New mayor resonates with Barrie families
Editorial By RAYMOND BOWE Barrie Examiner October 29 2010
Barrie’s new mayor isn’t much different than me, and probably a lot of other city residents as well. A young man, married with a child.
Lehman embodies a large portion of the city’s population: young parents. He and his wife, Jennifer, are raising their one-year- old daughter, Cassandra, in the Sunnidale Park neighbourhood.
At 35, even Lehman’s age is bang on with the median in Barrie. Council, as a whole, has an average age of about 42 years old. (Carbon-dating some councillors is like uncovering state secrets.) Many new councillors also have young children at home.
It’s a sobering thought to think that someone my own age is leading the charge in the Barrie City Hall council chambers. I can only hope that the future he envisions for his daughter growing up in this city isn’t much different than what I hope for my son. Recreational facilities. Parks. Libraries. Intriguing new ways to educate and stimulate our children.
This may have been why so many people connected with Lehman and, ultimately, why they voted for him.
Lehman will bring an air of youth to council. And, should he require someone to bounce ideas off, just a few seats away will be current Innisfil mayor Brian Jackson, who comes to Barrie with almost two decades of political experience.
Some Innisfil councillors have said that Jackson, even when he’s in disagreement on an issue, was sort of father figure for advice and guidance. That could also be his role on Barrie council, which, aside from incumbents Barry Ward and Michael Prowse, will have plenty of young blood.
Lehman was first elected to city council in 2006 to represent the downtown ward, an area plagued by issues in recent years, including crime and decay, especially west of the Five Points.
Granted, he didn’t solve all of those problems during his term, but he was front and centre in searching for solutions, whether that meant forming a neighbourhood association or speaking out against the closure of the city’s only downtown high school.
Four years ago, I sat down with Lehman in a Dunlop Street East coffee shop to discuss his plans for the downtown. He was up front then, saying that it would take years to change the city’s core.
“You can’t be rushing things because you feel the need to show a new direction right away,” Lehman said in November 2006. “We do need a new direction, but we also need time to figure it out.”
Four years later, those words also reflect his role as mayor-elect.
So, good luck Jeff, along with the rest of the crew. Make the future bright for our youth. Raymond Bowe is a general assignment reporter for the Barrie Examiner.