Durham to vote for Regional Chair


Regional Chair candidates gathered at a forum Tuesday evening for the final push before election day October 27.
Regional Chair candidates gathered at a forum Tuesday evening for the final push before election day October 27.

For the first time in 40 years, Durham residents can vote for the Regional Chair.

In April 2012, Durham Region council passed a by-law to allow voters to choose a person for the job. Previously the position was chosen by the council.

Durham has six candidates vying for the position and each municipality will see the same choice of names: Roger Anderson, Arthur Augustine, Michael Deegan, Peter Neal, Lynn Porteous and Barbara Pulst.

Anderson has served as Durham Regional Chair for the past 17 years.

Augustine, from Oshawa, believes this vote shows true democracy within the region, whereas before it was lacking.

“The position has always been a nominated position, and it has been nominated by council members,” said Augustine. “They would vote for him to acquire favours from him while on council. We believe it to lack democracy and the input of the general population.”

Deegan, from Whitby, says it is important for all voices within the region to be heard.

“The region of Durham is very big,” he said. “The northern three townships feel they’re ignored and they feel they don’t get value for their tax dollars.”

Deegan explained this election is not just about platforms, it’s about residents choosing who they want to be the voice of the region.

Neal, from Whitby, believes the regional government needs some big changes, and a new update from when it was formed 40 years ago.

“Each municipality is sending different councillors to these regional meetings and they’re all pushing and pulling trying to get things done in their area,” said Neal. “No one is on the same page. The problem being with the way the regional chair is set up is it’s not unifying, helping to make this region go forward.”

Porteous, from Whitby, says this has been a long time coming, and hopes the people of Durham will use this opportunity to make change.

“It is time for a change, to grow and improve our region,” she said. “Municipal government policies affect our daily lives and we should be involved.  I am also hoping with the new online voting it will make it easier for people to vote.”

Pulst, from Pickering, believes this election will bring forth some much-needed change and uniformity among the municipalities of the region.

“I would like to see a region where each municipality has a vested interest in the neighbouring municipalities also prospering,” she said. “I also hope to bring more the idea that it’s actually the aspirations of the people in Durham that drive the change and not so much external stakeholders.”

The current Regional Chair, Roger Anderson, who resides in Ajax, believes this election will give a voice to the people of Durham where it may have been lacking in the past.

“The elected Chair will now be able to speak for all of the Residents of Durham Region and deliver their message.  Where as today the Regional Chair delivers the message of Council. The two may not always be the same,” he said.

Municipal elections are on October 27.