Maria Tutino, Massad, Hawa and others seek office in their respective cities
© Chronicle photo Keith McAuliffe
Mayoral candidate Paola Hawa campaigning in Ste. Anne's northern sector last week.
In sharp contrast to the status quo where Baie D’Urfe’s Maria Tutino is the only female mayor west of Montreal, the Nov. 3 election may change the political landscape in the West Island.
Female mayoral candidates feature prominently in five of 11 municipal races: Maria Tutino in Baie d’Urfé, Hela Labene and Rhonda Massad in Beaconsfield, Gisele Chapleau in l’Ile Dorval, Paola Hawa in Ste. Anne de Bellevue, and Jane Guest in Senneville.
“I think it’s fantastic that women are stepping up to the plate. I think they’re gaining the confidence that we can in fact lead. I think we’re moving into a different era,” said Hawa, who announced her candidacy in early July.
Facing political newcomer and retired 30-year police officer Paul Chablo, Hawa is attempting to become Ste. Anne’s first-ever female mayor.
“It’s neither here nor there, but it’s nice. I’d rather be known as the best mayor in Ste. Anne’s history and as the most competent,” said the McGill Law graduate and current city councillor.
Other candidates see their candidacy as a chance to balance the political landscape. According to Massad, District 6 councillor in Beaconsfield, “the old boys’ club has had a good run and it’s time for new fresh ideas.”
In a heavy loaded municipal race, which includes female counterpart Hela Labene, James Bonnell and George Bourelle, in a city that’s been plagued by a lack of transparency the last four years under Mayor David Pollock, Massad said it’s time for a new way of doing politics.
“Women often look at things in a different light and are often more communicative,” said Massad.
If elected, the mayoral candidate is hoping to initiate a youth council, akin to Baie D’Urfe’s Junior Council for 10-year-olds and over, to encourage participation in civic affairs.
To Beaconsfield’s youth she added: “You have to have a passion for helping others, be solution-oriented and have plenty of patience.”
When it comes to being a mayor, however, gender shouldn’t be a determining factor, according to Baie d’Urfé’s Maria Tutino. At the helm of the small, affluent town for the last eight years, Tutino attributed her success to energy, passion, and commitment – tools she said are necessary for success.
“There are more challenges to females but that shouldn’t be the determining factor.” You need to look for the best people for the job. I love and find it rewarding what I do,” said Tutino.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a man or woman, if you got the energy, passion, and commitment, you can be a mayor.”
Even more impressive is the long-list of female candidates running for councillor posts in the west Island.
The list includes: Baie d’Urfé’s Lynda Phelps (District 1), Viviane Proulx (District 2) and Janet Ryan (District 3); Beaconsfield’s Karen Messier (District 2), Claudia Granato and Francoise Ortuso (District 5), and Peggy Alexopoulos and Karen-Anne Whelan (District 6); Dollard des Ormeaux’ Zoe Bayouk (District 1), Catherine Thomas (District 4), and Colette Gauthier (District 8); Dorval’s Heather Allard and Joan Williams (District 5) and Margo Heron (District 6); Ile Bizard-Sainte-Genevieve’s Marie-Andree Gelly (Denis-Benjamin-Viger), Louise Gauthier and Diane Gibb (Pierre-Foretier), Angele Richer (Jacques-Bizard) and Genevieve-Anais Proulx (Sainte-Genevieve); L’Ile Dorval’s Susan Aubertin (District 5); Kirkland’s Shahla Amiri and Sophie Mohsen (District 4) and Karen Cliffe and Nancy Kokinasidis (District 8); Pointe Claire’s Celine Aldworth, Linda DeWitt, Carla Letourneau and Kelly Thorsdad-Cullen (District 3), Cynthia Homan, Amanda Roberts and Susan Weaver (District 5), and Alexandra Caden (District 7); Pierrefonds-Roxboro’s Suzanne Marceau and Justine McIntyre (City East), Claudine Campeau and Nathalie Morin (Borough East), Catherine Clement-Talbot (City West) and Odette Maltais and Lisa Sirignano (Borough West); Ste Anne de Bellevue’s Dana Chevalier (District 1), Lise-Anne Briand and Andree Deschamps (District 3) and Johanne Raymond (District 6); and lastly, Senneville’s Julie Brisebois (District 4).