Change and continuity in new Guelph council

The following editorial appeared in the October 26 edition of the Guelph Mercury:

Guelph voters managed an interesting trick at the ballots Monday.

They purchased a council direction that was familiar to them and a good measure of political continuity as well. But they also arranged for some new voices around the council table and what appears to be the makings for more division on certain files and vision elements. Maybe that’s not a bad thing.

Newcomers Todd Dennis, Jim Furfaro, Andy Van Hellemond and Cam Guthrie bring fresh perspective to council and evidence of an openness to challenge the administrative and political status quo. The election of Guthrie and Van Hellemond in particular created a palpable sense of being unsettled among some members of the team of incumbent councillors returned Monday. No doubt some of that was due to the fact that these new councillors defeated incumbents who were warmly regarded players on their team. Though, particularly in the case of Guthrie, winning on a campaign that included some adversarial elements may have been an influencing factor as well.

The defeats of Ward 4 Coun. Mike Salisbury and Ward 2 Coun. Vicki Beard will remove two politicians who worked to keep in touch with their constituents. Salisbury should also be remembered for his work as a lead referee on the Deerpath skateboard park nightmare and for his advocacy for improvements to transit service – among other things. For her part, the community should be grateful for Beard for several contributions such as her spearheading of a pollinator park on the site of the old Eastview landfill.

Guelph Mayor Karen Farbridge and other members of incoming council asserted Monday that the elected officials need to come together as a team.

That will be more of a challenge with more than the minimum number of changed councillors coming into the fold.

But those elected should also heed what they campaigned on and be open to pushing the team to consider alternate possibilities when they feel it’s warranted.

Guelph clearly felt pretty well served by the past council but wanted to tinker with its composition somewhat.

We look forward to seeing how the team voters chose stewards the city.