Ramara Mayor Basil Clarke will lead the County of Simcoe as warden for a two-year term.
Clarke was elected Dec. 13 at the 175th inaugural meeting of County of Simcoe council. Springwater Mayor Jennifer Coughlin took the deputy warden seat.
Clarke has sat at the county council table for 16 years and said he’d like to hit the ground running by presenting a united front to the province on Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act.
“The province wants to work with us. They’re not the enemy,” he said. “We have to sit down at the table and negotiate to find ways forward. We need to deal with it quickly.”
Other priorities Clarke mentioned include pushing the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport as an economic driver, housing, and tourism.
“I’d like to thank county council for choosing me,” he said. “I’d really like to focus on bringing people together over the next couple of years.”
“Leading is all about listening,” he added.
Coughlin noted out of 32 county councillors, there are 22 new members this time around the table.
“The county is only strong if we come together,” she said. “My strength is bringing people together. In this supportive role as deputy, that is going to be my focus.”
Coughlin said she and Clarke have big shoes to fill, taking the reins from former warden George Cornell and former deputy warden Lynn Dollin.
“They taught us how to lead a county united through change,” said Coughlin.
Clarke takes the torch from Cornell, who offered some words of advice.
“You really want to commit yourself to the role. It’s a huge role and a huge opportunity. Have some fun along the way,” said Cornell.
The positions were decided by a ballot vote of all county councillors, for a two-year term.
The next meeting of county council will take place Jan. 8 to start budget talks.