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October 07, 2022

All-candidates meeting in Ayton gave West Grey residents a first look at prospects for Council

West Grey All-Candidates Meeting in Ayton

BY SOUTHGREY.CA STAFF — On September 29, candidates in the West Grey Municipal election gathered for an All Candidates Meeting in Ayton, sponsored by the Optimist Club of Normanby Township. It was the first chance to hear from candidates. The event was moderated by Ted Easton and hosted by the Normanby Optimist Club. Here is some of what was said:

Steve Morel (candidate for Councillor)

"I grew up in a small town," said Steve Morel, who in his opening remarks, cited the legacy of many politically-engaged family members to explain his calling to the municipal arena. "I'm running for Council to serve the community because I guess it's in the blood."

Serving on economic development and Durham BIA boards, Morel described his experience as a volunteer and his affinity for research, efficiency and collaboration.

Filomena McDonald (candidate for Councillor)

Filomena MacDonald pledged to listen to constituents and their concerns, naming a few issues important to them. "One of the biggest issues... is keeping our community safe with relationships (West grey Police) have built upon," she iterated. Accessibility for downtown shops was another priority for her.

Claiming to manage stress well, be approachable and a good problem-solver, McDonald also promised to uphold integrity and accountability, should she be chosen to serve on Council.

Doug Townsend (candidate for Councillor)

Keeping the West Grey Police force was top of mind for Doug Townsend. "I've been voicing my opinion on this subject since four members of Council requested a costing back in December." Spending, roads and bridges and planning for the future were also on Townsend's list of Council agenda items. He continued his opening remarks with a call to "getting back to basics" and creating a community "where citizens want to volunteer and participate in groups and projects without all the red tape."

Vice Chairperson on the West Grey Police Services Board and current member of the Abbeyfield Houses Society Board, Townsend tried to illustrate his desire to help people and serve the community.

Rebecca Hergert (candidate for Councillor)

Representative on Council for the last six years, Rebecca Hergert extolled a deep appreciation for the generations who came before us to build West Grey into a successful community. "My job for the last six years has included listening to the public, asking tough questions and facilitating conversations," said Hergert, who promised not to make hasty decisions but rather to rely on extensive research and public feedback in any Council deliberations.

She also noted important dates for public engagement on the West Grey Police Services issue.

Joyce Nuhn (candidate for Councillor)

Born and raised in West Grey, Joyce Nuhn has been an active member of the community, coaching, fundraising and volunteering for many local organizations including the Ayton-Normanby Lioness Club as well as the Normanby Homecoming and West Grey Canada 150 Committees. A 35-year veteran of the West Grey administration and public works, Nuhn expressed a desire to increase garbage collection through summer months, pave more roads in the municipality, expand natural gas availability and reliable internet connectivity into rural communities.

Scott Foerster (candidate for Councillor)

Scott Foerster has been involved with the Neustadt, Normanby, Carrick Agricultural Society for the past five years and spent three years as president. He has served on various West grey sub-committees and boasts a good working relationship with staff and Councillors.

He cited three main issues motivating him to run for council: infrastructure, policing and economic development. "Let's not become a bedroom community," Foerster exclaimed.

Yvonne Pelletier (candidate for Councillor)

"I want to work to preserve the combination of community, natural beauty and small-town charm that makes West grey so special and also help prepare for the future," said Yvonne Pelletier. With a background in education, she promised to practice good-governance by listening carefully, gathering information, navigating opposing opinions, clarifying complexities and finding areas of cooperation.

She praised many natural qualities of the area and vowed to listen to citizens. "Unless we take steps to protect what makes this place what it is, we may lose it."

Doug Hutchinson (candidate for Councillor)

A retired teacher and principal, Doug Hutchinson has served as Councillor for two terms and is looking to make it three. Hutchinson mused that Council has achieved a lot over the past term, citing the future Rockwood Terrace project and his push for improvements to long-term care facilities, the expansion of natural gas and high-speed internet into the area. Hutchinson said that adjustments to blue-box service will continue to be made and he supports additional improvements, including composting.

"I'm a big proponent of West Grey services," said Hutchinson, naming hospitals, schools, firefighting. "I want to plan for growth, whether it be in Durham, Ayton, Neustadt, Elmwood or in the boundaries of Hanover and Markdale.

T. C. Paige Crewson (candidate for Councillor)

"If you don't like what's going on and you don't like anybody to vote for, you need to run," said Paige Crewson about her entry as a candidate for Council. Although she did not want that to reflect poorly on the current make-up of candidates, Crewson wanted to clarify that it was about providing choice for voters. Raised by a former Reeve and Warden for Middlesex County, she admired his integrity and sense of service to his community. "I'm running for Council because of the example he set for me."

Christine Bouius (candidate for Councillor)

A small business owner in West Grey, Christine Bouius touted her skills developed in the private sector. "If we want our community to do well, we need less taxes and less regulations," said Bouius. "I believe government should be limited and be centralized."

