Councillor Patrick O’Reilly was re-elected deputy mayor for 2021, defeating fellow councillor Ron Ashmore in a recent vote of councillors and the mayor.
Only minutes before being re-elected, O’Reilly had given his deputy-mayor’s report thanking everyone on council for their assistance in 2020, but at the same time expressing his disappointment that the pandemic had limited his ability to get out in the community and meet the voters at events like economic development town halls, Canada Day and the International Plowing Match that were all cancelled because of COVID.
When the opportunity for nominations from the floor arrived, Councillor Doug Elmslie nominated O’Reilly stating that “O’Reilly really didn’t get a fair chance in 2020 to do what he wanted to do because of the pandemic.”
Councillor Seymour-Fagan agreed with Elmslie’s statement and seconded the nomination.
In a brief impromptu speech accepting his nomination O’Reilly said, “I am looking forward to a great 2021. There are so many good news stories on the horizon in Kawartha Lakes and I am looking forward to being part of them.”
Ashmore, who announced his candidacy on social media a few days before the vote, was nominated by councillor Emmett Yeo and seconded by councillor Pat Dunn. Dunn felt it was important “that the city recognize how important agro-business is to the local economy and elect someone with a strong agricultural background.”
Ashmore told council that as deputy mayor he would focus on improving customer service, working to restore public faith in council and ensuring that the small villages and hamlets in the city are heard and he hoped to take a close look at city financing to see if projects could be done differently to avoid taking on more municipal debt.
After the completion of the nominating process and the speeches a secret vote was taken with O’Reilly emerging victorious.
O’Reilly told his fellow councillors that he “will help in any way that he can during 2021.”
The position of deputy-mayor was created in 2018 to assist the mayor, particularly over the summer months when public events right across the city require the presence of a senior official from city hall.
Some city hall watchers have also suggested that particularly with Mayor Andy Letham potentially not running again in 2022 that the deputy-mayor’s position is a springboard for the right person to campaign for the top job in the next municipal vote.
Fenelon area councillor Doug Elmslie served as deputy-mayor in 2019, with O’Reilly holding the position down in 2020 and now again in 2021.