Huron East Mayor bids farewell to Councillors Steffler, Onn
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
At its Nov. 1 meeting, Huron East Council said goodbye to two councillors who chose not to seek re-election in the Oct. 24 municipal election: Zoellyn Onn in the Brussels Ward and Joe Steffler in the Seaforth Ward.
Mayor Bernie MacLellan took a minute at the beginning of the meeting to honour both councillors and thank them for their years of service.
MacLellan said he has known Steffler since MacLellan was first elected as Huron East’s inaugural deputy-mayor, when Joe’s wife Lin (who passed away in 2021) was the municipality’s inaugural mayor. Between Steffler’s time as a councillor and the municipality’s deputy-mayor, the Seaforth Public Utilities Commission and his career with the Huron County Public Works Department, MacLellan said Steffler has served his community in one capacity or another for nearly 70 years, so he didn’t begrudge him retiring. He did say, however, that he would miss him, despite the fact that the pair didn’t always agree on the issues of the day.
While Onn had only been a councillor for the past four years, MacLellan said she had made a tremendous impact on the Brussels community. MacLellan said he could hardly think of another councillor who had accomplished so much in their community in such a short period of time.
He said when he heard that Onn had withdrawn her name from this year’s election, with all due respect to those who let their names stand, he called her because he was upset with her and had hoped she would run again.
MacLellan also thanked Onn for the active role she took in this year’s election, despite, ultimately, not running again. He said she took the time to engage with voters on social media and correct some disinformation that had been circulating regarding the mayor’s race and that service for the good of the municipality was greatly appreciated. He said she corrected a number of falsehoods in a very professional way without getting personal and just sticking to the facts and he thanked her for that.
MacLellan also said that he planned to retire from municipal politics soon and is not planning on running again in 2026.
He said that many of the same faces have graced the council table for the first two decades after municipal amalgamation and he thought that was necessary to some degree, but that the time is coming for some “new blood” with council and for the next generation to step into representation.