Minden Hills welcomes newcomers to council
By Sue Tiffin
Published Dec. 6, 2018
In his opening remarks to a new council, Mayor Brent Devolin said “diversity will be our strength” at the inaugural meeting of the 2018-2022 Minden Hills council.
He acknowledged councillors Jennifer Hughey and Bob Carter, two new members of the council that otherwise sees the same elected officials as last term, saying they “bring different life experience,” that he’s excited about even though there might be times he will disagree with what is brought to the table.
“I believe in democracy and I think in terms of the age distribution here and the gender, this is pretty balanced, and I think we’re reflective of our community,” said Devolin. “I would say to the public that of the seven of us, there should be at least one when you have a problem or concern or something that just ticks you off, reach out to one of us, and have us act as your advocates in determining what we do or don’t do. Those are kind of my hopes and aspirations.”
Devolin thanked township staff for their efforts during the previous four years, and acknowledged the work of Cheryl Murdoch and Jeanne Anthon, who retired from their deputy mayor and councillor positions after years of service. This marks Devolin’s second term as mayor.
“I was excited in trepidation four years ago, partly because there were things I didn’t know,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I’m any less feeling the same way today because I know the challenges we have, but I look forward with great expectation that we will have the success that we had in the last term.”
In a new role, Lisa Schell was sworn-in as deputy mayor. Previously she had sat as councillor for three terms and was acclaimed as deputy mayor, stepping in as longtime politician Cheryl Murdoch retired.
“Being on council isn’t always popular, as many decisions are made that not everyone will be happy with, however, in my first term, [outgoing councillor] Peter Oyler imparted some words of wisdom to me,” Schell said. “He said, ‘do for the many, not for the few.’ With those words in mind I’ve always tried to base my decisions on what the majority of ratepayers and residents would want.”
Schell stressed the importance for residents to be educated on issues and seek out information by signing up to alerts from the Minden Hills website or following her Facebook page where she posts information and updates.
“This past election showed how many people actually aren’t aware of events, public meetings and facts,” she said. “Get the facts, folks. It’s so important to understand how your local government works and why we make the decisions we do. All decisions at this table are never made lightly.”
Councillor Bob Carter, one of two Ward 1 councillors, joins the council as a newcomer to municipal politics.
“It will be a steep learning curve, but you know, I tell you all that I’ll work with integrity and always try to do my best for the people of Minden Hills,” he said.
Councillor Jennifer Hughey, also for Ward 1, is a newcomer to council as well.
“I’m very excited, I think all of you know I’m very excited to be doing this job for you and the ratepayers of Minden,” she said. “I look forward to working with everyone at this table and everyone that supports this table and certainly I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can in this four years.”
Re-elected Ward 2 Councillor Pam Sayne said the council will be “hitting the ground running,” on what she called a heavy agenda.
“I do want to highlight the fact that scientific research has shown that consensus is the best decision maker,” she said. “All the scientific research says that it’s not the most experienced person, the smartest person or the most articulate person in the room, it really is a consensus that makes the best decisions and the most accurate decisions. So that’s not an opinion, that’s scientific fact. So I’d like to encourage more discussion, people coming from their positions and also for the community to add what they have and their perspectives into all the decisions we need because that’s the only way we’re going to make the best decisions for all of us. Using our thinking and mindful leadership, listening to each other, I think is going to be a very important part of very difficult decisions ahead of us.”
Councillor Jean Neville, Ward 3, was also re-elected. She said she looked forward to working with the new members of council who she was sure would have “some great ideas and lots of energy.”
“We have some seedlings of projects on the go which I hope to see through to fruition,” she said. “Hopefully we can do good things in this coming term of council.”
Neville acknowledged Jeanne Anthon, who retired from her position of councillor Ward 1 and previously sat as a reeve in her long political career, saying she would desperately miss her other half, with the two being known as “a pair of Jean(nes),” but said to laughter from the crowd, which included Anthon, she was sure Anthon could be signed up for committees and volunteer work.
Councillor-at-large Ron Nesbitt, who was reelected, said he loved his job and felt “honoured and privileged” to be sitting on council again. He said he enjoyed working with the people he was working with, including staff, and looked forward to working with newcomers Carter and Hughey, who he encouraged to reach out as they transitioned into their roles.
“If you need anything, call one of us because we’re all family,” he said.
Laurie Scott, Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP, extended congratulations via a statement read by master of ceremonies Dick Schell.
“From personal experience, I can tell you that it is an honour and privilege to represent the great people of Minden Hills,” read Scott’s statement. “It is my belief that by working together we can solve local challenges and achieve the best results for our community.”
The meeting also included a piping in of the elected officials by piper Brian Sachs, and an invocation by Reverend Canon Joan Cavanaugh. Councillors Hughey and Carter signed the resolution, their first, to adjourn the meeting.