Municipal election over; now what?

Carleton Place town hall.
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Posted on: October 29, 2018

Brian Turner

The signs are down, fliers stored away (or put out for recycling), and the election rhetoric is finally silent. At Hometown News we thought this would be a perfect time to connect with Carleton Place’s newest council to get their take on how things shaped up, shook out, and what they were looking forward to (and dreading) on and after December 4th when they’re sworn in as municipal government members for the next four years.

The first question regarded their individual takes on the message(s) that local voters gave through their ballot choices. Councilor Doug Black won the mayor’s seat with 2,578 votes over incumbent Louis Antonakos with 635 and Ralph Lee with 1,003 and Roland Wutherich with 44. Councilor Sean Redmond took the deputy-mayor’s position with 1,605 votes over Craig Rogers (1,234) and Rae Dulmage (1,370). Councilor Theresa Fritz was returned with 2,440 votes along with newcomers Andrew Tennant (1,991), Linda Seccaspina (1,829), Toby Randell (1,799) and Jeff Atkinson (1,687).

Black interpreted these results as CP residents being “done with controversy” and having a desire to provide “a strong mandate to move forward”. Redmond believed the message was to “put the last four years behind us” and he was “very happy with the results” and believes “together we can build good things together for the town”. Fritz heard that residents wanted “council to be focused on the issues and not be distracted”. She added that while voters were tired of the negativity (of the last term) they also recognized the value of the work that she and the other successful incumbents had achieved (hence their reelections). Almost all of the council-elect (and they all readily and gladly participated in these interviews), felt voters were done with front-page negative coverage of their community and were demanding a new style of leadership going forward.

Seeing that all members of the new council did a fair amount of door knocking during the campaign, we asked if any common themes of residents’ concerns became apparent. While some, like Seccaspina received only general comments such as “we want something positive with council” and “we’re sick of all the complaining”, others like Randell got a shopping list of specifics dealing with increased traffic and related safety risks stemming from new housing and commercial growth.  Atkinson noted he heard that “the town doesn’t have a good handle on the speed of (development) growth” and that residents were concerned with preserving the best of Carleton Place during continued expansion.

Council veteran and former journalist Fritz heard loud and clear about the town’s budget, the upcoming central bridge project and upgrade needs for the arena. She listened to doorway comments such as “we want to be informed more” when it came to council issues, deliberations, and actions.

Few of the seven had any dreads about what their new term would bring, and all expressed a high level of positivity in being able to tackle challenges head on. Black told us he was looking forward to “kicking off the new session with better due diligence on the topics and issues of the day.”  Redmond said he was looking forward to help “build a team for a productive and enjoyable four years” and “to work with the private sector and the county to replace lost affordable housing stock” and to gain commitments for more in the future.

Tennent stated he was “looking forward to getting down to hands-on work” on the files facing the new council and believes that his construction career experience will help him navigate issues like the central bridge project to achieve better outcomes.

Fritz summed up well when she commented that she was looking forward to a “clean slate and new beginning with everyone on council being excited for what can be.” She noted that she believes Doug (mayor-elect Black) will set a new and inclusive tone that will easily let the will of the collective council decide future actions and plans that will be in Carleton Place’s best interests.