By Joe Konecny
A familiar face from the Village of Belmont has returned to Central Elgin politics.
Rob McFarlan, 66, added his name to the municipality’s Unofficial List of Candidates for the October 24, 2022 municipal election.
McFarlan – a sales professional – served on Belmont Council from 1993 to 1998, Central Elgin Council from 1998 to 2006, and then again in Central Elgin from 2010 to 2014. He was defeated in 2014 by the current Ward 5 Councillor Fiona Wynn, who is not seeking re-election.
“In all the years I’ve been involved, I’ve never had the support that I’ve got right now,” McFarlan said in an interview today at the Belmont Diner. “People I know – mostly people in Ward 5 – are saying ‘why don’t you put your name in there’ and ‘get in there and fight for our cause’.”
Municipal taxation, garbage collection, water and sewer matters are among his top concerns and McFarlan believes his experience will benefit the local decision-making process.
“I’ve noticed how dysfunctional the Council is,” he added. “I’ve been around the horn a few times. I know my way around the system. The issues? Just look after the people you’re representing.”
The municipality’s Unofficial List of Candidate also registers Ward 2 Councillor Dennis Crevits as the only mayoral candidate. Meagan Ruddock and Bill Harrington are registered as candidates for Deputy Mayor. Michelle Graham is a candidate for Ward 1, Morgaine Halpin for Ward 2, David Conners for Ward 4, and Bill Fehr is the incumbent in Ward 4.
After 16 years on Council, incumbent Mayor Sally Martyn has already confirmed she will not be running again. Martyn, 74, is a life-long Sparta resident, living on her great grandfather’s historic mixed-use farm. A teacher for 26 years at Sparta Public School, she retired from a successful career in education in 2003. She entered politics in 2006, becoming Ward 2 Councillor, and serving two four-year terms, with an acclamation in 2010. She was elected deputy mayor in 2014 and mayor in 2018.
Crevits is the first to submit the paperwork to run for mayor. Deputy Mayor Tom Marks and David Marr – Central Elgin’s mayor from 2014 to 2018 – are widely rumoured to be considering runs for the job.
Proprietor at Rail Tech Enterprises, Crevits, 56, was first elected to public office in 1999 when he became Deputy Mayor of the new Central Elgin Council formed through the amalgamation of the Township of Yarmouth and the Villages of Belmont and Port Stanley. The Union resident was defeated by Sylvia Hofhuis in his second election, and lost to David Marr in his third election, before returning to office as Ward 2 Councillor seven years ago.
Graham, 53, is challenging incumbent Ward 1 Councillor Colleen Row, who has yet to declare her election intentions. A member of the Port Stanley Business Improvement Area (BIA), Graham is a senior consultant and national coordinator for a Montreal-based health care company.
Halpin, 32, of Roberts Line, is a Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) supply teacher. She hopes to fill the vacancy left in Ward 2 by Crevits’ departure. Halpin and her husband Anthony operate a three-acre farm just south of Sparta.
A life-long Central Elgin resident who now lives in Port Stanley, Ruddock is a TVDSB trustee and a medical secretary at the Elmdale Health Centre, in St. Thomas. She was first elected trustee in 2018, representing Bayham, Central Elgin, Dutton Dunwich, West Elgin, the townships of Malahide and Southwold, the Town of Aylmer and the City of St. Thomas. In 2019 and 2020, Ruddock served as the Board’s vice-chair. She was part of the campaign that led to TVDSB eventually reversing its decision to close New Sarum and Springfield public schools.
Ward 3 Councillor Karen Cook has not announced her elections intentions.
Candidates Harrington, Conners and Fehr have not immediately responded to inquiries by the North Shore Beacon.
Anyone interested in running for municipal office may file nomination papers by August 19, 2022. Candidates are required to collect 25 signatures on nomination forms. There’s a $100 fee for Deputy Mayor or Councillor candidates, and $200 for mayoral candidates.
In the last election, on October 22, 2018, about 4,334 eligible voters, or 40.44 per cent of 10,717 eligible voters cast ballots.