Lennox tops Yake in mayoral race; new faces on most area councils

Election turnout down from 2018 across northern Wellington

WELLINGTON COUNTY – There are two new mayors and some new faces on all three northern Wellington councils in the wake of the Oct. 24 municipal elections.

With incumbent Gregg Davidson and new mayor Mayor Dave Turton acclaimed in Mapleton and Minto respectively, the biggest news of the night in this part of the county came from Wellington North, where incumbent Mayor Andy Lennox topped longtime councillor Dan Yake by 171 votes.

Yake garnered 1,475 votes – not enough to unseat Lennox, who received 1,646 votes.

Wellington North had acclamations in Wards 3 (incumbent Lisa Hern) and Ward 4 (incumbent Steve McCabe).

In a three-way race for Wellington North’s Ward 1, Penny Renken received 382 votes, enough to defeat Shawn McLeod, who received 289 votes, and Jeanean Mousseau, with 165.

As expected, incumbent Sherry Burke cruised to victory in Ward 2.

Her opponent, Menno Klunder, belatedly tried to withdraw from the race and expressed a desire not to run, but his name still appeared on the ballot.

Burke garnered 843 votes, and 109 people cast their ballot for Klunder.

Reached by phone on election night at a restaurant in Arthur celebrating with friends and family, Lennox said he learned of the results at the municipal office. 

“I’m delighted to have the trust of the community placed in me to tackle another four years of the challenges ahead for us,” he said. 

Once the new term sets in, he intends to bring council together with staff and set a strategic direction for the next four years. 

“So, I anticipate we’re going through a process to make sure that we’re all in agreement, what the priorities are, because we’re far more successful if we’re all pulling in the same direction,” he said. 

“This is a team sport and I think we got to make sure that the team is doing everything we can.”

Lennox added, “I think we’ve got some talented players and I’m hoping that we can get the best from everybody to get the best results, that’s really where my focus is.” 

He said he felt good about his campaign, finding this one to be different from others. “Every campaign I find is different, so this one was no exception,” he said.  

He says the difference this time around wasn’t only because he was running against Yake for mayor. 

“I don’t think that’s the defining thing for sure,” he said, adding the job has become more demanding, especially with the loss of key staff and a pandemic to sort through.

“I think the first thing we need to do is get together as a group and look at what our collective priorities are,” Lennox said.  

He added he looks forward to welcoming Renken to the table and he thanked his family for their support and “the people of Wellington North for their continued trust in me.” 

 Renken said she isn’t sure what put her ahead. She got advice from Lennox on what to do next, taking an AMO course. And she has monitored some council meetings. 

“I was hopeful more than say ‘expecting it;’ I thought I worked hard for it and I certainly talked to a lot of people,” Renken said.  

“I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to play out,” she noted, adding, “I’m more than pleased, I don’t know what else to say right now. 

“My focus is going to be listen and learn,” she said, referencing the old adage about having two ears and one mouth. “I’ve got a lot to learn.” 

Renken said she enjoyed meeting and getting to know fellow candidates during the campaign.

 She also thanked constituents for opening doors to her and sharing their concerns and thoughts. 

“If I can help, that’s my goal, that’s what I’m here for,” she said. 

In Wellington North, 3,121 voters cast ballots, 36.8% of those eligible. That’s down from 42.7% of eligible voters in the last municipal election in 2018.


Acclaimed to a second term, Davidson will be joined on Mapleton council by incumbents Marlene Ottens and Michael Martin and newcomers Amanda Reid and Martin Tamlyn. 

Six people were vying for the four councillor positions in an at-large election format.

The final vote tallies in the township were: Ottens, 852; Martin, 793; Reid, 693; Tamlyn, 648; Bill Sipes, 515 and Erik Begg, 306.

On election night at the PMD arena, where a small crowd consisting mostly of candidates and family members awaited results, Davidson outlined some priorities for the coming term.

“We’re going to continue with our water and wastewater and certainly have to look at the housing and how we’re going to do that, and how to develop for the community in the next four years,” he told the Community News.

Davidson said council will “redo the development charges, to make sure we’re ready for the future, for the different (types of) construction we have to do down the road.”

Budgeting for current financial conditions will be a challenge council will have to face, the mayor stated.

“It’s absolutely going to be very difficult to hold line on taxes. We know that a lot of the costs that we are having are a lot higher than they were. Just looking at the normal consumer, everything is higher and the same things are impacting our municipalities and we have to be really careful how we do our budgets.”

Both new Mapleton councillors indicated learning the ins and outs of municipal government will be job one for them.

