WALKERTON – Brockton council has filled the vacant chair around the horseshoe.
At a special council meeting on Tuesday morning at the Bruce County administration building, Tim Elphick was selected as the newest member of Brockton council.
Elphick was selected from seven candidates who applied for the position.
“It’s certainly an honour and a privilege to be Brockton’s next councillor,” said Elphick after being sworn in on Tuesday morning. “I am certainly excited to get to work for the citizens of Brockton and look forward to advancing the interests of our community.”
The newest member of council was selected after council heard from the seven candidates – Elphick, former Brockton mayor Charles Bagnato, Philip Englishman, John Fruin, Carl Kuhnke, Gregory McLean and Henry Simpson (Paul Crysler withdrew his name for consideration on Jan. 20) – and two rounds of voting.
Getting to those two rounds of voting, however, were not without some excitement.
At the beginning of the meeting, two members of council – Mayor Chris Peabody and Councillor Dean Leifso – declared a conflict of interest. For Peabody, the conflict was that one candidate (McLean) is his brother-in-law, and for Leifso, he cited professional reasons for why he could not participate in the selection process.
Both Peabody and Leifso observed the proceedings, with Peabody being able to return and participate if McLean was no longer in consideration.
The first candidate to speak was Englishman, who immediately asked that Deputy Mayor Dan Gieruszak declare a conflict of interest due to a dispute between the two in relation to issues at the Saugeen Municipal Airport.
After a brief recess to allow staff to review procedure, clerk Fiona Hamilton stated that if Gieruszak were to recuse himself from participating, there would not be a majority of council to vote and select a new councillor.
“That would not be sufficient for the appointment,” she said. “Procedure dictates that any candidates with the fewest number of votes would be eliminated from voting and the next round of voting would begin.”
She said that if Gieruszak were to recuse himself, a majority of council would not be able to properly appoint a new councillor until either of the candidates that Gieruszak and Peabody were in conflict of interest with were eliminated and one of those two members of council rejoin the proceedings.
Gieruszak, after hearing the information, explained that he would not recuse himself.
“The integrity commissioner has reviewed the situation at the airport and sent out an email yesterday (Jan. 20) indicating that there has been no transgression at the airport with respect to what (Englishman) thought there was there,” he said.
The deputy mayor explained that there is a situation regarding access and trespass at the airport, which he sated is part of “regular business” and that no conflict of interest exists.
In response, Englishman thanked council for their decision to proceed and stated that his main reason for applying was to send a message to council.
“The main reason I applied for this position was to bring home the point to council, if I understand some of the issues, is that you decide to vote for your friends rather than for the issue. I won’t go into particulars, but I hope if I get voted to council that I will vote for an issue, not (for what) the councillor next me wants if he is my friend,” said Englishman.
He then stated that this has taken up more than his 10 minutes allotted to him and declined to continue speaking, stating that there were other candidates with more important things to say than he did.
Gieruszak stated that Englishman could have his entire 10 minutes and that the discussion and recess surrounding the conflict of issue would not be considered part of his time. Englishman, however, said he had taken the 10 minutes and that since council was under pressure to “get this done today, I’ll just step back.”
Following the exciting start to the meeting, the remaining candidates addressed council individually to explain why they are qualified to be the next member of council, as well as to answer any questions that council had of them.
After each candidate was finished, councillors Kym Hutcheon, James Lang, Steve Adams and Gieruszak completed the first round of voting.
The order of voting was determined by drawing a name from a hat, at which time the member of council marked their ballot and announced who they voted for.
In the first round, all but two candidates were eliminated from the ballot. Councillors Hutcheon, Lang and Adams voted for Elphick, and Gieruszak for Kuhnke.
With the elimination of five candidates (Bagnato, Englishman, McLean, Simpson and Fruin), Peabody was allowed to participate in the second round of voting.
In the second round, Hutcheon, Lang and Adams again voted for Elphick, with Peabody and Gieruszak voting for Kuhnke. With a 3-2 vote, Elphick was selected as the next councillor for Brockton.
Elphick, who works in professional labour relations and previously worked in the public service sector, stated in his address to council prior to voting that he has a strong passion for serving the public and is not afraid to stand up for his beliefs, citing his work in advocating for the Walkerton courthouse when the decision was made to move bail hearings to Owen Sound.
“(That was) a decision that would ultimately lead to another cut in the delivery of public services here in Brockton, impacting some of the most vulnerable citizens of our community; citizens whose voices often go unheard in an overbearing bureaucratic justice system,” he said.
He added that he believes his youth and insight would be a welcome addition to council.
“I believe my youthful voice, insight and perspectives with having a young family will be a welcomed addition to our current council as we work to promote and retain families of all ages,” said Elphick.
After being sworn in as the newest member of council, Elphick told the Herald-Times that he is looking forward to working for the citizens of Brockton, citing infrastructure and growth as priorities.
“Having a young family, (my priorities are) making sure that Brockton remains an attractive community of choice in the years ahead for both commerce and our residents, and ensuring that our infrastructure is appropriately managed, invested in, viable to continue us forward,” he said.
Peabody thanked all of the candidates for applying, saying it was great to see such interest in the position.
“I would like to thank all of our candidates for applying. It’s great to see so many people applying,” he said. “It’s certainly important to all of council that we did have interest and people who are willing serve the citizens of Brockton.”
Elphick didn’t get much time to celebrate following his appointment, as his first meeting as a member of council was on Tuesday night.