan in order and putting everything in place to ensure it’s not a financial burden to the community. That’s why I fully endorse the capital facilities funding for our tax levy. That’s very important so that we don’t actually impact residents when it comes to major improvements in our community.”

Having raised his family in Bradford and with much of his adult life spent in the town, Leduc says there’s no better community out there.

“It’s such a wonderful place to live,” he said. “When I first moved here, I was introducing my children to sports and I asked if I could help out, and that same day I had someone at my door giving me my team and thanking me for helping. I told them I didn’t know anybody, and they told me it would be alright, and they’d help me. That’s what it’s been, everyone helping and pulling together. Bradford means so much to me, when you get to look from the hill down into the marsh it’s such a sight. Coming to Bradford was the best move I ever made.”