Sundridge council appoints new councillor

·3 min read

Sundridge council has its replacement for former town councillor Stephen Rawn.

Rev. Fraser Williamson was named to council during a special meeting June 30. His appointment officially took effect July 1.

Rawn resigned from council after selling the family home and moving to Strong Township with his wife.

The village advertised the vacancy for a few weeks during June and Williamson was the only candidate to apply.

In his submission letter to the mayor and councillors, Williamson wrote that he has had a lifelong calling to hold political office.

In preparation for a run in the 2018 municipal election, he attended nearly all of council's meetings as a spectator starting in 2015.

However, the 2018 election coincided with positions Williamson began with the United Churches in Golden Valley and Port Loring.

As well, there was a medical issue in his family at the same time, which the individual later overcame.

Williamson acknowledges in his letter that serving as a town councillor is not an easy task.

However, as an ordained minister he believes he has developed the communication and interpersonal skills needed when dealing with the public.

When council interviewed Williamson at the special meeting, Mayor Lyle Hall asked him if he was prepared for outside comments on the decisions he would make as a councillor.

“We can't make everyone happy,” Williamson responded.

“You need to take a step back and censor yourself.”

Williamson said as a councillor he would try to make the best decisions possible for the community as a whole.

On a question from Coun. Barbara Belrose asking if he is a team player, Williamson said the easy answer is yes.

He added, there would be times when he would disagree on issues with his colleagues but emphasized that when the final vote is taken and the decision is made, he would support it regardless of his position during the debate stage.

Williamson was ordained as a minister of the United Church of Canada in May 2018.

He has been a resident of Sundridge for seven years with his wife Sandra. Williamson will sit as a councillor until next year's October municipal and school board elections.

Williamson characterizes himself as community-minded and is, or has been, a member of quite a few organizations including the Strong Agricultural Society.

Since 2016, he has served as the Almaguin team lead and a director of the Near North Palliative Care Network.

During that period, he helped the organization grow its volunteer base from two people to 25.

Williamson says he also helped increase community awareness of the work the care network does, which includes bereavement and palliative services.

In 2017, Williamson became a board member of the Sundridge-Strong Union Public Library and in 2019 was named chair of the board.

Serving on the library board is something Williamson said he would like to continue if appointed to council.

Williamson also is a volunteer columnist with the Almaguin News, which prompted Coun. Steve Hicks to ask how he could keep his writings separate from his work as a town councillor.

Williamson said he didn't expect any problems on this front because his columns deal with community events, such as fundraising initiatives or writing about groups and individuals in Sundridge and South River.

Hicks also asked Williamson where he thought the council acted poorly but also where it did well. Williamson said poor results were minor in nature but he commended council on being transparent with its actions.

In response to a question from Deputy Mayor Shawn Jackson on why he wanted to be on council at all, Williamson said he is always looking for new ways to become engaged in community mindedness.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget

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