Andrew Smith, Listowel Banner
Perth County council has voted to continue with the status quo after discussing the possibility of extending the term of warden to two years.
The report presented at the Oct. 4 meeting of council, prepared by county clerk Kerri Ann O’Rourke, examined the pros and cons of extending the term of county warden from one year to two.
The report also drew on comparisons between the county and lower tiers, which Coun. Julie Behrns disagreed with.
“The mayor is elected at large by their municipality, and the warden is elected by nine other people,” Behrns said. “I think there’s a huge difference in electing someone for a two-year term when it’s nine people doing it.”
O’Rourke responded the report was simply comparing the responsibilities of the warden and mayor, and that the enormity of the job is similar, regardless of how either is elected.
Coun. Vince Judge indicated his support to keep the one year term, as a longer term would limit the opportunities for other people around table to try their hand at the position.
Coun. Rhonda Ehgoetz agreed, noting most people on council are busy with other commitments.
“I think it limits the opportunities for people if you have a two year term,” she said. “We have a four year term at our lower tier, and I think that limits people from applying because they just don’t have the time."
Behrns, a warden for three terms, said she would have been wary of running for the position if the term had been two years. She added it’s difficult to know what the role will include.
“You don’t know what it involves, you don’t know how much time it’s going to take. You might like it, and you might absolutely hate it,” she said.
Warden Ian Forrest said his duties at the county and his responsibilities in Perth East as the mayor add up, and the time commitment is certainly something to consider when looking at running for warden.
“I’d have no trouble booking it in as a full-time job,” Forrest said. “If I was still trying to run the farm, something would have to go.”
Forrest explained there are certain priorities established by council, and it’s important for the warden to promote those priorities.
He added there needs to be more done to promote the county priorities, perhaps even more than he himself has accomplished in the position.
“Many of them won’t get accomplished in the year that you’re there, but you need to be thinking of pushing those along,” he said. “Whoever follows behind needs to be prepared to pick those up.”
Council passed a motion to continue with the status quo for the warden’s term, and for staff to investigate methods of streamlining the warden election process when the warden is acclaimed.