With Diana Huson’s victory over incumbent Brian Baty, she and Mayor-Elect Marvin Junkin go to Niagara Regional Council as newbies
BY JENNIFER CHORNLEY
Coming on strong at the end, political newcomer Diana Huson prevailed over incumbent Brian Baty to win Pelham’s single directly elected Regional Council seat last Monday.
Describing the last fours years as being “incredibly divisive and detrimental to Niagara’s credibility and reputation,” Huson said what Niagara really needed was new people and different attitudes towards how things should be done.
Of 18 directly elected Regional councillors, only eight were returned.
“Most of the elected candidates ran on having a more honest, open and transparent approach to Regional governance, including myself,” Huson said.
“I think we have a great opportunity to make that happen.”
With a majority of the council being new, Huson said there are upcoming challenges to overcome, such as overcoming learning curves, instilling good leadership and rebuilding the Region’s reputation.
“We need to learn the ropes as quickly as possible in order to make things happen. I think engaging with our Regional staff will be pivotal to make this transition happen quickly and efficiently.”
Realigning Niagara’s priorities needs to return to the agenda.
“Building our economy will be dependent on attracting new business, industry and talented people to our Region,” Huson said. “We need to refocus our Regional governance on building upon, encouraging and promoting the great things that are happening in Niagara.”
With numerous investigations and the Region painted as being mismanaged and corrupt, Huson says many things can change through policy revisions.
For the Region to move forward on policy issues, Huson says it’s important to have a strong leader in the Regional Chair position.
Councillor expenses is another campaign issue Huson wants to address.
“It’s something I’ve been campaigning on and it really resonated with voters. We need to have rules on what can and can’t be expensed,” Huson said.
“Although this may not be one of the more controversial issues, it sends an important message about responsible spending and accountability around taxpayer dollars.”
She said she also believes the CAO hiring issue will “take precedence,” as it should. “But will be dependent on what we hear from the Ombudsman’s investigation. If possible, I would like to see us move more swiftly on this issue to come to a resolution.”
Huson credited timing, a positive campaign, traditional person-to-person networking, and digital marketing for a strong, successful campaign.
“It was a very long and onerous few months, but throughout this time I met some amazing people, including most of the other candidates,” Huson said. “But, it’s also very rewarding. I feel I was able to really connect with voters and learned so much about Pelham’s passions.
“When I knocked on doors, people were very vocal about desiring change.”
Huson said regarding Pelham’s completely new Town Council, “It’s clear that Pelham was unhappy with the status quo.”
She extends a “thank you” to family, friends, supporters and, most importantly, voters during the campaign.
“I am truly honoured that I have the opportunity to represent Pelham at the Region. I want to assure you that I am committed to representing you to the best of my ability.”
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