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Carleton moves into mayor’s chair of Georgian Bluffs

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There’s a new face – but a familiar face – taking over the Georgian Bluffs council.

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Sue Carleton, who has served as deputy mayor for the past four years, was elected mayor of the municipality on Monday night.

Unofficially, Carleton received 1,727 votes, compared to 948 for incumbent Mayor Dwight Burley and 935 for challenger Scott Catto. There were 48 rejected votes. Carleton’s total was 47.21% of the votes cast, while Burley had 25.92% and Catto 25.56%.

Carleton, who was first elected as a councilor in 2014 and then acclaimed as deputy mayor in 2018, said she felt really good after seeing the first results come in.

“I’m happy and looking at who’s on the board, I think it’s a good group to work with,” Carleton said. “I feel pretty good.”

Carleton said that after having bilateral knee surgery in early September that left her unable to go door-to-door, she knew she had to run the campaign in a different way, and it appears to have worked.

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“I had decided to do it with the online digital platform with the website and the Facebook page,” Carleton said. “I guess in a way it was my bet that I could reach more people digitally than I otherwise could.”

Carleton said as mayor she hopes to bring a different style of leadership that is more inclusive for the whole council.

“I would like to make a change where, in our committee of the whole, council members take turns chairing these meetings,” Carleton said. “We could gain experience there.

Carleton said she would also like to look at committee structure and wants reports to come back “so we know what’s going on in the outside committees that people sit on,” like the library board.

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“Since COVID happened, people are watching more online now, when they wouldn’t come to the municipal office,” Carleton said. “They’re observant online, so the more information we can provide to them at board meetings, the better.”

Election signs along the Sunset Strip in Georgian Bluffs on Monday, October 24, 2022.
Election signs along the Sunset Strip in Georgian Bluffs on Monday, October 24, 2022. Photo by Rob Gowan The Sun Times

Earlier today, Carleton said the biggest issue she heard from residents during the campaign was about what was happening with the biodigester, with reports from Chatsworth and Georgian Bluffs staff pending.

“We kind of timed these reports to come back at the start of the board’s new term so that the board then had a good four-year window to do something,” Carleton said.

Another major problem she heard about was the water situation in the village of Pottawatomi.

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“They don’t have good quality water, they don’t have a lot of water and we’re going to have to find a solution to that,” Carleton said. “I have no idea what this fix will look like, but I think it’s a priority.”

Beyond the issues she heard about were ATVs on the trails, as well as what the municipality plans to do about regulating short-term rentals when the township updates its official plan.

“There are people who have short-term rentals and they’re taking good care of them,” Carleton said. “I’ll hazard a guess that most are looking after them well, but it’s the ones that are vacant landlords that really jump out at you because there’s no controls in place there. I sympathize with the neighbors of those.

Burley and Catto were not immediately available at press time Monday evening.

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Burley was seeking a second term as mayor after defeating Catto in 2018. The incumbent was a member of Sarawak council before the merger and was first elected to Georgian Bluffs council in 2003, before taking over as mayor deputy in 2006.

Burley said it has been a long but good campaign and he always puts his best foot forward.

“It was a different campaign with different people having different views on a lot of things,” Burley said. “Everyone at Georgian Bluffs seemed reasonably happy.”

Burley said he hadn’t heard any major issues from people he spoke to, but of those who were asked about the municipal biodigester, the municipality shares with Chatsworth.

He said there have been discussions about municipal cooperation and that it could be improved, but he said Georgian Bluffs has had a good relationship with its neighbors — including the city of Owen Sound — for a long time.

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“We have good communication with them,” Burley said. “For example, when the 10e Construction of the street bridge was underway, we sat down and made a great deal on fire services. It was a very good deal and a lot of those elements are still in place.

“We just have to be able to sit down and talk and see what is best for both municipalities. It’s a long conversation.”

Catto said Monday afternoon that the most important thing he took away from the campaign was that people seemed ready for change.

“We had a bit of a lack of leadership and we just managed to get things done,” Catto said. “You can’t let things be continually delayed from year to year. You should keep up to date with your policies and procedures.

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Catto said the situation with the biodigester, which has been losing money since it was built in 2010, needs to be addressed.

“We’re going to be the next area that really wants to grow and thrive. I can see a lot of people going out of town and a lot of our thinking is 30 years old and that needs to change,” Catto said. “We have a lack of younger families in the area and that sort of thing, and without up-to-date allowances and allowing people to do things and allowing things to be moved in, you’re not going to attract that crowd anymore. young and we need that younger crowd.

Catto said in his second campaign that he had a little more knowledge of what was happening in the municipality, and he pushed a little harder this time to get his message across.

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He said he decided to run again because he saw the municipality in “exactly the same position as four years ago”.

“Everything is still the same and there has been no progress on a number of issues and that only hurts the community,” Catto said.

There was no race in Georgian Bluffs for deputy mayor, as one-term councilor Grant Pringle was the only one to apply for the post and so was acclaimed.

There are new faces around the board table, as eight people have applied for five board positions, only two of them incumbents.

The five candidates who held the council seats were incumbent Ryan Thompson (2,518 votes), incumbent Cathy Moore Coburn (2,423) and newcomers Mike Smith (1,963), Tobin Day (1,912) and Rick Winters ( 1,734).

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Those watching out were Isaac Shouldice (1,644), Christopher Azavedo (1,472) and Colin Correia (864).

Moore Coburn will serve on the council for a second term after being first elected in 2018, while Thompson has served on the council for 18 years after being first appointed in 2004 after then-Mayor Larry Miller , made the leap into federal politics.

Two current advisers did not show up this time. Carol Barfoot, who was first elected to Keppel Township Council in 1991 before the merger, served more than 28 years as an elected official and did not run again. Two-term councilor Paul Sutherland, who was first elected in 2014, also didn’t make another run this time around.

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