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Council ready to get to work

Tori SuttonStaff Reporter

The inaugural meeting of the newly elected council was held Monday in the City Hall Auditorium.

Piper Tim Woodhead led the procession into the auditorium and the ceremony included Mayor Dan Mathieson and all 10 councillors taking their declaration of office, administered by Justice Robert Rogerson.

Greetings were sent by MP Gary Schellenberger and MPP John Wilkinson, while entertainment was provided by the St. Joseph's Youth Choir.

Mayor Dan Mathieson said it was a pleasure to stand before the audience having been re-elected as mayor for another four years.

"This privilege and honour is one I am truly grateful for and I appreciate the opportunity to serve this community for another term," Mathieson said.

He accepted the chain of office from former mayor Wilf Gregory, whose father – also a former mayor – presented it to him in 1956.

Mathieson noted many things said by Gregory in his address that night – including hopes all future mayors of Stratford would wear the chain with honour, dignity and pride – still hold true today.

The work done by the last council brought Mathieson great pride, and he said the new council must continue to build on that success.

"Our new council will be working on a number of important initiatives over the next four years and first and foremost will be completing a sustainable budget reflecting wise spending and prudent management," he said.

The committees have been struck and the mayor said each member of council has enough work to keep them busy over the next four years.

"They will also face many challenges to test their skills and ability," he said. "I believe this council will do a very good job at meeting these challenges and exceeding expectations."

He said it will be his job to bring about consensus, something he knows will not be an easy task but one he will strive to achieve.

Veteran councillor Frank Mark will act as deputy mayor for the coming term, a position he has held in the past.

Despite his previous experience, he is still excited to be assuming the role.

"I'm pretty happy, it's a nice vote of confidence from my colleagues on council," Mark said, after Monday's meeting.

"I think Dan and I work well together and I enjoy the challenge of taking over the leadership when he's away … I'll do my best to fill his shoes, it's pretty big shoes to fill but I'll do my best."

Mark said while he's looking forward to the next four years – especially helping new members through the learning curve – he will miss the members of council who are no longer serving.

Overall, Mark said the city is well positioned moving forward, and he's looking forward to the challenge of attracting new investment to the city.

"With what we've done in the last four years, and how we got into and out of the recession, I think we've placed ourselves in a pretty good position to attract some new business," he said.

Despite topping the polls, Coun. Martin Ritsma will not be chairing any committees. However, that's not something that's going to hold him back, he said.

"I don't see the chair as being any more important than the rest of the committee members," Ritsma said.

"The chair would obviously run the meeting, but short of that, everyone has a voice.

"Regardless of whether I'm the chair or whether I'm one of the members, I have equal say. I'm still one voice and that voice is a valued voice."

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