Danielsen returned as County warden for fifth year

From left: Coun. Walt McKechnie, Dysart et al mayor Murray Fearrey, Minden Hills mayor Bob Carter, warden Liz Danielsen, Coun. Lisa Schell, Coun. Jennifer Dailloux, Highlands East mayor Dave Burton, Coun. Cec Ryall.

It came down to drawing names from a box to determine the warden of Haliburton County for 2022-23. Councillors Liz Danielsen and Dave Burton were in the running. 

Danielsen, the mayor of Algonquin Highlands, was nominated by coun. Lisa Schell, seconded by coun. Bob Carter. Burton had the backing of coun. 

Cec Ryall, who nominated him, and coun. Murray Fearrey, who seconded. In a private vote, the two contenders were tied four votes apiece. Their names were then placed in the box and Danielsen won the luck of the draw. In the past, the mayor of the municipality with the highest weighted assessment broke the tie. 

It’s Danielsen’s fifth consecutive year as warden. She was robed by the last warden, Fearrey, while CAO Mike Rutter placed the chains of office around her neck. Danielsen said, “that was an interesting process for us all. I’d like to thank you all. I just want to tell everybody, and assure everybody, that I will work with you all – openly, keep everyone informed – negotiate and try to reach the best solution for all of us. “I just promise you that I will do my level best for the County of Haliburton because it means so much to me and I definitely want to get it right.” 

She also congratulated Burton for running and complimented his speech. 

During her pitch, Danielsen focused on the need for continuity during a period of transition. There are four returning and four new County councillors. Back are Danielsen, Burton, Schell and Ryall. New are Fearrey, Walt McKechnie, Bob Carter and Jennifer Dailloux. Danielsen said, “I fully understand that there is likely some concern from one or two of you about the longevity of my holding this position. But it is long past the time when we take turns but rather choose the most appropriate person for the role.” 

She said the outgoing council and staff had done a lot of hard work responding to the will of residents and she wanted to see that work continue with a smooth council transition. 

She discussed struggles during the pandemic, staff shortages, and “a lot of anger and frustration over the last term,” but said County council had still managed to meet almost all of its objectives, and keep moving forward to address the needs of changing times. 

She said with finally having a full staff complement, “I’m concerned that too much change in direction at this point, after so much hard work has been done, could have an adverse effect.” 

The County is changing quickly, Danielsen added, “and we need someone to roll up their sleeves and continue that work.” She said residents and the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus had all expressed a desire for her to return for at least another year. 

She touched on the continuing service delivery review, community safety and wellbeing plan, creation of an OPP detachment board, affordable and attainable housing, the shoreline preservation bylaw and health care sector challenges. “I have full knowledge of ongoing issues and I’ve been very engaged and involved in all council discussions … I pay attention. I do my homework. I participate in all group decision-making.”