New council must walk fine line or repeat the past

The municipal post-election hang over begins this morning, waking up to a new council for Cobourg, feeling a bit groggy.

Mayor-elect Gil Brocanier will have two incumbents on council and four new faces. Stan Frost was acclaimed as deputy mayor and Miriam Mutton will be the new senior councillor, once again riding on top of the polls to victory.

The new faces are: Forrest Rowden, John Henderson, Donna Todd and Larry Sherwin. On the surface, it appears to be a big change from the last council. But the truth may be different.

For the past four years, one of the major criticisms of the old council was its male domination and exclusion of the single woman councillor, Miriam Mutton. This led to comments about council being a Boys’ Club under the mayor. While denials were abundant, the impression remained. Voting occurred in blocks with councillors Bill MacDonald, Dean McCaughey, Bob Spooner and Brocanier mainly voting as a block behind the mayor. This was not done blindly; nor, were the councillors puppets. Often, they would provide reasonable answers to those who questioned the rationale of any particular vote. But, it did little to deflect the Boys’ Club critics.

Rowden, Henderson and Sherwin will be in the spotlight.

Rowden was not known for being controversial in Hamilton Township. It is probably a quality that got him elected so many times. But, he cannot be a yes-man either.

Henderson was a solid representative on the Cobourg Police Services Board, but he also was not someone who tackled controversy easily.

Sherwin is an unknown.

Todd has a solid background in the union movement and comes across as a no-nonsense person. She looks like a person who will not sit still and can be outspoken. Combined with Mutton, this could be a dynamic duo, depending on the relationship they can forge.

Voters will need to watch carefully. The town will not be well served by Brocanier’s Boys, if they decided to repeat the last council’s performance. It will be interesting to watch if Brocanier tries to whip votes to meet his promised agenda. Everyone talks about working together. And a council must co-operate to accomplish things. But, it cannot be a rubber stamp either. It is certainly a razor’s edge. Now, let’s see who can walk it.

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