While I had hoped for a better turnout at the polls, we did see a marked increase as almost 40 percent of the 31,000 voters took advantage of their democratic rights and voted. Cheers to you!
And cheers to all of the candidates who had the courage and conviction to put their names on the ballot. For me, this resulted in a great exchange of ideas and differing points of view on important issues facing Georgina. In many cases, those candidates who were not successful collectively garnered 50 per cent of the vote, so their contributions should not be easily discarded. Bravo to them!
But, the results were telling. Congratulations to all the candidates who will represent Georgina on council for the next four years. Margaret Quirk comes to office with a clear mandate to implement change at the Civic Centre. Voters don’t want the same old, same old. My sense is they want to see a leader who listens, who can create a dynamic on council that encourages honest and open discussions. They want transparency and respect for their hard earned tax dollars. They want a council that understands at every step of the process who they are working for.
There are three incumbents who will not be returning to the Civic Centre and I want to take a few minutes to pay tribute to them.
Rob Grossi can walk away with his head held high. His collective achievements and accomplishments as Georgina’s Mayor for almost 20 years cannot be overstated. And the voter’s quest for change should not cast a shadow on his passion for this community nor his unparalleled dedication to the office of Mayor. This kind of devotion should never be dismissed.
I will miss Phil Craig on council. He was always prepared, he did his homework and he came to council with a sound understanding of the issues and a well-thought out solution. I thought he always did a great job of representing his ward and the Town of Georgina. The timing for his career opportunities was unfortunate but I wish him the very best for the future. He deserves our respect and our gratitude.
Brad Smockum is an old friend, not just to me but to the residents in Ward 5. Brad worked hard–guided by a moral compass of honesty and integrity–two qualities I will always look for in an elected representative. He can walk away proud of his contribution and service to his community–I thank you, Brad and so do the residents of Georgina.
With five new and fresh faces on council the immediate future is daunting. The first thing they will have to deal with is the 2015 budget and this is not a process for the faint-of-heart. They will be on a short learning curve and they will all have to be quick studies. There are important issues that have been left on the table–huge issues–and it will be difficult to make the right decisions without knowing all of the facts. In addition to the budget negotiations, they will need to get up to speed quickly on: the Sedore property purchase, the former Sutton Public School property, the North Gwillimbury Forest, a number of ongoing legal actions, the Official Plan review–and oh, so much more.
My advice to these new council members is this: always come to council prepared, be thoughtful in your deliberations, listen carefully to all sides of a discussion, be transparent and never lose touch with your constituents. Your mandate is nothing less.