Green gets second consecutive term as Wellington warden

There was little drama but several rounds of ap­plause and a couple of sensitive moments here on Dec. 7 as Mapleton Mayor John Green was acclaimed warden for the second year in a row.
He is the second person to hold the post for two consecu­tive years, and he was nominat­ed by Brad Whitcombe, who was the first to hold that seat two years running.
Whitcombe said it was with great pleasure he could nominate Green, who had opposed him for the job for 2006.
The council chamber was rocking with laughter after Green was sworn in by county solicitor Hugh Guthrie. He told Green he would hand him the traditional warden’s pin be­cause he didn’t want to stab him.
Green quipped, “You’re a lawyer. It’s not the first time you’ve stabbed somebody.”
The gallery erupted in laughter and gave the warden a standing ovation. Green later tried to apologize to Guthrie if he had offended, but Guthrie, too, was laughing.
When he outlined his hopes and plans for the coming year, Green again mentioned, as he had at the previous council meeting, that he would like to see the terms for warden extended to two years. He reiterated that when Whit­combe had sought a second consecutive term, Green was unaware of all of his motives.
Whitcombe, and now Green, have apparently swept aside the notion that coun­cillors will have a “turn” in the warden’s chair.
Green said that some heads of council, such as mayors, have terms of four years, with a budget of $10- to $15-million, while the warden oversees a budget in Wellington of $175-million, but is elected for a single year.
He thanked councillors for having faith in his abilities as warden and for returning him.
Green again made a plea for more decorum in the council chambers, and said the old tradi­tion of debating hard and leaving as friends is worth keeping.
“I’ve promoted that since I got here,’ he said. “At the end of the day, we should respect each other’s point of view, and then we respect each other.”
Whitcombe later told Green it was a pleasure to nominate him for the warden’s job, and that he appreciated Green’s remarks about two-year terms.
But, he said, “you will notice that I didn’t go for a third term.”
Green noted Whitcombe’s wife in the gallery and quipped, “The lady responsible for that is sitting over there.”
A number of area politicians attended the election meeting.
Mayor Karen Farbridge and a number of city councillors from Guelph were on hand.
Farbridge said she is “impressed with the energy and enthusiasm” she sees at county council. She said to Green, “You’ve shown a great deal of respect to my office, and I hope to reciprocate.”
Green also introduced neighbouring Grey County Warden Kevin Eccles, whom he noted he has known for many years.
Eccles noted he had been elected Grey County Warden only a few days earlier.
Eccles said he told his council that Grey had always had good relationships with neighbouring Bruce County, and “I thought it might be time we learned some of the quality things that Wellington County does.”
MP Michael Chong was saluted by Green, who called him a personal “hero” for his stand on renouncing a cabinet seat last year.
Chong said Green would “do a wonderful job. I look forward to working with you.”
He said he particularly looks forward to working to preserve natural heritage and agriculture.
MPP Liz Sandals noted her riding no longer takes in part of Wellington Count, but “you folks take care of social services for my constituents, so we will be working together.
(The county and city have a joint social services commit­tee.)
Green said of MPP Ted Arnott, “We go back an eternity.”
He noted Arnott had shifted ridings this term, and headed south of Mapleton, to “a better climate.”
Arnott congratulated him and said working together makes for outstanding leadership.
Green also introduced provincial cabinet minister and Perth Wellington MPP John Wilkinson, who said he was familiar with the Red Green show, and was now getting a taste of the John Green show.
Wilkinson, a Liberal, also brought greetings from Conservative MP Gary Schellenberger, and said, looking around the table, that they all had something in common. “I think it’s a wonderful idea we’ve all been re-elected.”
He said he was pleased with the Wellington family wel­come, and looks forward to working with county council.
Green concluded his remarks by noting that everyone attending the meeting that day had been presented with a red ribbon, in support of Canada’s troupes in Afghanistan.
Green, in a breaking voice, explained of Canadian soldiers, “Those people are doing a hell of a job for us, and I respect them with a red ribbon.”
Green said he has a friend who was there, who told him, “We’re not fighting, we’re building schools. When we think about what our soldiers are doing in those countries, we are builders, not fighters.”
Looking ahead
Green later said that there are a number of initiatives that he is looking forward to for 2008.
There are tenders to be read on Dec. 20 for the Drayton and Arthur libraries.
The Green Legacy was not named after the new warden. It was begun in 2004 to celebrate the county’s 175th anniversary, and consisted of planting 150,000 trees. The program has continued, with an additional 1,000 trees planted with the 150,000 each year.
“I look forward to continuing that,” Green said. He noted that his municipality, Mapleton, has the poorest tree cover in the county because it has so much farmland. He said it has about 3 per cent coverage, while 30 is the ideal.
As well, he noted the county must negotiate a new police services contract this coming year, and the county will also set aside money to partner with Guelph in a new courthouse.
Green said that there are plans for affordable housing the first built in some time, for Centre Wellington, and a day care centre for Mount Forest.
He added, “There are many projects with Guelph.
We have  good partnerships,” he concluded.