There are three new members of Thames Centre council, and they’re all female. Kelly Elliott was voted in as Ward 1 councillor, Jennifer Coghlin won in Ward 2 and Alison Warwick defeated incumbent Angelo Suffoletta by a mere 16 votes in Ward 3. Jim Maudsley returns for his third term as mayor and Marcel Meyer for his second term as deputy mayor.
The only other female council member since the municipality of Thames Centre was formed in 2001 was Delia Reiche, who served as deputy mayor from 2006 to 2010.
Elliott said of her fellow female councillors, “I can’t wait to work with Jennifer and Alison, they are fantastic women.”
Brescia University College graduate Coghlin is currently employed at Canada’s women’s university.
Elliott handily won the hotly contested contest for Ward 1 councillor with 941 votes. Incumbent Mike Bontje’s 244 votes put him last in the four-person race.
“What I’m looking forward to getting to work on is exactly what I told everyone from the beginning of my campaign, bringing back the voice to our residents,” said Elliott. “I’m excited to get back out listening to our residents about what’s important, what needs to be addressed and how I can better serve them."
“I had a lot mixed reactions, definitely my age (28) was a positive and negative. I’m excited to get started and jump in both feet first!”
Fewer than 100 votes separated Meyer and his closest competitor, Crispin Colvin and there were only 46 votes separating Colvin and current Ward 2 Councillor Chris Patterson, also in the race for deputy mayor. Meyer said he knew it would be close.
He posted on Facebook that it was a humbling experience running for deputy mayor.
“Having visited and talked to so many residents about numerous issues helps give perspective to serving the community for next four years. This would not have happened without candidates coming forward to run. I want to congratulate and thank Crispin Colvin and Chris Patterson for their success in making this election about our community and a better place to live.”
Patterson said he’s not going to disappear.
“I still have great ideas I want to move forward.” He will make the most of his remaining time on council and will continue to serve the community in other ways, perhaps as a member of one of the service clubs.
Maudsley defeated the other mayoral candidate, Harold McCutcheon, by 302 votes. The current mayor, who has mentioned this would be his last term, said he has won close races before.
“Most of all I want to thank the residents for their vote of confidence.” He’s also thankful to his campaign team for they effort they put forth to support him.
Some of Maudsley’s priorities for the municipality include moving forward with a plan to upgrade the community centre in Thorndale as well as promote the industrial land in that village. He will work with council to keep the budget in line so residents don’t have spikes in their taxes.
Coghlin bested her competitor for Ward 2 Gary McMillan by 200 votes and was thrilled with the outcome.
“This really touches my heart. It’s where I live.”
Her goal is to be more interactive. Coghlin believes it is important for the community to be involved with major decisions and that communication is key.
“I think we can do a better job.” She said some little things could be changed without making a large investment.
Warwick looks forward to communicating with her constituents via social media outlets such as Facebook. The owner of Warwick Equestrian pointed out that she has been involved in Thames Centre activities for a long time, not to garner votes, but simply to be involved in the community.
Suffoletta said he believes that Warwick will do a good job and wishes her well. He was also happy about the amount of voter participation.
“Democracy is what it is all about and the freedom to chose who people think will represent them best.”
Voter response was up to 50.9 per cent from 46.8 per cent for the 2010 election. Out of 10,339 registered voters in Thames Centre, 5,266 cast their votes. This is thought by some to be because of the convenience of phone and Internet voting for this election, but many also expected that even more people would vote. Full results are available on the municipality’s website and Facebook page.
There will be two more meetings with the current council before then, the first of which is an all-day meeting starting at 1 p.m. on Monday. The new council members for the 2014-2018 term will be sworn into office at the inaugural meeting on December 1.