Colebrook enters race for Norfolk by-election

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The field for the May 27 by-election in Langton-area Ward 2 has expanded to six candidates.

The latest to toss his hat in the ring is retired taxi driver Russell Colebrook, 63, of Renton.

If the name sounds familiar it may be because Colebrook stood for election as mayor of Norfolk County in 2018. Three years on, Colebrook’s interest in municipal affairs hasn’t waned.

“My platform is the same as 2018 – to give street-level people a voice,” Colebrook said this weekend. “I’m here to fill that role.”

After the election, Colebrook took on a job as an administrative assistant and community liaison with the Simcoe and District Chamber of Commerce. He later served in a similar capacity at the Port Dover Board of Trade.

Colebrook’s interest in municipal politics was re-energized in January when some on Norfolk council expressed support for an 8.8 percent tax increase.

When Colebrook learned of that, he concluded those struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic were not factoring into some council members’ calculations. He wants the opportunity to ensure those of modest means have a voice around the council table.

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“Those least able to deal with the increases are the most impacted,” he said. “With this COVID thing, we’ve had to cut back on groceries. If this were the House of Commons, there wouldn’t be many commoners.”

While council was deliberating the 2021 budget, Colebrook spoke in favour of a temporary, long-term loan from the county’s $70-million Legacy Fund as a potential solution to the municipality’s financial problems. His opinion – controversial in some quarters – has not changed.

“You just can’t brag that you have a fat bank account,” Colebrook said. “If you’re going to call it a `Legacy Fund,’ you have to leave something behind.”

Kristal Chopp of Port Dover won the mayoralty in 2018 with 10,838 votes. Colebrook was third in the three-candidate field with 604 votes.

Norfolk council declared a by-election in Ward 2 following the retirement of long-serving councillor Roger Geysens. Other candidates include Willian Dendekker, Linda Vandendriessche, David VanHamme, Noel Haydt and Pamela Moore.

The deadline for candidates to declare, according to the county website, is 2 p.m. April 12. The election takes place May 27.

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