Democracy in action at the Almonte Old Town Hall

by Edith Cody-Rice 

David Hinks addresses councillors and the public

Or as close as you are going to get to democracy given that council opted to appoint a deputy mayor rather than hold a by-election. Interviews for the position of Deputy Mayor drew a full house of interested residents on Monday night to hear the six applicants make their case for the position. Councillors will no doubt hear an earful from constituents between now and Thursday evening when the final selection is made.

The necessity of choosing a deputy mayor rose out of the death of the recently elected John Levi in Florida this winter. At a council meeting on February 19th, council opted in a vote of 4-2 to appoint a replacement rather than hold an expensive by-election. Vying for the position are  David Hinks, Rickey Minnille, Steve Maynard, Jane Torrance, Paul Watters,  and Philip Wood

The town does have a policy in place for filling vacancies by appointment and in accordance with that policy, the six applicants for the position were each given 15 minutes to answer the following five questions:

  1. Please address why you would like to be a Member of Council and elaborate on your long and short term visions for the Municipality of Mississippi Mills. 
  2. What do you see as the immediate challenges facing the Municipality and Lanark County and what are your suggestions as to how to address them?   
  3. One of the roles of Council is to maintain the financial integrity of the Municipality.  How does your experience lend itself to fulfilling this responsibility?   
  4. Council may make decisions that not all members of the public agree with. Outline how you would address an unhappy citizen and explain how your experiences have equipped you to deal with these types of situations. Please include your thoughts on social media. 
  5. The position of Deputy Mayor acts as the Mayor in his/her absence. Can you highlight what qualities, attributes and experience you have that demonstrate consensus building and leadership? 

These questions and only these questions were posed by acting CAO Shawna Stone to the candidates. The candidates were also offered the opportunity to put forward a personal statement in writing prior to the evening and four, David Hinks, Jane Torrance, Paul Watters and Philip Wood, all submitted statement which are available here.Candidates Rickey Minnille and Steve Maynard did not submit personal statements in advance of the meeting.

All of the candidates had obviously prepared well for the event and the main themes of the presentations were the need for improved communication with the public, the importance of healing community divisions, infrastructure investment, prudent finances and accountability. Each highlighted what he or she felt were qualifications  including financial management experience, experience dealing with people and collegial outlooks and what he or she  considered to be pressing issues. Each was able to address some specific elements of governance. Philip Wood did not appear in person as he is out of the country. Ken Kicksee read his answers to the five questions

As all of the candidates have had experience participating in or heading organizations, they have track records that can be referenced, no doubt with a google search. The presentations were very high level. Specifics about social media, in particular, seemed to elude most of them. Jane Torrance noted that she holds a certificate in social media.

All of the candidates received appreciative and even enthusiastic applause. The final selection will be made on Thursday evening at the Old Town Hall starting at 6 p.m. Once again, the public are welcome.