Mississauga Councillor Announces Candidacy For Peel Regional Chair
In this year's municipal election, the position of the Regional Chair of Peel is also being contested for the first time since the Region was created in 1974. Speculation on who would run for this position range from current and former municipal and provincial politicians who could be seeking greener pastures after the June provincial election.
One of those municipal politicians has publicly declared that he will be running for that job.
Mississauga Ward 6 Councillor Ron Starr made the announcement during the March 28 city council meeting, as he handed out a press release from a group calling itself the "Committee to Elect Ron Starr." The committee declared its support for Starr's bid to become the first elected regional chair and will "formally activate" itself once the registration date for municipal election candidates begins on May 1.
"I'm ready to go, my heart is in this, and there's going to be changes coming to Ward 6," Starr declared after he said he consulted with family and various groups across the region.
Councillor Ron Starr (far right) meeting students from Kariya Japan high school during a sister city visit to Mississauga. Photo courtesy of Twitter/@ronstarr6
Starr was a Mississauga City Councillor from 1978 to 1980, before losing to now interim Ward 1 Councillor Dave Cook. He then returned to council in 2010, defeating now Ward 5 Councillor Carolyn Parrish in Ward 6. In his time away from politics, Starr ran a family business called Deanlee Management. He’s also a former CEO of Enersource and served various roles with Rotary, United Way, the Living Arts Centre, and Credit Valley Hospital.
With Starr seeking the regional chair position, this leaves Ward 6 as the third seat on council that will have no incumbent running for reelection. As insauga.com reported back in January, Ward 1 will have a new councillor once Cook serves out the remainder of this term, and Ward 7 Councillor Nando Iannicca announced he was not running for another term after 30 years in office.
As a two-tier government, the region handles different issues apart from the municipal governments of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon, such as regional planning, water management, and health care. But the overall issue of political representation has been a nagging problem for a number of years now, if not longer.
The other caveat is with the regional chair now being elected, that could shift some of the political power dynamic. Whereas before the chair was selected by the 21 or so other members of regional council with the intention of playing a consensus bridge builder, now the role can claim its own elected mandate from the residents of Peel Region, just like the mayors elected city-wide in Brampton and Mississauga.
In an email to insauga.com, Starr said he understood Brampton’s request for more seats because of their continued growth, and as chair he wants to ensure that there will be a full and thorough debate at regional council way ahead of the 2022 election. As for the question about the possible shift in power dynamic now that the chair also has an elected mandate, Starr says he still sees the role as being a consensus builder and doesn’t believe being elected would change that position.
A public information session will be held on April 10 at the Region's headquarters in Brampton for potential candidates for the position. Region of Peel and Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs staff will be on hand to answer questions about the role. Perhaps other candidates who are interested in running should mull over these questions should they be seeking it like Starr.
Candidates can begin registering on May 1, and municipal elections take place on October 22.
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Photo courtesy of UrbanTrans North America