Incumbents win the day; eight county councillors will return for new term

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Of the nine county councillors elected by voters, eight will be returning for the 2022-26 term.

There were only five seats up for grabs, with acclamations in Ward 3 (Campbell Cork), Ward 4 (Stephen O’Neill), Ward 7 (Matthew Bulmer) and Ward 9 (Jeff Duncan).

Of the group, just Bulmer, currently a Puslinch Township councillor, is new to county council.

Ward 1

In Ward 1, which includes all of Minto, incumbent David Anderson handily defeated challenger Bert Beilke by a margin of 1,588-178 votes.

Anderson, who will be entering his third consecutive term on county council and fourth overall (he served on county council as mayor of Minto from 2006 to 2010), is glad to see this council will have some institutional memory.

“The great thing about it is almost all the county councillors that ran got back in,” he told the Advertiser on Oct. 25.

Anderson’s take from that is, “The people of Wellington County are pretty happy with Wellington councillors, or there would have been a bigger change.

“And we’re going to need that and our county council now works really well together.”

Anderson says housing affordability will be a major issue in the coming term.

“A lot of people … in our community that are working for what we call an average wage still cannot afford to buy houses in the Town of Minto and the County of Wellington … and I heard that more than once when I was knocking on doors.”

Anderson, who said he would like to continue his work on the county’s social services committee, noted cutting wait times for mental health and addiction services is a key concern.

“To get people into a program is a six-to-nine-month wait. That’s going to be a big challenge … I would like to try to narrow that gap so that people can get seen and get help quicker,” he said.

Ward 2

Current Ward 2 (Mapleton) county councillor Earl Campbell received 817 votes.

That was more than enough to defeat fellow candidate Frank Carere, who received 291 votes.

Campbell said inflation is going to present a major challenge to the next council.

“With what we’re going through right now the next couple of budgets are going to be tough in terms of toeing the line on the tax increases,” he said.

“I think that’s going to be our largest challenge.”

Ward 5

In Ward 5 (portion of Centre Wellington), incumbent Mary Lloyd won over Randy Vaine.

Lloyd received 3,089 votes, while Vaine received 1,027.

“I was worried,” Lloyd said at a celebration at the Brewhouse on the Grand in Fergus on Oct. 24.

“It’s important to exercise your vote and I’m thankful they chose me.

“There are some projects on the go I’d like to be a part of in the future.”

Ward 6

In Ward 6 (portion of Centre Wellington), 1,411 residents cast their vote for Melanie Lang.

That was not enough to defeat incumbent Diane Ballantyne, who received 1,917 votes and will return to county council.

“I’m proud of my campaign and pleased to be able to continue my work at county council,” Ballantyne said on Oct. 24, just after the results were released.

“It was a lot of hard work but it was worth it in the end.”

Ward 8

In Ward 8 (most of Guelph/Eramosa) incumbent Doug Breen (1,545 votes) handily defeated challenger Melanie Flake (692 votes).

“I’m thrilled to be back at it,” Breen said in a phone interview on Oct. 25.

Breen said he has spent 21 years in local government – the last two terms of that on county council, “and I’ve loved every second of it.

“And I think I’m getting good at it. I’m pleased the electorate felt the same way.”