While Woolwich council is on hiatus during the run-up to the election Oct. 25, it’s business as usual for councillors in Wellesley Township. All five members were acclaimed to office, and will keep going right through the Dec. 6 inauguration of a “new” council session.
There was some confusion at the last council meeting as to whether or not council would have to disband, despite the fact that all four councillors – Shelley Wagner in Ward 1, Herb Neher in Ward 2, Jim Olender in Ward 3, and Paul Herrgott in Ward 4 –along with Mayor Ross Kelterborn will be returning for another term in office.
“There’s no lame-duck [council],” confirmed Susan Duke, the CAO and Clerk for Wellesley Township. A lame-duck council refers to when 75 per cent of a sitting council does not return to office after an election.
During that time, no new laws or decision can be passed to prevent the current council from pre-determining the course of the new council.
“If that percentage is met, then you cannot make decisions that bind future council until the time the (incoming) council is inaugurated. But that’s clearly not our case, since 100 per cent are returning. So it’s business as usual.”
Wellesley residents might remember this occurring in the last municipal election, when all four councillors were replaced. Duke said that the council had to disband until the new group could be inaugurated.
“We are fortunate we will not find ourselves in that position (this year),” she noted.
Kelterborn said he is pleased the same council will be reconvening when the new term begins in December.
“I feel it’s quite a privilege to be acclaimed,” said Kelterborn. “This particular council works together so well as a group. I have been promoting a team approach, not only with council but with staff also, and I feel that that is working very well.”
This council, he said, has spent the past four years trying to spend within their means, but his first order of business in the new term will be to rebuild the township’s financial reserves, which were spent during the recession to pay for projects for which Wellesley received provincial and federal stimulus grants from the government.
“We were lucky with regards to the stimulus money. It was a chance for us to access that kind of funding, and we were lucky enough to have a fair bit of reserve set aside,” he explained, but added that “we will have to possibly restrain ourselves,” once the stimulus money dries up.
Very little money, however, has been saved by having all five members of council return for another four years instead of holding a full election. Duke said that the idea there is no election in Wellesley this year is a misnomer, because there is still a race for Waterloo Region Chair, as well as school board trustees.
Over the past four years, the township has set aside funds for use during the election, and this year it was about $30,000. The township is saving some money by opening fewer polls and having fewer staff working on the election, but that’s it.
“All the training had to be done up front, all of the preparations until the nomination date had to be done, everything had to be worked out as if we were holding an election. It wasn’t until the close of nominations that we actually found out we would not be holding an election.”
There will be a central polling station at the Wellesley Community Centre, along with another poll at the Pond View Retirement Village so that voting is more available to senior residents in the area.
In the end, having an acclaimed council may be in the best interest of the township, said Duke. From a consistency standpoint, by not having to put the current council on hold until after the election will help them get more accomplished and to carry on with business as usual.
Kelterborn agrees, noting he hopes that because all five members of council were acclaimed that means the residents of Wellesley are happy with the job they have done, and the progress that has occurred since the last election.
“I’ve enjoyed the last four years, working with the people I deal with at the council level, the staff level, and the constituents who I feel are very understandable. It’s been a very enjoyable time for me.”