Voters wanted change in Dysart et al, Fearrey says
By Darren Lum
Published Oct. 30, 2018
Murray Fearrey, the long-time mayor of Dysart et al, lost the election, but hasn’t given up on the community he calls home.
On Oct. 22, Fearrey garnered 42.18 per cent of the vote, 932 fewer votes than mayoral candidate Andrea Roberts, who is currently deputy mayor. There were 6,059 votes cast out of 13,424 eligible voters for this election.
Fearrey called and congratulated Roberts on election night and reached out to new deputy mayor Pat Kennedy, who was elected over Dennis Casey.
“It’s kind of like your report card you get. It’s either you pass or you don’t. This time I didn’t,” Fearrey said.
“What I did was congratulate her and wish her well on the future. Pat’s new coming on council with a lot of boardroom experience. Hopefully he’ll be a strong voice and they’ll work as a team and the new councillors are there. Some of them have been there before. They’ve got a mix. It’s going to be interesting,” he said.
Fearrey said without hesitation he won’t be running again, but is not done working for the community.
“I may be involved in other things in the community. I think I probably have a lot of experience I can bring to some areas and I’m getting some ... people asking what I’d like to do. You know what? I’m not done with Dysart. I’m not done with the people. I love this place. It’s been my life and I want to see it succeed,” he said.
Fearrey has been mayor/reeve for more than 34 years and was first elected to Dysart council in 1971.
He believes he lost the election because voters were focused on change instead of his vision for progress, which included an effort to bolster Haliburton’s economy by drawing young families and professionals to the area. He thinks his platform was dismissed because of its timing, perceived as “political opportunity.”
“That’s politics. That’s how things get turned around,” Fearrey said. “It never came to council. Of course it didn’t come to council because I was laying down a vision for the next term to give people an opportunity to decide did they want to vote for change or want to vote for progress and a vision. Obviously, they chose change over progress. That’s what I tried to do differently [than other campaigns]. Obviously it failed so I’m fine with that. That’s politics.”
He called this the result of “populist politics” and cited other mayoral races such as the City of Peterborough where incumbent mayor Daryl Bennett lost to challenger Diane Therrien.
Therrien, 32, took close to 69 per cent of the vote over 70-year-old Bennett, who was seeking a third consecutive term as mayor.
“It’s happening where people are looking for something with no detail, just change. My opponent I respect, but there was no vision there. All there was was change ... if that’s going to move us forward then I’ll stand back and watch,” he said.
Roberts has said she would bring a team approach to council, look for new ways of doing business, create a goal-oriented strategic plan and increase dialogue by holding town hall-style public meetings.
Fearrey said there is opportunity for Dysart to grow, whether it’s economically through tourism or with new residents such as young people and families, or retirees.
It’s going to be up to the new government to take advantage, he said.
“It depends upon the management. That will hopefully work out and move forward and make it even a better place to live,” he said.
At 76, age isn’t slowing Fearrey down.
“I’ve got lots of energy yet. I know the old man card was played that age was a significant factor. I’ve got as much energy as anybody that’s 50 years old, in my opinion,” he said.