Melanchthon Mayor Darren White has been elected as the 144th Warden of Dufferin County – marking his fourth term as the Head of Council.
White was elected to the position, which he will hold for the 2020/2021 term, via an anonymous virtual ballot during County Council’s meeting last Thursday (Dec. 10). White has previously held the Council position in 2017, 2019, and 2020.
“This position is about generally big picture thinking, it’s about change for the better, change for all, and change that is equitable for our entire County – it is about what you make it,” said White to Counillors before the vote. “This position can be a token position that accomplishes nothing much, for a glorified ribbon cutter as it were, or it can be about forward momentum, getting it, keeping it, and using it to better the lives of those we represent, I certainly chose the latter.”
“I’m asking you to entrust me to lead our Council as we navigate the biggest challenge most of us have seen in our life time, and I ask you to stay the course as that challenge continues in the 2021,” he said of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amaranth Deputy Mayor, Chris Gerrits and White were both nominated for the Head of Council position, with White officially being elected following a 7-5 vote.
The Warden is the head of Dufferin County Council and acts as the chief executive officer (CEO) for the County, leading Council meetings, and providing representation at functions.
“As chief executive officer, the head of Council shall uphold and promote the purposes of the municipality, promote public involvement in the municipality’s activities, act as the representative of the municipality both within and outside the municipality, promote the municipality locally, nationally and internationally and participate in and foster activities that enhance economic, social, environmental well-being of the municipality and its residents,” explained Dufferin CAO Sonya Pritchard.
Concluding his election as the 144th Warden of Dufferin County, White spoke about the challenges experienced throughout 2020.
“It certainly was the word of the year for last year and looks to be the word of the year for the year to come. Challenge to continue to support our vulnerable sectors, our frontline workers our seniors and our local economy,” said White. “Our Council, our staff and our residents have taken up that challenge and as we watch rising numbers [of COVID-19], and an upcoming vaccination program, it is important to now redouble our efforts as our challenge continues.”
White added that he will be standing for information and science as the community continues to deal with the pandemic into the new year.
During the Council meeting four chairs were also elected to lead the standing committees. Mono Mayor Laura Ryan will oversee the Health and Human Services Committee, formerly titled the Community Services/Dufferin Oaks/Museum Committee. John Creelman, Deputy Mayor of Mono, will lead the General Government Services Committee. Orangeville Mayor Sandy Brown was chosen as the Chair of Infrastructure and Environment Committee and Janet Horner, Mayor of Mulmur, will be the Chair of the newly formed Community Development and Tourism Committee.
Counil members that will remain on Dufferin County Council until 2022 include Coun. Steve Anderson (Deputy Mayor of Shelburne); Coun. Bob Currie (Mayor of Amaranth); Coun. Guy Gardhouse (Mayor of East Garafraxa); Coun. Chris Gerrits (Deputy Mayor of Amaranth); Coun. Earl Hawkins (Deputy Mayor of Mulmure); Coun. Andy Macintosh (Deputy Mayor of Orangeville); Coun. Wade Mills (Mayor of Shelburne); Coun. Philip Rentsch (Deputy Mayor of Grand Valley); and Coun, Steve Soloman (Mayor of Grand Valley).
Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press