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Essa council sees no benefit in ridding of deputy mayor

In Essa
Oct 31st, 2012
Former mayor Dave Guergis is resident group’s ‘liaison advisor’
By Brad Pritchard Barrie Advance Oct 19, 2012 – 2:18 PM|  0 |Report a Typo or Correction
 ESSA TWP- Essa Mayor Terry Dowdall says he doesn’t agree with the Angus Ratepayers Association’s (ARA) desire to replace the deputy mayor with a second councillor for Angus, saying the current council setup works just fine.
Dowdall, along with other council members, dismissed the need for the proposed change Wednesday night when asked to respond to a recent letter from the resident association calling for the shuffle.
The mayor said he doesn’t see the need for the change, but said he would be open to reviewing the ward boundaries for the next election. Dowdall said the request comes out of left field since he’s never received any complaints about council being inaccessible to residents.
“I haven’t had anyone come to me to say that they can’t get a hold of council,” he added.
In their letter, the ARA asked the township to axe the deputy mayor position in time for the next election, saying it “does not feel that the Deputy Mayors (sic) position serves any real purpose.”
While every municipality in Simcoe County has a deputy mayor, the group says there are examples of other municipalities in the province that don’t.
The group also says Angus, which has a population of about 8,700, should be divided into two wards. They argue the settlement area makes up for nearly half of the township’s population of about 18,500 and that the current ward system established in 1994 is due for a review.
Instead of sending the deputy mayor to sit on county council, they also propose that one of the four councillors be elected to fill the spot alongside the mayor.
Deputy Mayor Sandie Macdonald, owner of Naturally For You Health Store in Angus and council rep of the Economic Development Committee, dismissed the notion the ward is being underrepresented.
“I believe in working with a team and every ward really has (triple) representation because the mayor, myself and the ward councillor almost go to every single thing possible,” she said. “So I don’t think anyone is lacking in that sense of the thing.”
Angus Coun. Keith White, who was elected in 2010 and is the owner of Angus Borden Music, agreed.
“In my experience, while it’s only been two years, but certainly as the mayor has mentioned, we are all accessible,” he said. “I believe in this council as a team, the five of us work together very well.”
White also accused the ARA of asking for the change out of self-interest.
“To be honest, I think there are some underlying motives here…in regards to establishing another council position.
“And to be honest, the membership of the Angus Ratepayers Association is under 20 people,” he said. “So I don’t really think that’s representative of the 8,700 that are in the ward.”
ARA president and Angus resident Tami Harry later corrected White’s statement, saying the group has 36 members. She also confirmed that former Essa mayor David Guergis is their “liaison advisor.”
White said council tries to provide equal representation for all residents.
“We keep in mind everyone’s ward, its not like one’s fighting for something more than the rest or whatever. It’s all in everyone’s best interests.
Harry said the ARA will continue to push for the change, saying “We simply feel that after almost twenty years and the unprecedented growth in Angus that a review of the current system is in order.”
This is the second letter of recommendation sent to council from the ARA since it formed earlier this year in March.
In July, the group voiced its opposition to the proposed hook-up of the Angus sewer system into Baxter. Among the claims, the group said this would force Angus residents to subsidize costs for other residents.
The township responded, dismissing the claims in a detailed letter. 

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