Linton address direction of council at inaugural meeting

ELORA – The Centre Wellington council chamber was packed on Dec. 3 for the inaugural ceremony to induct council-elect members to the table.

Mayor Kelly Linton was pleased with the turnout.

“It’s great to see family and friends and lots of people from the community,” he said.

Municipal clerk Kerri O’Kane introduced the members of the new council: Mayor Kelly Linton and councillors Ian MacRae, Ward 1; Kirk McElwain, Ward 2; Bob Foster, Ward 3; Neil Dunsmore, Ward 4; Stephen Kitras (absent), Ward 5; and Stephen VanLeeuwen, Ward 6.

Starting his inaugural address, Mayor Linton said “I have just a quick 35-minute speech here.”

Linton thanked everyone who took the time to attend the council.

“Having you here to attend this event is really important to all of us.”

Linton also took time to publicly recognize the contributions made by previous members of Centre Wellington council.

“I know that public service can be a thankless job at times, so on behalf of the current council and citizens of Centre Wellington, thank you to the former members of council for the years of leadership and commitment.”

Shifting his attention to the new council, Linton welcomed back councillors Kitras, McElwain and VanLeeuwen.

He then welcomed the three new councillors: MacRae, Foster and Dunsmore.

“I think we’re going to have a great team.”

The mayor said each councillor will play an important role “working together for the best interests of the community.”

“Democracy is not always as neat and tidy as we’d like it to be. In fact, things can get a bit messy at times,” Linton said.

“I know that we will disagree with each other over the course of the next four years. It is not only okay, it is necessary.”

Linton explained, “we must embrace the differences we have because it is those differences which make us stronger as a team.

“Only through honest dialogue and passionate debate that good decisions are made and effective teamwork is realized.

“As mayor, you have my promise that as councillors you will have every opportunity to present your thoughts, opinions and to represent your citizens and businesses.

“However,” Linton added, “we need to respect each other and we need to respect our staff. To be blunt, we need to be better at this, this term of council, than we have in the past four years.”

To township staff, the mayor said, “I am convinced we have really good people working for the township.”

Linton also looked forward to the next four years.

He said following orientation and team building events, work will begin on establishing strategic priorities for the term ahead.

“Like we did in 2015, we are establishing our strategic action plan that will clearly set out our priorities for the next four years.

“That is how you do government the right way – with accountability for actions taken.

“We are going to do our best to ensure Centre Wellington residents know how we are spending their tax dollars.”

He added, “you notice I didn’t say we are always going to make people happy.

“At the end of the day, as leaders, we need to lead.

“This is not a popularity contest,” Linton stated. “As members of council, sometimes you have to make unpopular decisions.”

He said the best organizations do three things:

– they establish strategic priorities and have a roadmap as to how they are spending tax dollars;

– they connect with their citizens and businesses and employ a number of communcation methods to make it as easy as possible for as many as possible, to connect to their local government; and,

– they stay the course.

Linton continued, “Once we have a strategic roadmap and widespread communication – we need to be able to stay the course and say ‘no’ when necessary. We live in a great community and I am convinced we have the team here today, with the skills and abilities to make Centre Wellington even better.

“I am humbled and honoured to be reelected by the people of Centre Wellington and to be your mayor for the next four years.”