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Peace at last?

Mayor, councillors agree to step into 2009 together after a divided 2008

The dawning of a new year has brought cautious hope for a renewed spirit of cooperation between the mayor and her council colleagues.

2008 ended with a call for reconciliation from embattled Mayor Linda Jackson following a public demand from Vaughan’s eight councillors that she resign.

Jackson’s olive branch has been greeted with guarded optimism by several councillors, all of whom agreed the challenges ahead in 2009 will require strong leadership from the city’s elected officials.

“It’s the first time that Linda Jackson hasn’t blamed everybody else for the predicament we’re in, so I look at that as a positive,” Councillor Peter Meffe said. “I think that there’s an opportunity here to move ahead.

“By her saying that she agrees that we cannot continue the way it’s been for the past two years, I think that’s a positive as well.”

Since the beginning of her mayoral term, Jackson says, she’s had to deal with an unsupportive council and senior administration, which has made it difficult to govern.

“I’ve always been willing to work with council,” she said. “As soon as they asked for my resignation, I said, ‘Look, I’m still willing to work with them.’

“You don’t have to like the people you work with, but you have to put that aside and work for the public and work for the people.”

Councillor Alan Shefman, one of Jackson’s more vocal critics on council, said he wants to see action back her words.

“She’s said things like that before,” he said. “Let’s see the rubber hit the road here.

“She’s got to come to some of our committees that are doing the hard work. . . . She’s got to be at those working sessions and put her two cents in and take responsibility at that level.”

Councillors have been working to hammer out the details of a 10-point plan they announced at the same Dec. 15 press conference they asked Jackson to step down. The plan, which will likely come forward at the first committee of the whole meeting of the year, will guide council to the next election, Meffe said.

“Gone are the days, now, that we can simply think that all we have to do is manage the city, as we’ve done for two years,” he said. “We have to get into a progressive action mode to ensure that this recessionary period and receding economy we get through it as quickly as possible.

“Hopefully we can all move forward together.”

Vaughan Today
In print: January 9, 2009, page 2
Online: January 12, 2009 [link]