Dufferin News Melancthon Municipal Politics

Melancthon One Step Closer to Filling Council Vacancy

Melancthon Residents Question Candidates Seeking to Fill Vacant Council Seat

Melancthon Township held its All-Candidates Meeting on March 8, 2020, which was open for the public to ask the applicants questions. This event was held over Zoom, hosted by the Dufferin Board of Trade, and moderated by Doug Harkness. Those who attended the meeting were able to pose their questions using Zoom’s chat function.

Four candidates put their names forward to fill the vacant council seat. All were certified by the Township’s clerk to have met the criteria for being a councillor of Melancthon. The four applicants were Alan Wilson, Thomas Reid, Jim Turner, and James McLean.

Mayor Darren White opened the proceedings and thanked all of those involved. White also let residents know that they could contact council members to share their opinions of the applicants. Harkness followed this by explaining how the night would unfold and reading bios that the candidates submitted. The applicants had an additional five minutes to provide their opening remarks.

First up was Alan Wilson, a retired manager from Honda Canada who volunteers with the Dundalk Agricultural Society and Shelburne’s Shepherd’s Cupboard Food Bank. Over his thirty years in Melancthon, Wilson trained, raised, and raced horses. He now farms with his father and says he is looking at the Councillor position to ‘have a more active role in our community.’ Wilson said he had prepared himself for the role by familiarizing himself with prior meeting minutes and studying the Ontario Municipal Councillor’s Guide. He believes his experience would help provide more ‘strategic thinking’ on budgeting, planning, and economic development.

“My time at Honda involved valuable training in leadership, budget management, conflict resolution, as well as workplace safety and root-cause analysis. At Honda, I was required to develop and manage multi-million dollar budgets, as well as long- and short-term business plans. Most of this was accomplished by developing working relationships with my team members to reach our goals.”

Thomas Reid was the second candidate presented by Harkness to the public. Reid is a life-long resident of Dufferin and a member of Bryan’s Fuel field team, who says he is engaged in community activities. He also stated how he has a ‘keen interest in politics at all levels of government’ and has aspirations of a long political career.

“As a fifth generation Reid, family of Melancthon, I am proud of our history and who we are. If given this opportunity, I will do whatever it takes to help support our community and our way of life. What I bring to the table is integrity, commitment, and honesty. I promise that I will listen, I will have an open mind, I will ask questions, and given an understanding that [where] I do not know, I will find out the answer. I have the ability to research, and learn, and to figure it out.”

Jim Turner was the next applicant allowed to speak. Turner is an automotive technician and business owner in Melancthon. He explained that he was looking to get more involved in the community instead of ‘just sitting back and watching everything kind of happen and go by.’ 

“I’m very community-minded. I love to get involved. I like solving problems. I’ve been able to deal with a lot of issues and problems that normal people deal with, but also some that other people haven’t had to deal with,” described Turner. “I’ve always heard if you need something done, ask a busy person, because they seem to find a way and a situation to get it done.”

James McLean was the last candidate to speak before the public posed their questions. McLean completed a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and has worked on files that ‘span the political policy spectrum, from energy and education, to finance, technology, and infrastructure.’ He has worked with the Government of Ontario, the City of Toronto, and the Region of Peel. He has experience managing a $200 million budget and led efforts to create emergency programs for first responders during COVID-19. Furthermore, he signed up as a volunteer firefighter in January.

McLean believed three things distinguished him from the other candidates and would allow him to bring a ‘unique voice to council.’ The first was that he knew the area very well and the issues that the Township faced. 

“Things like ensuring families and those working from home have access to high speed internet, finding ways to better support and bring attention to our farmers, attracting investment into our community, and putting a plan in place that ensures that we’re at the table when the province and the federal government come up with new rules that impact our community. I know this community and I believe that I have the skills and experience to help them work through these issues.”

His second point was that he would represent a younger generation becoming more prevalent in the community. The last point he cited was his experience working with different government levels and how he believed that he would benefit the Township by knowing how ‘to get federal and provincial attention,’ which would be essential for obtaining government funding. McLean also mentioned his experience as a student working with the Dufferin County Roads Department.

Harkness thanked candidates for staying within their allotted five minutes and then moved onto the question period. 

The public posed the following questions:

  • How do you balance supporting small business and development with maintaining the calm, quiet, rural beauty of the community?
  • Are you familiar with the Melancthon Township Official Plan?
  • There are some strong personalities on Council; how will you ensure that your, and the people of Melancthon’s, perspectives are heard in that environment.
  • I’m sure you are all aware of the pay raise council gave themselves, what is your opinion regarding this decision?
  • Have you had involvement in any council meetings during the current term? If so, in what manner?
  • Are you familiar with the Hornings Mills Hall, and what do you see of the future of the Hall for Melancthon?
  • Are you familiar with the road issues and the road management plan?

One can see the full video of the All-Candidates meeting on the Dufferin Board of Trade YouTube channel, with candidates’ answers to questions along with their closing remarks.

At 7 pm on Thursday, March 18, 2021, Melancthon Council is scheduled to meet to make their inquiries of the candidates. All members of Council will be permitted to ask each candidate two questions. A subsequent meeting will take place on Monday, March 22, for Council to deliberate on who they will appoint to the vacant seat for the term’s remainder. Mayor Darren White explained that if Council cannot agree on one person, they would perform a series of votes until it was clear which candidate was most favoured by the majority.

Reference Links – Melancthon Residents Question Candidates for Council Vacancy

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