Huron East Council readies for the four-year term ahead
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Huron East Council held its inaugural meeting on Nov. 15 in Seaforth, setting the course for the next four years in the municipality.
Sherrie Oliver, a marriage officiant as well as a Huron East employee, was the guest speaker, wishing returning Mayor Bernie MacLellan and the rest of council the best in the four years ahead.
She said they would have to make tough decisions, but that they would be charged with doing their best in representing Huron East. Oliver also thanked the representatives for putting their names forward and wanting to govern the municipality, knowing the impact their decisions would have not just immediately, but for years to come.
She ended her address with a quote from noted industrialist Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.”
In his first mayoral address of the new term, MacLellan reiterated that this would be his final term as mayor of Huron East and that he did not intend to run again in 2026. He said he didn’t know where to start, other than to profoundly thank his fellow councillors.
He thanked council members for working on his behalf behind the scenes to help him win re-election and said it’s truly an honour to continue to serve the residents of Huron East. He said he hopes he and the councils he’s been a part of have done a good job and that he’ll always be proud of his work as an elected official.
He said serving the community as a municipal politician is the kind of thing that really gets inside your soul and, when you’ve done it for so long, it becomes a big part of who you are.
MacLellan then praised the municipal staff and the great work they do, saying that, while councillors are often the public face of work being done, it is the employees who do the work and they don’t often get the recognition they deserve.
Several councillors then spoke about their re-election or acclamation.
Brussels Ward Councillor Justin Morrison, who was chosen to replace John Lowe after he resigned his position late in the last term, said he wished there had been an election in his ward. After being appointed in the previous term and acclaimed in this term, there is no way to tell if the people of Brussels think he’s doing a good job, but that he’ll continue to do it to the best of his ability.
Dianne Diehl, who was re-elected in the Grey Ward alongside Alvin McLellan, agreed with the mayor’s statement, saying that the job of being a councillor has certainly gotten into her soul, adding that she knows she’ll never make everyone happy, but that she’ll work to do her best over the next four years.
Councillor Gloria Wilbee said she was also honoured to be acclaimed to another term. She said all of council should be proud of representing their community because of the work that goes into being involved at such a hands-on level. She then shared an excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 “Citizenship in a Republic” speech, specifically the passage often referred to as “The Man in the Arena”.
New Councillor John Steffler, who was acclaimed in the Seaforth Ward, filling the chair his father sat in for the previous term, said he’s very excited for the opportunity to serve residents in this way. He said he has a lot of learning to do, but that being at the council table is the right place to learn.
Long-time Tuckersmith Ward Councillor Larry McGrath said this too would be his final term and that it was time for some younger residents of the municipality to fill some council seats. He added that he looked forward to serving the municipality in the coming four years and not just his home ward of Tuckersmith.
Acclaimed Tuckersmith Ward Councillor Ray Chartrand said he had found great fulfillment in serving Huron East as a politician since moving to the community 16 years ago with his wife. First he began as a citizen member of the Seaforth Recreation Committee before attending council meetings and eventually running for council.
Chartrand added that being a councillor has become his new job and his new passion in life.
Seaforth Ward Councillor Bob Fisher said he was again honoured to be acclaimed to return to council for a fifth term, adding that as a long-time Huron East resident, he wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
Brenda Dalton from the McKillop Ward, said she wants to ensure that she’s making a positive change in the coming years and making the municipality a great place to live for generations to come and she had many reasons for having that goal.
Alvin McLellan, who was re-elected in the Grey Ward and then elected by council as deputy-mayor later in the meeting, said he has been serving since he was a member of the Brussels Recreation Board in the late 1980s and he’s blinked an eye and gotten to where he is today. He said it has been a rewarding job and he’s happy to continue a familial legacy of McLellans who have been local politicians.
Jeff Newell, a newcomer acclaimed in the Brussels Ward, said that he has enjoyed his time living in Huron East since moving to the community 18 years ago to raise a family and he hopes to do some good in the municipality as a councillor.