“The first part for me is making sure I get all the training I can to be the best councillor I can be and learning the ropes of where the last council left off and what the next four years might bring us,” said Reid shortly after the results were announced.

“I think growth and where our tax dollars are spent are really important to a lot of our constituents, so it’ll be understanding the growth that we’re being mandated to do and managing it efficiently.”

Tamlyn said his first priority is “really landing in the position and coming to grips with some of the procedural stuff and getting up to date on where the township is now on issues and decision-making processes.

“I’m really excited to represent the people of the township,” he added.

Only 26.3% of eligible voters cast ballots in Mapleton. That’s down from a 2018 turnout of 30.8% in 2018, when the election featured a contest for the mayor’s seat.

Of votes cast this time around, 61% came through an online voting system employed for the first time this year, while 39% came through the mail ballot system.


Minto’s five councillors, deputy mayor and mayor were all acclaimed.

With more than 20 years experience on Minto council, new Mayor Dave Turton, who has been deputy mayor for the past four years, knows there will be plenty on the new council’s plate once it convenes.

“We have many challenges: infrastructure renewal, getting the feds and province on board to help us out,” are among the priorities he listed in an interview with the Community News on election eve.

Turton said “inflation, the interest rate, food prices” and “tendering for jobs with all the skyrocketing prices – it’s going to be a challenge.”

Turton also noted hiring a top administrator for the town will also be a priority.

Former CAO Derrick Thompson left the municipality in March to become CAO of Bruce County and the Minto job has been split in the interim between Fire Chief Chris Harrow and deputy treasurer Mark Potter.

“In the meantime, we’re still trying to recover from COVID and plan for the future,” Turton noted.

Growth strategies, attainable housing, health care professional recruitment, the 2023 budget and ongoing work on flood mitigation for Harriston will also be priorities for the new council, Turton pointed out.

New councillor Paul Zimmerman said he is looking forward to making a contribution at the council table.

“I’ve always been town-minded … I’ve been volunteering on the fire department for 45 years, so this is nothing new,” he said in an Oct. 24 telephone interview.

“I just felt at this point in my life, close to working retirement, that I have the time that it’s going to take to look after things, and the desire. I just want to see the town prosper.”

Zimmerman expects infrastructure to be a focus for council.

“Water, sewers, roads, sidewalks … it just goes on and on. We have to find ways to get that done,” said Zimmerman.

“Ultimately, we don’t want to see our taxes go any higher … I think we pay enough. We can’t just keep jacking up, jacking up. It’s got to stop somewhere, so we need to find inventive ways to get around that.”

Deputy mayor Jean Anderson, incumbent councillors Ron Elliott, Judy Dirksen and Geoff Gunson and new councillor Ed Podniewicz round out Minto’s council slate.

Voter turnout in Minto was 27.7% for this election, with 1,805 of 6,511 eligible voters casting ballots. In the last municipal election in 2018, 52.2% of eligible Minto voters cast ballots.

County council

Incumbents are back for another term on Wellington County council in all northern Wellington jurisdictions.

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

Current Ward 2 (Mapleton) county councillor Earl Campbell received 817 votes to defeat candidate Frank Carere, who received 291 votes.

Incumbents were acclaimed in Ward 3 (Campbell Cork) and Ward 4 (Stephen O’Neill).

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 Community News 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.

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. I think that’s going to be our largest challenge,” he said.

School board

Robin Ross received 1,424 votes and will return as UGDSB trustee in northern Wellington, representing Minto, Mapleton and Wellington North.

Natalie Breau placed second with 1,289 votes, followed by Daniel Greer at 1,185 and Dan Kelly, 1,031.

“I am happy to have a chance to continue working as the trustee for north Wellington,” Ross stated in an Oct. 25 email. 

“I believe that UGDSB should build more connections to local community groups as well as municipal and county resources to bridge gaps we have here. That is the reason I ran again – growing the connections that have already been started.

 “From a broader perspective, I believe that an elected official should vote on any motion where they do not have a conflict of interest and that all votes should be open to the public.  That is not how things currently work for trustees and I am going to continue to advocate for those changes,” she stated.

The local Wellington Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) trustee was acclaimed. Andrew Finoro will again represent Centre Wellington, Mapleton, Minto and Wellington North.

David O’Hara will serve as trustee for the counties of Wellington, Middlesex, Perth and Huron, as well as the Region of Waterloo, on the French language public school board. He defeated Joseph Vandermeer.

At the French language Catholic board, Fergus resident Patrick O’Neil lost to incumbent trustee Genevieve Grenier in the race to represent Wellington and Dufferin counties as well as the City of Brampton and Town of Caledon. 

– With files from Jordan Snobelen