It is evident from the results of last week’s election that Merrickville-Wolford residents wanted change. And that is exactly what they got. Residents were much more engaged in this election than four years ago. Fifty-four per cent of residents cast their vote this time, as compared to 45 per cent in 2014.
With over 40 per cent of the vote, Doug Struthers was elected as Merrickville-Wolford’s next mayor. Doug is no stranger to public service, having been mayor of Merrickville-Wolford from 2000-2014. Before stepping into the mayor’s chair, he also served on council for several years. “I knew how to convey a message that clearly resonated with the residents of Merrickville Wolford,” Doug says about his election. “The last couple of years have not been healthy for the residents.”
Doug says one of his priorities as mayor will be to make sure everyone is clear on the role they play in municipal governance. This means good decision making around the council table, and ensuring that staff understand those decisions and have the capacity and guidelines to deliver the message and services to residents. “I want residents to hear from us, not about us,” he says. “The mayor is the face of council, staff and the municipality,” Doug says. “Residents must feel comfortable that I am fulfilling that responsibility.”
As it is budget season, Doug says he will also be asking staff to bring a clear picture of the municipality’s financial statements to the table. He will be focussed on looking for economies within the budget, while still taking into consideration the level of service residents expect from the municipality. “We’re going to look at the need-to-dos vs. the nice-to-dos.”
As a leader, Doug feels he is all about collaboration. He wants to make sure that all views are heard around the council table. “Like the mayor, each person has an opinion and a vote,” he says. “It’s about seeking consensus, when required, and ensuring the collective decision is clear and concise, so it can be implemented and followed through.”
Doug is looking forward to working with the council that residents have elected. Bob Foster and Timothy Molloy have been elected the represent Merrickville, while Michael Cameron and Don Halpenny will be the representatives on council for Wolford ward. As the former Fire Chief, Bob Foster already has some experience working alongside council, and it will be interesting to see how he will adjust to the role of councillor, having already been on the bureaucratic side of things. Both Timothy Molloy and Don Halpenny have previous council experience, so it should take them less time to adjust to the policies and procedures of council. Michael Cameron is the newbie of the group; however, based on his enthusiasm at the Lion’s Club all candidates meeting, he will certainly do his best to serve the residents of Wolford well. “Looking at the council that has been elected, all residents are well represented,” Doug says.
Over the next month, the new members of council will have orientation sessions to attend that will bring them up to speed on municipal practices and what is going on in Merrickville-Wolford. The inaugural meeting of the new council will be on Monday, December 3, at 7:00pm in the council chambers.
Doug is very happy with the result of Monday’s election, and looks forward to serving as Merrickville’s mayor once again. “I look forward to playing a more active role in making Merrickville-Wolford grow and thrive,” he says.