Author: Laurie Watt
MIDHURST – For the first time ever, a Wasaga Beach mayor will lead Simcoe County – and he will do so during a critical time as the area struggles with growth, increasing demands for social services, and tighter finances.
In his second run for the county’s top job, Cal Patterson was acclaimed warden Tuesday afternoon. In his seventh year as mayor, Patterson, 56, has served as chairman of the county’s influential performance management committee for several years, a job that’s designed to furnish the experience required to step in as warden.
“Each one of us has issues we need to bring to Queen’s Park and be heard,” said Patterson, who pledged to help develop leadership on council, as well as restore trust in county politicians.
A retired financial controller, Patterson was born and raised in Collingwood. He served six years as a Wasaga Beach councillor and six as deputy mayor – the job that first brought him to Simcoe County council.
He said he was surprised and relieved when the warden for the past three years, Springwater Mayor Tony Guergis, declined the nomination.
Within minutes of beginning his speech to wrap up 2009, Guergis began thanking colleagues for their support. It quickly became obvious he was not going to proceed with his bid for a fourth term. Even so, Guergis made history as the county’s first three-year warden.
“Thank you for your support in giving me this tremendous opportunity to serve, not once, but three times,” he said.
Guergis highlighted the challenges and achievements of the past three years, citing: the controversial Site 41 landfill; budgets that he described as showing restraint while still supporting the vulnerable; and a growth-planning exercise that ultimately resulted in an Ontario Municipal Board appeal and a provincial vision for the area.
“Most of the work I set out to do in 2010 is done,” he said. “Last Thursday was a landmark day for me. We had 18 municipalities working together. We unanimously passed two resolutions – that we would support each other’s growth plans and support the provincial direction, and that we’d work together on servicing solutions.”
Patterson said he plans to work with Guergis to ensure a smooth transition and rebuild county respect after the intense Site 41 debate this summer – a contentious debate that put Guergis’s name on placards.
“I’m hoping we can work together,” said Patterson. “He has three years of being warden. There are a lot of things going on with growth planning, Site 41 – that was a tough one.
“(Being warden) is the next step in leadership,” he said, adding he plans to help develop leaders among county councillors and keep them informed and involved. “I lead by consensus. That’s my style. I want more participation.”