By Joe Konecny
Mike Derrough and Bill Sporbeck are riding the wave of elector optimism generated by the largest field of municipal candidates in Central Elgin history.
A total of 22 CE municipal candidates – including four mayoral challengers – have got electors buzzing about a 55-day campaign with the potential to return a brand-new regime: mayor, deputy mayor, and five ward councilors.
“I think it’s great,” Derrough said in an interview. “People are interested in a change possibly.”
Added Sporbeck, “I believe that a wide field gives the voters choices. Nothing is a sure thing, and all of the candidates will have to earn their places.”
Derrough, 69, is running in Ward 1 against Michelle Graham. The incumbent Ward 1 Councillor Colleen Row is campaigning to become Deputy Mayor.
Sporbeck is running in Ward 5 against Rob McFarlan and David Baughman. Incumbent Ward 5 Councillor Fiona Wynne is not running again.
A Belmont resident for over 20 years, Sporbeck, 57, has been employed in the automotive manufacturing industry for almost 25 years, while maintaining a profile as an active volunteer in the community.
“I decided to run because our community needs a voice that isn’t afraid to stir things up,” Sporbeck said. “Our community is growing and there are a few issues that really need to be taken on head first.
“The first issue is the cost of water and the second is a Belmont School,” he said. “I know both of my opponents in this electoral race and I don’t have a bad word to say about either of them. What I can say is that I am different. I am not a follower. I believe in blazing my own trail and I plan to work hard for the residents of Ward 5.”
A Port Stanley resident since the ‘70s, Derrough was the assistant arena manager in 1972, an accountant for five years, then assumed packaging, shipping and receiving responsibilities at Labatt Brewery, in London, for 30 years.
His election platform includes calls for better control over tax increases, a cap on water rates, more affordable housing, a new EMS at the firehall, and reform of parking rates to better serve local merchants.
“What I stand for is to be honest, confident and listen to concerns, and strive to make Port Stanley a better place for the next four years and beyond,” added Derrough. His father Art Derrough, was also an accountant who served as Councilor and Deputy Reeve in Port Stanley back in the ‘80s. “Having lived here so long gives me a better outlook on what has occurred through the years and what was and was not done right.”
Derrough and Sporbeck are part of a new crop of CE municipal politicians that include:
- financial services professional Todd Noble, of Union, who is mounting a campaign to become Deputy Mayor, up against Row and newcomer Bill Harrington;
- Ward 2 features a race between incumbent Mayor Sally Martyn, and Ward 3 Incumbent Councilor Karen Cook, as well as two newcomers, Morgaine Halpin and Sherlock Reid;
- Bill Fehr is the incumbent in Ward 4, but Fehr is now running in Ward 3, against Dan Carter, Douglas Medlyn and Norm Watson; and
- Harold Winkworth is running in Ward 4, up against David Conners. (Not all of the candidates immediately responded to the North Shore Beacon’s inquiries.)
Many electors following the October 24, 2022 municipal election are also focused on the four-way CE mayoral race.
Andrew Sloan, Casey Siebenmorgen, Ward 2 Councillor Dennis Crevits and Deputy Mayor Tom Marks are the candidates for CE Mayor. Martyn prevailed over David Marr and Siebenmorgen in the 2018 Central Elgin mayoral race.
“With four individuals running it will divide the support and could end up with not the strongest individual winning,” said Richard Haddow, a successful local realtor and former municipal politician. “It will become a popularity contest based on name recognition, past experience, commitment to the community and their past successful involvements with the voters.
“There are many issues in Central Elgin that could become election issues and what is important for the future plans in the taxpayers’ minds,” Haddow continued. “The voters should listen and talk with all the candidates, making their views known before making a pledge to support anyone. I hope there will be many opportunities to meet and discuss the issues with candidates.”
Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) statistics show that the average voter turnout in the 2018 municipal election was 38.30 per cent, the lowest turnout in a decade. With a tight mayoral race, and 18 other municipal candidates, some in the community believe there will be a better turnout this time around.
Former CE Ward 1 councilor Dan McNeil, however, isn’t so optimistic. “The normal turnout for municipal elections is very disappointing … typically not more than 40 per cent. Unfortunately, there is not likely to be any impact because four are running for mayor.
“Port Stanley Ward 1 will really want the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor to be favorably inclined toward investments in the future of the port and its harbour,” added McNeil. “Others in Central Elgin will not want a Mayor and Deputy Mayor to pay too much attention to Port Stanley.”
The past Secretary Treasurer of the now defunct Central Elgin Ratepayer Association (CERA) Terry Campbell predicts, “It will be interesting. The oldies versus the new contenders. Looking forward to their platforms and objectives.”
There are also seven trustee candidates on CE’s Certified List of Candidates, with two to be elected for the Thames Valley District School Board, one to be elected for the London District Catholic School Board, one to be elected for the French Language Catholic School Board, and one to be elected for the French Language Public School Board.
“It looks as though we have a substantial number of candidates running in our upcoming municipal election,” said John Morrow, president of Heritage Port Stanley, the village’s historical society. “I see a good mixture of incumbents, former councilors hoping to regain their previous positions on Council, and candidates throwing their hats into the ring for the first time.
“Now is the time for voters to educate themselves about the candidates,” said Morrow. “Find out who’s running for Council in your ward. Ask where they stand on issues that are important to you. You might even decide to work for a candidate whose victory you want to ensure.
“When the voting is over and the dust settles, we know that a new Council will lead us forward for the next several years,” he added. “Now is the time for citizens to choose the direction we want for Central Elgin by electing the best candidates.”