Dear Mayor Vandewal,

Written by  John Sherbino Wednesday, 09 January 2019 12:14
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As you are aware, I’ve just completed 4 years as the appointed Loughborough representative on South Frontenac’s Committee of Adjustment. I believe that opportunity to be a vitally important part of the democratic process in our community and once again, I thank the members of the previous council who gave me the opportunity and my peers on the committee for their support.

I have decided not to apply for a second term in spite of the fact I would surely have enjoyed the next four years. Particularly so because of the Township’s recent hirings of a new Director of Development Services, Planner and Planning Assistant who are demonstrating a level of professional competence and commitment to their work that is a delight to see.

My reticence to reapply spills over into a concern for our Township and more generally for rural governance in Ontario.

I believe that there must be a concerted effort on the part of rural communities to encourage and enlist younger members into public politics and service. If I stayed on the committee for another four years, I’d be seventy-five at my term’s end.

Rural Ontario elected officials are overseen politically and professionally by younger metropolitan governments that, in large part, view the cost of running the countryside as a drain on city finances. In recent decades the territorial responsibilities of rural MLAs and MPs have expanded beyond any credibility while metropolitan territories have seen a growth in representation. Our representatives are voices in the wilderness in Toronto and Ottawa.

I’ve lived in South Frontenac seventeen years and have watched the pressure of the metropolitan thumb grow in all areas of our rural lives. It does no good at all to view this as a Country Mouse-City Mouse battle. Downloading isn’t going to go away.

We need people with skills that mirror those in the cities: organizational and business skills, modern farming skills, technology skills, and environmental skills. Fortunately, those skills are right here in South Frontenac and throughout rural Ontario.

We need to get those competent and accomplished people into public office as the face of modern rural Ontario. We can’t compete with the cities on the basis of population. Fortunately, we don’t have to, given the talents of our younger adults.

This opinion is not a denigration of age, education, occupation or experience.

It is rather a recognition of how people interact and how we become comfortable with our views of things. I believe it is time for change.

As our mayor, supported by council, the next four years offer you an opportunity to foster this change and help maintain healthy and respected rural communities.

John Sherbino

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