'Big things are going to happen'

Norfolk County votes for change

New Norfolk Ward 1 councillor Tom Masschaele celebrates his win on Monday with granddaughter Hazel Walsh at the Simcoe Recreation Centre. JACOB ROBINSON / Simcoe Reformer

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Norfolk County wanted change and that’s exactly what it got on Monday.

A wave of excitement rushed over the Dogwood Room at the Simcoe Rec Centre as the 2018 municipal election results were announced.

Not only was there a change at the top with Kristal Chopp unseating Charlie Luke for mayor but a number of new faces were elected to council.

It all started when two newcomers Ian Rabbitts and Ryan J. Taylor unseated Peter Black and Doug Brunton in Ward 5 (Simcoe) and the night rolled from there.

Next up Amy Martin topped all comers including longtime incumbent John Wells in Ward 6 (Port Dover). Longtime Ward 3 (Delhi) rep Mike Columbus retained his seat, as did Roger Geysens (Ward 2).

Tom Masschaele was tapped to replace the outgoing Noel Haydt in Ward 1 (Port Rowan and area), Kim Huffman edged Jean Montgomery to take over Ward 7 and the outgoing Harold Sonnenberg, and Chris VanPaassen was the winner in Windham area Ward 4, replacing outgoing Jim Oliver.

“We have a lot of new faces, a new generation, and I’m looking forward to working with them,” VanPaassen said.

For Masschaele, the win was a long time coming as Ward 1 was the last to be announced. Advanced polls showed the former Holy Trinity teacher in third but much to his surprise the numbers changed quickly.

“That totally came out of nowhere,” he said.

“We were sitting here a long time staring at a screen with the same numbers. You get (the feeling) that ‘it’s not going to happen’ and when it changes I’ve got to say, I’m a sports fan and if you’ve ever watched the Kentucky Derby, you know who usually wins the race is the horse that’s coming around the turn in third.”

Masschaele said he could hardly wait to begin working with the rest of the council, a sentiment that was shared often throughout the evening.

“I want to sit down with everyone and figure out what the big issues in their wards are and let’s start working,” said Taylor.

With Taylor and Rabbitts being announced first on the night, it was clear Norfolk had voted to see new blood in council chambers.

“It seems like we’re going to be able to get that all-Norfolk approach in there and I can’t wait to start implementing it,” Taylor added. “Big things are going to happen.”

Martin didn’t have to wait long to know she’d won, advanced polls showed she had over 50 per cent of the vote and those numbers stayed steady when all votes were tabulated.

“I’m so pleased Ward 6 was receptive to my messaging,” she said. “I’m happy and proud of playing my role in the next chapter of Norfolk.”

The closest race came in Ward 7 where Huffman got past Montgomery by just 20 votes.

“I am absolutely humbled, I’m excited, I’m blown away that there’s a brand new council,” said Huffman. “I’m just so happy and I will do my absolutely best everyone in Ward 7 and Norfolk County.”

Columbus’ time representing Ward 3 dates back to when Norfolk County was formed. He and Geysens are the only returnees on the roster.

“There certainly are a number of new faces coming on board, it looks like a younger council coming on board with some new thinking and it will be interesting how they deal with the issues that we’ve had to deal with for the past number of years,” he said.

“I congratulate them for putting their name forward and on their win and I will endeavour to mentor them as best as I can to make a good council for the people in Norfolk County.”

Geysens was surprised to be back on council but grateful nonetheless.

“I thought that with the young people coming along that this was what they wanted,” he said. “But they want me back and this will be my final term. We kept a few veterans anyway – two so far. When I put my name in I said I’ll try one more so I’m happy to be in for another four years. We have some young and we have some old. Let’s see what we can do together. The voters have spoken and that’s the biggest thing.”