DAN CEARNS, The Standard
SCUGOG: The acclaimed Scugog municipal election candidates are excited about getting to work next term.
Following the closing of the election nomination period, six out of seven positions in Scugog were declared acclaimed, with nobody running against those candidates. Wilma Wotten is Scugog’s new Mayor. Ian McDougall will become the Regional Councillor. David Leroy is the new Ward 1 Councillor, Janna Guido is back as Ward 2 Councillor, Robert Rock returns as Ward 3 Councillor, and Harold Wright becomes the new Ward 4 Councillor. The only election race is in Ward 5.
“For me, it’s very exciting, but being acclaimed was a little anticlimactic. It’s daunting, I think. It’s a whole bunch of things. I’m excited, but [at the same time] with no one running against me, it begs the question of why. Am I doing such a good job, or is there a general apathy?” Ms. Wotten said.
While he was a little surprised nobody ran against him, Mr. Wright said this matches a trend happening across Ontario.
“You get looking over the entire scope of the province, and I guess that was a common thing in this election, there were less participants,” he stated.
While he didn’t get much of a chance to campaign this time around, Mr. Leroy explained he had a positive experience during the 2018 municipal election campaign he hopes to draw from moving forward.
“At that time, I had recently moved to Scugog. Campaigning helped me make connections in the Ward and meet many people whom I would not otherwise have encountered. It was a great experience. We have a lot of dynamic, entrepreneurial, and thoughtful residents who care deeply about our region and about keeping Scugog a great place to live and do business. I’m looking forward to expanding my connections within the Ward and within Scugog more broadly.”
Mr. Leroy also touched on what people can expect from him as a councillor, “This clearly wasn’t a popular job. It’s a lot of work and can be thankless, and I think people realize that. For my part, I’m looking forward to working with my fellow Councillors, all of whom have shown commitment and dedication to Scugog. I’m hoping every resident of Scugog will feel at ease, sharing ideas with us towards the goal of advancing causes which will benefit our community. I’m hoping to use my role as a facilitator to get things done. The more I can step out of the way, the better.”
Despite having a mostly acclaimed council, Ms. Wotten is still looking to engage residents across the municipality. “I am planning a series of community chats, similar to what I did [in the] last election. [This will be] just for people to come and talk about their concerns and what’s good about Scugog or what they’d like to see happen in Scugog in the next four years. I’m hoping to go to each of the wards a couple of times, and I’m hoping the acclaimed candidates, as well as those running in Ward 5, will join me,” she explained.
As one of two acclaimed newcomers to the council, Mr. Wright is looking forward to bringing some fresh ideas to council discussions, “I’m kind of looking forward to it. I’ve been talking to two of the other people who were acclaimed, and I think it’s really going to be a good opportunity, a change for me, and a chance to put a little bit back into the community.”
Mr. Leroy discussed his priorities as the new Ward 1 Councillor,
“I think we have many opportunities to better connect our potential within the region to thoughtful economic development, focusing on agribusiness, tourism, small business, the arts and culture. I think we also have opportunities to ensure we create a more diverse range of housing for current and future residents,” he told The Standard. “Within Ward 1, we have the usual issues of infrastructure maintenance and costs, taxation levels and ensuring municipal regulations are not stifling innovation or business development. I like to think in terms of ‘can do’- and hope to bring this mindset to everything we work on as a municipality. Representing a rural Ward, I am also aware of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s advocacy campaign to preserve farmland. We’re losing 319 acres of farmland a day in Ontario. This level of loss is completely irresponsible.”
Ms. Wotten is hoping as Mayor; she can help to reduce roadblocks for volunteers, to help achieve their goals in the community, as well as see a new long-term care facility built in the community. Other priorities she would like to see move forward are waterfront action plan projects, as well as work on the township’s next strategic plan.