Tay Valley candidates draw crowd to school

The auditorium was packed at Tay Valley Public School for the All-Candidates meeting Wednesday night. Photo credit: Sally Smith.
Posted on: October 6, 2018

Sally Smith

So…will it be the career musician who would bring music to council if elected to Tay Valley council, or the moody, broody lawyer Mick Wicklum? Both Doug Barr and Wicklum took to the mic Wednesday night at Tay Valley Public School addressing an over-capacity crowd, expressing their views and opinions on what could be done and what should be done.

It takes guts to stand up in front of an over-capacity crowd and declare you’re running for position of councillor; it takes bravado and even egotism to stand in front of the same crowd to state why you should be elected (either newly or again) as reeve, deputy reeve or for another term as councillor.

There was lots of all three at the Tay Valley All-Candidates’ meeting September 26 hosted by the Perth and District Canadian Federation of University Women and sponsored by Lake 88. The auditorium was packed with well-wishers, groupies and those actually looking for information or hoping for a bit of back-and-forth between candidates.

It was not to be.

The crowd of 294 (plus) was civil, loud, and clapped frequently; there were no catcalls or raspberries, no shouting or en masse departures. In other words — courteous and polite.

Ten chairs sat behind a long table waiting for the first speakers — those vying for a councillor’s position — Fred Dobbie, Wayne Jordan, Gene Richardson, Doug Barr, Greg Hallam, Beverley Phillips, Mick Wicklum, Mark Burnham, RoxAnne Darling and Rob Rainer.

Three candidates were vying for two positions in Bathurst Ward; they spoke first. Four candidates were vying for two positions in Burgess Ward, and finally three candidates were vying for two positions in Sherbrooke ward.

Dobbie (a present councillor) detailed his work over the past four years.

Jordan followed stating he’s “not a politician, just a country lad who likes to get involved with his community” and making his first run.

Richardson promised to look at all sides through “listening, communication and resolution,” and was making his first attempt at council.

Then came Barr running for Burgess Ward. “I’ve been in Nunavut, in the Arctic, for the last four years. I’m glad to be back,” he said. Wanting to get involved but not sure how, he decided to make a run for a council seat. As a musician, he cautioned that “…if I do get elected to council, there may be singing.” He stands for cleaner rivers and lakes, gives a high priority to the environment, wants to give every break possible to farmers, believes in growing local food, in tiny houses, accountability, and fiscal responsibility, and accepts it will be a steep learning curve, if elected.

Present councillor Hallam is looking for another term; he’s been on council eight years, takes a common sense approach, looks at all facts, and doesn’t “have a knee jerk reaction to situations,” nor “is susceptible to inappropriate outside influences.” He also wants to bring on high speed broadband which will “help keep the younger generation living and working here.”

Phillips stood next. As this is her first run she says she brings no baggage and no hidden agendas, and confessed she’s running because it was on her “bucket list…but so was sky diving. Politics seemed less stressful — but I might have been wrong,” she laughed. She listed her attributes: she’s dependable and  trustworthy, she listens, learns both sides, she does her homework, is fair, promises common sense and competent representation. Her background is in finance.

Wicklum, intense and serious, the final speaker for Burgess Ward, sat and spoke. This is his first run for council. He detailed his law experiences, admitted he had a great “politically correct” speech planned, tossed it out deciding instead to speak from the gut. “Tay Valley has lost its way. It’s adrift with no one seemingly at the helm, and we’re headed straight for the rocks. There are three major problems — procedural bylaws, the Blueberry Creek fiasco and ongoing disarray in Council Chambers.

“One problem night be fine, two problems may be a coincidence but three major problems with lawyers letters flying around everywhere…” he questions. “There’s no other conclusion. Something isn’t working at the council level and it’s gotta be fixed. The next big issue is the monastery expansion in Burgess —  that could be the biggest problem of them all. If voted in I will re-open the bylaw, fix Blueberry Creek and make sure the monastery is handled well from the start.

“Not every decision is going to be a popular one but it does have to be the right one, not partly right, not somewhat right. Council decisions have to be full right.”

Burnham spoke first for Sherbrooke Ward and is making another run after being off council for four years. He believes in transparency, in recording and posting council meetings; he says he knows it will cost money.

Darling, on council for 12 years, realizes there has been “much controversy, and that Tay Valley is a township divided.” She believes “great communities are created by small, everyday acts of goodwill and support,” and if she’s re-elected she will add “common sense and understanding” to that.

The final speaker for a councillor’s position was Rainer making his first run. He has lived and worked across Canada, been an executive director for seven organizations, considers himself a “visionary, welcoming, responsible and responsive” and is “independent in mind and voice.”

No questions were entertained; as soon as candidates for councillor finished their entreaties, Deputy Reeve candidates took to the stage.