by Shaun McLaughlin

first published at Shaun on Council

At a special Council meeting May 23, we managed, through a maze of back-peddling and convoluted debate, to agree on a plan to seek public input into a possible change of Council composition. That meeting saw three previous resolutions rescinded—that in itself is mind-boggling because it takes a two-thirds majority (8 of 11) to achieve, and getting eight votes for anything is rare.

Sometime in September, the Town will hold three public meetings (Clayton, Almonte, Pakenham) to present the five options for Council composition. The options will be:

  • Keep the current eleven member arrangement; that is, no change.
  • A ten-member Council with a mayor, elected deputy mayor, and eight councillors (Almonte 3, Ramsay 3, Pakenham 2).
  • A nine-member Council with a mayor, elected deputy mayor, and seven councillors (Almonte 3, Ramsay 3, Pakenham 1).
  • A nine-member Council with a mayor and eight councillors (Almonte 3, Ramsay 3, Pakenham 2), where a deputy-mayor equivalent is appointed by Council.
  • A seven-member Council with a mayor, elected deputy mayor, and five councillors (Almonte 2, Ramsay 2, Pakenham 1)

Three previous decisions needed to be reconsidered (rescinded) to arrive at this plan.

  • In October 2011, Council defeated a motion by the mayor to reduce Council to seven (same model as above) for the 2014 election. (I voted against it because I wanted more options presented to the public.) Council reversed that decision in order to present the seven-member option to the public.
  • In March 2013, Council agreed to present six new composition options, each which included an elected deputy mayor. Council reversed that decision to allow for an appointed deputy mayor for one of the nine-member composition options.
  • In April 2013, Council defeated a plan to have three public meetings on Council composition. Council reversed that decision and reinstated the three-meeting plan.

My first choice is the ten-member option. It adds a democratically selected deputy-mayor and retains enough members on Council to provide depth of experience and people to sit on our many subcommittees. My second choice is seven.

I dislike both nine-member options: one because it reduces the relative weight of the Pakenham vote too much (Almonte 3, Ramsay 3, Pakenham 1); and the other because it does not include an elected deputy mayor. I strongly believe people should vote for the second person who represents them at the Lanark County Council table.