She advocated for small government and noted her love of West Grey and her desire for a thriving community.

Deidter Stadnyk (candidate for Councillor)

Discontented with a top-down style of governance seen at federal and provincial levels, Stadnyk advocated for good, honest representation locally. Young and energetic, he claimed to be ready for a political career, serving for eight years in the military as president of his student union while earning a Batchelor of Fine Arts. "I'm not afraid to make tough decisions or stand by those decisions," said Stadnyk.

He promised to listen to citizens and be their voice on Council. Addressing the audience, he asked, "What are your values? What are your concerns? And how do we bring that into the conversation?"

Geoffrey Shea (candidate for Councillor)

A Councillor for two terms, Geoffrey Shea said that he has learned a few things from being on Council. "One is that there's different scales of problems and issues that need to be addressed." On a small scale, he explained his involvement in the community gardens project as well as a bridge reconstruction in Bentick where Councillors worked with local residents to effect improvements to the safety of the roadway.

He expressed that on a larger scale, bridges in general need repair and growing policing costs need to be looked at carefully. "The biggest problems we have are climate change, attainable housing, doctor shortages and mental health and we've got to work with others to solve those."

Heather Wright (candidate for Councillor)

"I have a Scottish ancestry so you know what I'll be like with the money," quipped Heather Wright as she introduced herself. Involved with many groups over her lifetime, she served on the Parks, Recreation and Community Centre Board, volunteered with many local sports organizations, the Durham Legion, four Homecoming Committees. "I have the time. I have the energy and I think I have the knowledge," she added.

A former Human Resources professional, Wright advocated for keeping a local police force, proper waste management and planning for growth.

Brian Carr (candidate for Councillor)

A resident of Ayton, Brian Carr retired from the Canadian Armed Forces more than 18 years ago. He has been a volunteer for various local sports organizations and a member of the Normanby Minor Hockey League Board. He continued to explain his background and list his accomplishments as a volunteer firefighter and a coordinator for Special Olympics Ontario in the Hanover West Grey area. In 2008, Carr founded the Grey Bruce Special Hockey Foundation. His experience also extends to the Royal Canadian Legion in Durham.

Tom Hutchinson (candidate for Deputy Mayor)

Tom Hutchinson was looking to extend his current position as Deputy Mayor into a second term. Vice President of the West Grey Chamber of Commerce and executive board member of the West Grey Minor Hockey Association. Hutchinson claimed his knowledge and experience on many municipal committees is an asset to his campaign and during his tenure, he has supported many enhancements to the area, including bridges and culverts, bringing natural gas to Neustadt, applying better aggregate to rural roads, winter sidewalk maintenance in urban areas, the development of the new Rockwood Terrace and beautification of downtowns.

Hutchinson listed future infrastructure improvements, naming heritage bridges as a major concern moving forward. He promised to work to bring natural gas pipelines to Ayton and Elmwood and expressed his indignation for Council's motions to explore costing for Police Services. He stood firmly against any movement away from the current West Grey Police force.

"Butch" Neil Attersoll (candidate for Deputy Mayor)

With an extensive background in hotel and restaurant management and employment in the food services industry, later becoming a senior manager for a perfume and cosmetics manufacturers, Butch Attersoll extolled his broad experience across many business sectors and in many countries around the world. After his long career, he has retired and is ready to give back to the community.

Attersoll wants to retain the local police service, repair infrastructure and upgrade road maintenance. As a personal cause, improving youth opportunities within the community, attracting new business and tourism was top of mind for him.

Christine Robinson (candidate for  Mayor)

Christine Robinson is running for her second term as Mayor. With over 35 years of municipal government experience and several related accreditations, she hopes to continue the work of the last four years, claiming many improvements to infrastructure and significant partnerships to enhance community growth and vitality.

She pointed to natural gas expansion for Neustadt, investment in training and equipment for police and fire departments, implementation of a sidewalk snow-removal program, bridge and road maintenance, water system and sewage treatment upgrades. She also offered her wholehearted support for West grey Police Service, keeping taxes at a reasonable rate and providing an economic plan for the municipality.

Stephen Townsend (candidate for Mayor)

After being on Council for four years, Stephen Townsend feels he's ready to step up and be Mayor. He cited previous experience managing the Durham Medical Centre expansion project, coming in on-time and on-budget. Townsend presented himself as someone who gets things done and he promised to treat all West Grey communities equally. He also supported a review of police costs.

Townsend expressed that the role of Council is to give guidance and oversight and that it is the job of municipal staff to actually do the work and he vowed to provide leadership with this in mind.

Kevin Eccles (candidate for Mayor)

A former Mayor, serving for 12 years in that role and two years spent previously on Council, Kevin Eccles said that his skills are needed again at the Council table. He criticized Council of the last four years of having an overall lack of direction and stressed that change was needed. "I'm committed to bring leadership back to the Mayor's seat," said Eccles. Budgeting responsibly for future growth was an important focus in his message.

The entire meeting was recorded and is available to watch on Youtube.


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