BROCKTON – Tuesday night’s council meeting marked the beginning of a new term, the inaugural meeting for a council that has a new deputy mayor – James Lang, who’d previously been a councillor – and three new councillors – Mitch Clark, Carl Kuhnke and Greg McLean.
While Mayor Chris Peabody said he’s looking forward to working with the new council, he’ll miss working with the three people who won’t be returning for this coming term.
During the final meeting of the previous term of council on Nov. 1, the three members of council who won’t be returning were presented with recognition certificates.
Deputy Mayor Dan Gieruszak has served four terms on council – 2003-2006, 2006-2010, 2014-2018 and 2018-2022.
Coun. Steve Adams has been on council for five terms, including three for the Town of Walkerton and two – 2014-2018 and 2018-2022 – for Brockton.
Coun. Dean Leifso has served two terms – 2014-2018 and 2018-2022.
All three have also served on a number of committees that have been instrumental in making Brockton the thriving municipality it is today.
In congratulating the three for their service to Brockton, Lang said he’d learned a “wealth of knowledge” from them, and thanked them for their mentorship.
Coun. Tim Elphick thanked them for their many contributions, and said they’d laid a “strong, positive groundwork for the next council.”
Coun. Kym Hutcheon commended the three for being so supportive, and said, “It’s been a pleasure working with you for these past four years.”
Report presented on election
Council had the opportunity to view and discuss the final report on the municipal election during the Nov. 1 meeting. The report was prepared by Fiona Hamilton, municipal clerk.
The municipality opted to proceed with telephone and internet voting. Paper ballots were not used in this election.
Voter turnout was 35.4 per cent, with 2,839 ballots (of 8,012 eligible) cast. Voter turnout in 2018 was 49.03 per cent.
Hamilton stated in her report that the lower turnout can be credited to the fact both mayor and deputy mayor were acclaimed, and there was a relatively small number of candidates for available positions. She noted the low turnout may also signal “that electors are relatively satisfied with the services and direction of the municipality.”
Posting of results was delayed for an hour by a glitch, caused by the website provider redirecting information to a special “results” page.
A voter help line was set up to troubleshoot and assist voters who were having difficulty using the internet and phone voting system. The report noted the most common problems encountered by voters were misspelling the voting website. Some had difficulty because their birth dates were listed incorrectly on the voter’s list. Hamilton noted in her report that there were fewer people with this problem than in past years, because municipal staff identified electors with birth date issues and took measures to correct problems before voting began.
Most of the calls to the help line were from people using the phone voting system. Some had difficulty providing their birth date in the correct order, or using the pound key to enter information.
The municipal office had a voter help centre throughout the voting period, due to the availability of staff, and the fact the building has an accessible entrance. Large touch screen monitors were set up in the front meeting room, and staff were able to enlarge the text on the screen to help those with visual difficulties. The touch screens also made the process easier for those who were not comfortable using computers, especially a mouse or touchpad, or who had fine motor difficulties. Hamilton stated in her report that many commented on the ease in using the large touch screens.
Voter help centres were also set up at the Cargill and Elmwood community centres on Oct. 24. A total of 291 voters made use of the help centres, a significant increase from 2018, when 179 voters used them. On voting day, Cargill had about 40 people visit, the municipal office had 30 and Elmwood had 10.
The Cargill Community Centre has a fully accessible push-button door, while the Elmwood centre was monitored to ensure everyone could access the help centre.
Hamilton indicated in the report that “the majority of individuals … commented on the speed and ease of the online voting system.” Staff are recommending that in the future, voter help centres should be set up only at Cargill and the municipal office.
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times