Positive comments seem the order a year after election (King Weekly Sentinel Editorial)

Positive comments seem the order a year after election (King Weekly Sentinel Editorial)

This editorial my Mark Pavilons, Editor of try King Weekly Sentinel is reproduced and appeared in October of 2011.

MARK PAVILONS

KING WEEKLY SENTINEL

It’s been said that time flies, and so it seems has been the last year.

A little more than a year ago, King Township voters elected themselves a new mayor, brought in two rookie councillors, restored another one to office and returned three veterans.

And after that year, basically positive reactions are being reported.

Mayor Steve Pellegrini called it “a wonderful, magnificent year.”

He added getting the hang of the new job is a learning curve.

“The one thing I have learned is patience,” he declared. “It takes time. There’s a process and things take time.”

The mayor had a list of accomplishments over the last year, including the opening of the Trisan Centre in Schomberg; his inaugural golf tournament, which raised more than $50,000 for the centre; the establishment of a sustainability task force for the Township, which is working on a plan which will include branding; and the appointment of Susan Plamondon as Chief Administrative Officer. He also pointed to the establishment of the Community Police Centre on Main Street in Schomberg along with the new office for the King Chamber of Commerce.

Pellegrini noted design work has started on a new soccer facility, as well as a new ball hockey and skateboard park in King City.

The Township also received a $37,000 grant toward accessibility upgrades to existing municipal buildings and facilities. In addition, he pointed to the new elevator in the King City Library.

He also commented on how council has gone to a paperless agenda. That, and the fact that all correspondence is electronic, he said saves the municipality upwards of $50,000 per year.

Other accomplishments he cited included partnering with the Country Day School to make many of its facilities available to the Township, continuation of the road surfacing project for various roads and negotiating to have sewage hauled away until the Nobleton system is operational.

As well, Pellegrini said he’s maintained his perfect attendance record at Township and York Region committee and council meetings, adding he’s never had a conflict of interests.

Councillor Avia Eek said she was not one to follow politics before she got into office, but she said the job’s been growing on her.

“I really enjoy it,” she said. “I enjoy working with the residents.”

Eek said 44 residents have given her their e-mail addresses, and she uses that as a network to pass along the word when something of interest comes up. She’s encouraging more of her constituents to do the same.

“Overall, I think we have a tremendous council,” Eek commented. “It’s open. It’s transparent.”

Eek also had lots of praise for Township staff, who have helped her get the hang of the job in her first year. “They have been nothing but helpful and cooperative,” she declared, adding she’s been on a learning curve for the last year. “I was terrified at first. I didn’t know all the ropes yet.”

After her first year, Eek expressed the wish that more people would get involved. She said if people want to see change, they have to be ready to make it happen.

There have been some surprises for Eek, as she’s been experiencing political life from the other side.

“It’s not so black and white when you’re sitting on the other side of the fence,” she remarked.

Roads have proven to be a bigger issue than she expected, adding that accounts for about 85 per cent of the calls she gets from constituents.

The other rookie, Councillor Debbie Schaefer, said she’s pleased with the way things have been going.

“I’m enthused and excited about the job,” she declared.

“It’s a big job and there are some tough things that we’re dealing with,” she added.

Schaefer has found a lot of time is being spent collecting feedback, while more time is taken up explaining to people that some things are beyond the powers of council.

As well, she said she’s been amazed at how long it takes to get some things done. She said she used to be frustrated at the slow pace when she was a resident, and is still frustrated as a councillor. She said the last year has given her more insight as to why that is, “but that doesn’t make it right.”

Councillor Peter Grandilli returned to council last year after being out of office for the previous term.

“Things are going very well,” he declared. “Everything is coming together in Nobleton.”

Grandilli said he’s noticed the workload has increased since his first term on council. “We’re trying to accommodate people as much as we can,” he said.

He added he’s hoping to see some improvements to the existing plazas, including the possibility of Foodland releasing their building so another store can go in there.

As well, Grandilli said there will be some holiday decorations going up a couple of locations in Nobleton, such as at the Gazebo and Cherry Park.

The councillors who returned from the previous term also report there have been changes.

“It’s different with a new mayor and new councillors and a new CAO,” commented Councillor Linda Pabst, who added she expects to see changes when council starts dealing with the 2012 budget.

Pabst said the last year has been a challenge for her (her husband died just days before last year’s election), and she added there are still things to learn about the job. “After 17 years, I’m still learning,” she observed.

She pointed to some of the accomplishments over the year, including th opening of the Trisan Centre and the curling facility, as well as the police facility in Schomberg.

Councillor Bill Cober called it “a year of transition” for the Township.

He pointed to the departure of a number of senior Township staffers, like Clerk Chris Somerville, CAO Scott Somerville, Parks Recreation and Culture Director Catherine Purcell, Library CAO Murray McCabe, etc.

“There’s been a lot of transition taking place,” he observed.

He added it’s been an exciting year, with such developments as the opening of the Trisan Centre, but warned there are difficult times to come, when they start dealing with the budget.

“Our roads always need more money,” he said.

Councillor Cleve Mortelliti had a number of positive things to say about how the last year has progressed.

“For me personally, I feel this council is a much more cohesive group which is a refreshing change from the last time around, and I attribute much of this to the leadership of Mayor Pellegrini,” he stated. “There seems to be a much greater degree of mutual respect amongst this council.

We don’t agree on everything but we seem to work together much easier and that makes such a big difference in the image we project to our community partners.”

The last year has also seen Mortelliti serving as deputy mayor.

“There is an increased work load associated to it,” he reported. “I would say there is also an added level of expectation. And I do tend to get involved in more Township wide issues as opposed to Ward specific issues.”

“But it’s a huge honor and I have enjoyed the appointment,” he added.