French defeats incumbent Collins by 958 votes
By Cheryl Browne Barrie Examiner
SPRINGWATER TWP. – Times they are a changin’ in Springwater.
A new mayor, deputy mayor and two newly elected council members with a new agenda will take the reins after a huge upset in the municipal election on Monday.
Newly elected mayor Bill French defeated cincumbent Linda Collins by 958 votes.
French saw a final draw of 3,426 votes over Collins, who had 2,468, while Tony Guergis finished with 581 votes.
“We have a platform based on leadership and I’m going to do my job accordingly,” French said at the Royal Canadian Legion in Elmvale after the polls had closed on Monday night.
French said he had a three-pronged platform, focusing on leadership, agriculture and the environment.
“Other candidates tried to make the Midhurst Secondary Plan their single platform in the campaign, but I had a three-pronged approach and didn’t deviate from that,” he said.
Yet, French knows plans to develop Midhurst and the agricultural land surrounding the village was the uppermost concern on the minds of many voters.
Former minister of municipal affairs and housing Bob Chiarelli “had to put a special plan in place and they never review their plans unless a municipality asks them to. We, as a council, are not going to stop this plan, but we can ask the minister to stop this plan,” he said.
With newly elected deputy mayor Don Allen as his right-hand man, French said he feels a united council has a better chance.
Allen won his seat handily with 3,133 votes compared to current Deputy Mayor Dan McLean, who received 2,811 votes.
Allen, a chartered professional accountant, said he just moved to Midhurst from the Town of the Blue Mountains in March and didn’t know many people when he started knocking on their doors six weeks ago.
“But I connected well with people at the door and believe they were engaged,” Allen said at the legion on Monday.
Wards 1 and 3 will also have new councillors, with Katy Austin taking the lead with 537 votes in Ward 1, and Jennifer Coughlin with 821 votes in Ward 3.
Councillor Perry Ritchie kept his seat in Ward 2, while Sandy McConkey was acclaimed in Ward 4 and Jack Hanna reclaimed his seat in Ward 5.
Collins said she ran a strong campaign.
“I worked independently and represented myself well with a cadre of supportive people. I have no regrets,” Collins said.