After several years of contemplation, community advocate Raechelle Devereaux is entering the realm of provincial politics, where she hopes to influence social policy decisions.
Devereaux announced Friday morning that she’s seeking the Liberal Party of Ontario nomination for the Guelph riding during next year’s provincial election.
“I could not be more excited about this step in the process and I am so thrilled to engage with my city on this journey,” she told GuelphToday.
“I have been really interested in politics and the opportunity to represent the community, and influence good social policy … on a larger scale for a few years now.”
Devereaux is chief executive officer of Guelph Community Health Centre. In that role she works with a number of community agencies to address issues such as food insecurity, housing and homelessness, addiction and more.
The centre’s board of directors has given its approval for her to participate in the democratic process, Devereaux explained, and made arrangements to shift some of her duties, such as media relations and political lobbying, as well as grant an unpaid leave of absence during the election period, should she be selected as the Liberal candidate.
The leave of absence wouldn’t begin until the writ is dropped and the election officially begins.
“My track record to-date and my commitment going forward is to run a really respectful campaign and to talk about what I can do, and what Liberals can do, and that commitment puts no one at risk but rather just showcases to this community the need for and opportunities for change,” Devereaux said when asked if she had concerns about whether her political forray could have implications for the health centre and its services to people in need.
“Guelph Community Health Centre is a non-partisan organization.”
During the 2018 general election, Liberal party candidate Sly Castaldi garnered 10.1 per cent of votes, far behind Green Party leader Mike Schreiner who took the seat with 45 per cent of voter support.
Between them came Progressive Conservative (PC) candidate Ray Ferraro at 21.8 per cent and NDP candidate Agnieszka Mlynarz at 21.6 per cent.
“I think this election … is going to be about a movement,” Devereaux said. “It’s a movement about bringing a community that has experienced the shortfalls of public policy really understanding and getting behind what good public policy looks like and what policy looks like when it’s good for the whole of the community.”
No date has been set for riding association members to select a Liberal candidate, said association president Jean Stevens, who noted another person is in the midst of completing their nomination papers for submission and a third person has expressed interest in seeking the candidacy.
Schreiner, the incumbent MPP, was confirmed last month as the Green Party’s local candidate.
Attempts to reach the local provincial NDP and PC riding associations were not immediately successful