Alvin McLellan elected Huron East Deputy-Mayor by council
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Long-time Grey Ward Councillor Alvin McLellan has been chosen as Huron East’s deputy-mayor and the municipality’s second representative on Huron County Council.
McLellan was one of three to put their name forward on Tuesday night at Huron East Council’s inaugural meeting. Incumbent Deputy-Mayor and acclaimed Seaforth Ward Councillor Bob Fisher and McLellan nominated each other for the position, while Mayor Bernie MacLellan nominated Tuckersmith Ward Councillor Ray Chartrand.
The three-man race was reminiscent of the 2018 deputy-mayor election, which Fisher eventually won, defeating Chartrand and McLellan.
Fisher spoke first, saying he has been proud to serve as Huron East deputy-mayor over the past four years, feeling he had accomplished a lot both at the municipal and county levels.
He said he spent his term routinely checking in with councillors to hear about needs and concerns in their wards, as well as with the local Family Health Team and food bank for the same reasons.
During his time as a Huron County councillor, Fisher said, he has created a good rapport with the rest of council and members of the county’s senior management team, while focusing on green energy, accessibility and keeping taxes manageable, the same priorities he had at the municipal level.
Fisher also said there was a deeper inspiration for running, echoing comments he made four years ago. He said he wanted to show those without disabilities that, with a little help, a blind person could serve as a Huron County councillor and, as well, show those with disabilities that, with a little help and a lot of gumption, they too could achieve more than they ever thought they could.
McLellan spoke next, asking his fellow councillors to keep an open mind in the vote ahead and consider him as an option. He praised Fisher for the job he’s done for Huron East in the past four years and said he hoped to bring a more rural perspective to the deputy-mayor position and, as a result, Huron County Council.
He identified a handful of issues he hoped to tackle in the coming term, such as the cost of farm drainage projects, speeding in small villages and hamlets and drivers not adhering to yield signs on rural roads.
He also listed a number of his accomplishments, saying he had been supportive of the renovation and expansion of the Brussels, Morris and Grey Community Centre from the beginning and has been a vocal proponent for the Brussels subdivision development.
McLellan also said he wants to champion the involvement of local conservation authorities to preserve local wetlands at a time when the provincial government is seeking to roll that authority back. He also suggested holding council meetings in locations other than Seaforth, complete with a social hour, in the hopes of bringing more people into the fold, spreading the news of what Huron East Council is accomplishing and perhaps interesting a new generation of potential councillors along the way.
On a lighter note, McLellan cited the misinformation and conspiracy theories that had infected recent elections, both municipally in Huron County and south of the border in the U.S., saying he has found himself involved in one, as his grandchildren are convinced that Bigfoot lives in the corn field behind McLellan’s house. The group has been known to go hunting for the beast with flashlights at night, so he admitted to being guilty as charged on that front.
Chartrand said he wanted to thank Fisher for the work he’s done over the past four years, saying that he wanted to aspire to be part of Huron County Council and learn more at this point of his political career. He heralded his communication skills and social media knowledge, saying he is a team player who has always acted respectfully with his fellow councillors and honoured council’s decisions, even if he personally disagreed with them.
The 11 members of council then voted, after an amendment was requested by Chartrand, asking that councillors vote by paper ballot, rather than by a show of hands, as had been proposed. His reasoning was harmony among councillors, not wanting grudges to be held one way or another depending on how a councillor voted. Council voted with Chartrand, allowing for the paper ballot vote to go forward.
Only one vote was needed, as McLellan earned a clear majority of six on the first three-way vote. Three people voted for Chartrand and two voted for Fisher.