By Karen Wolfe

As 2022 will include at least two separate elections this year, we felt it would be interesting to explore how changes to the group currently running the show at the Town might develop during the next municipal election. On October 24, the residents of Georgina will be heading to the polls to decide their next council and despite the fact that the election doesn’t begin until the start of May, let’s take a peek at how things might play out.

Mayor & Regional Councillor:
Although an article could be written entirely on guesses as to how these two races will play out, we’re grouping them for a specific reason. Both Margaret Quirk and Rob Grossi have history and lots of it. Spanning decades, these two have each had the top job multiple times, and the disrespecting tone towards each other is often palpable during council meetings.
If each decides to run in their current positions and not engage in the other races, they are likely to walk through to the next round. But our guess is that they don’t want to sit on the same bench for another term, so expect to see them go head-to-head or support candidates running against the other. It will be interesting to see who else decides it’s time for a change and throws their name into the hat as there is talk around Town that it might be time for both to take a break. Will an otherwise unknown show up to give either a serious run, or will other council members decide it’s time to step up? These races will be fun to watch once the line-up of contenders has been determined. We would expect that platforms will revolve mainly around economic development, taxes with regional representation, health measures during the pandemic, town staffing levels, a new civic centre and discussions of UYSS (Upper York Sewage Solution) and other environmental concerns to surface during these campaigns.


Ward 1:
After losing in the 2017 by-election, Mike Waddington returned in 2018 to unseat the incumbent candidate and hit the ground running. A popular councillor with a social media presence only topped by the Mayor, it’s tough to envision a relative unknown besting this candidate without considerable backing. He always seems prepared to speak at meetings, frequently leads the discussion during budget deliberations and isn’t afraid to buck the trend of council and challenge the status quo. Topics to come up during the election will likely be the amount of growth in this ward, construction of town facilities (MURC), affordable housing and economic development along both sides of Woodbine. Despite the fact that he’s likely ruffled some feathers with town staff who aren’t used to being challenged, our guess is acclimation unless someone is looking for a real uphill battle. That is, of course, unless Mr. Waddington has an eye on another seat.

Ward 2:
Acclaimed in 2018, Dan Fellini and his business have been a staple in Uptown Keswick for years. Despite the pandemic throwing most events to the wind, Mr. Fellini infrequently attended events to begin with, and his absence at business openings has not gone unnoticed. Level-headed and pleasant to talk with, his contributions to council meetings have sadly diminished to the point of generally making “Thank you to staff” or “I agree with my fellow members of council” comments during this term. His acclimation in 2018 could imply strong support. Still, with how much the business community in this ward has struggled with the Town in the past, and their desire to have voices heard, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see someone stepping up for change as we expect Mr. Fellini to bow out this year. We anticipate conversations during the election to revolve around the uptown Keswick BIA, road maintenance, the need for senior’s residences and the Maskinonge River.


Ward 3:
Also acclaimed in the previous election, Dave Neeson has been a strong voice for environmental concerns to his constituency. Whether by design or happenstance, this has granted Neeson significant support from environmental groups historically opposed to development (MLE/Bypass). Through his efforts and those of the groups he’s engaged with, a huge win occurred for the area when our local MPP declared that Maple Lake Estates would essentially be cancelled and the grounds protected. Although supported by the rest of council and staff, Mr. Neeson rightfully deserves a feather in his cap for that one. Hottest topics for this ward will likely be short-term rentals, the Lakeshore Drive jurisdiction fiasco and Willow Beach. A knowledgeable councillor with the backing of interest groups, Mr. Neeson should have an easy time walking away with a win in this ward if someone steps up as a challenger. Similar to the Ward 1 prediction, we believe his eye could be on another seat…regional councillor maybe… and rumours are swirling that Margaret Quirk might be moulding him as a possible successor.


Ward 4:
After surviving a close reelection in 2018, we think the seat currently held by Frank Sebo is likely going to be the most interesting one to watch. Having the distinct honour of being the only member of council to get sworn at during a council meeting by a constituent, Mr. Sebo is known for “not making friends.” Since his first term on council, Mr. Sebo has adamantly pushed for better boat access to the Black River and improvements along High Street in Sutton… it should be noted that one is where his house is and the other where his family business is located. Dale Kerr-Genge, a well-known community member, has declared she will take a run at the ward seat, and some groups in the area are publicly backing her. But if many more than two candidates sign up, we could witness the same vote-splitting that occurred in 2018. Expect to hear discussions related to Mossington Wharf, the realignment of the BIAs, a rejuvenation of the downtown areas and, as always, De La Salle Park.


Ward 5:
The race for Ward 5 will likely end up being between some familiar faces, but we have doubts that Dave Harding will be one of them. Mr. Harding has tried to do an admirable job representing Ward 5, but his time on council is at an end, and we’re predicting that he will step aside this year. The race in this ward will likely revolve around Pefferlaw’s place within Georgina and the feeling that it is not part of the Georgina conversation, all while heated discussions have occurred concerning public water taps and the debacle surrounding the fire hall and dam. At this point, only one person has publically announced their intention to run in Ward 5 (Lee Dale). However, we wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the vocal members of this community step up if there isn’t an incumbent to challenge. PAR will likely play a factor in this race if their members are motivated enough to engage, and it’ll be interesting to see if Mr. Harding decides to endorse someone.

Monday, May 2, is the first day for candidates to file nomination papers with the Town clerk. At this point, a candidate can begin raising and spending money on their campaign. The deadline for candidates to file a nomination, withdraw a nomination or change office is Friday, August 19 at 2:00 p.m.

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