Algonquin Hills push deputy mayor to the top

Algonquin Hills voters elevated their deputy mayor to the town council’s big chair.

Liz Danielsen, the township’s deputy mayor through the last four years, was chosen to be the next mayor with 1,204 voters in the Oct. 24 municipal election.

She was selected to replace Carol Moffatt, who didn’t run in the election, by a margin of 140 ballots over Mike Lang.

Lang, the other candidate in the two-horse race for the top spot, garnered 1,064 votes.

The town’s deputy mayor will be elected during the first council meeting by councillors from among themselves.

Incumbents Julia Shortreed and Jennifer Dailloux were earlier acclaimed to their seats to represent Wards 1 and 3 respectively.

The other Algonquin Hills race on the night was among four hopefuls vying for two seats to stand for the township’s Ward 2. Sabrina Richards earned 930 votes and incumbent Lisa Barry got 798 votes to each win a seat.

To round out the contest for Ward 2, Napier Simpson fell short with 561 votes and Amber Meirik got 454 ballots marked in her favour.

Danielsen is grateful for the residents who placed their trust in her and she’s looking forward to the new term “doing all kinds of good things,” she said.

“I’m extremely grateful to the people who supported me and helped me get elected.”

She was quick to congratulate the other candidates in the political contest.

For the most part, the Algonquin Highlands council will look the same, except for Richards’ new voice at the table.

“I think she’ll be a good addition to the group,” Danielsen said. “I’m looking forward to getting started.”

Council will have an orientation over the next few weeks and then they’ll meet to discuss what possible priorities they’ll set teeth into.

“We’ll talk about our goals and priorities and projects that staff have got scheduled based on our asset management plan,” Danielsen said. “We need to talk about what we see as our top priorities.”

Whatever those priorities come to be, they’ll be balanced against the municipal purse during discussions to ink the 2023 budget.

“We don’t want to have any great increases in taxation,” she said. “So we have to be really careful. I think we’ll have to wait and see what council as a whole decides their priorities are.”

For her part, Richards has an idea of one item she’d like to see on council’s to-do list: Work toward addressing the dearth of housing.

During the campaign, Richards said she had been a cottager her whole life on Little Hawk Lake until she and her husband bought a marina and moved permanently to Algonquin Highlands in 2019.

The biggest plank in her campaign platform was housing. She said it’s the town’s and, indeed, the county’s most substantial issue and a cause for other sore spots that torment the region.

While on the hustings, she’d said businesses have been forced to close temporarily because of staffing issues. Others had to delay projects to accommodate staffing shortages. And it all goes back to people having a place to hang their hats and lay their heads.

“We have to tackle housing right away,” Richards said. “We need to look at housing in general.

“Not really talking about affordable housing. I’m talking about housing for our workers because our businesses are tired. They’re stressed. We need to have housing for them to be able to have workers to work for them.”

A neophyte to municipal politics, Richards said it feels quite shocking to have won. She singled out Meirik’s performance on the campaign trail and Meirik’s loss as a reason for her own shock at having won.

“I was surprised at the high percentage of votes for me,” Richards said. “I knew I had a good chance. I just thought it would’ve been a lot tighter.

“I’m surprised that it wasn’t as tight as I thought it was going to be.”

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James Matthews, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Minden Times