First 30 days in office, Mayor Broad reflects

MORRISBURG – While the tradition is to kickoff the year with the mayor’s reflection on the past year and his look forward towards the new year, this year The Leader decided to do something a little different.

South Dundas mayor Jason Broad is new to the political scene and given the timing of the sit down interview with the new mayor, which was one day shy of 30 days in office, The Leader asked Broad to reflect on his first 30 days as South Dundas mayor.

“The first 30 days – I’ve loved every minute of it,” said Broad.

“It’s been super-busy,” he said, listing all that has kept him busy.

Thirty-one hours of training including Association of Municipalities of Ontario head of council training, SDG orientation, South Dundas councillor orientation, Ministry of Municipal Affairs training, an HR event and a meeting with former mayor (Steven) Byvelds.

On top of that there have been introductions within the organization and meetings with every department. “It’s been super busy getting up to speed,” he said.

“As well, members of my council team and I have attended many community events.”

Broad counts 16 official community events that he has already attended since being elected mayor.

“We’re super proud in our first 30 days to have gotten a lot of things accomplished since we’re all brand new,” said Broad.

Along with clerk and deputy CAO Leslie Drynan guiding them through all the rules and procedures, Broad said that former clerk Brenda Brunt reached out to him offering help and advice. “I’m super-appreciative of the folks who want to help,” said Broad. “I want to make sure we learn and we get things right,” said Broad. “Especially from a procedural law standpoint.”

With a handful of official council meetings under their belts since inauguration, Broad says, so far it’s been great.”

As far as early progress, Broad said that during the council orientation sessions the team decided to make some procedural changes about how motions are received and how to handle matters where pecuniary interest is declared.

The most noticeable change is regarding the limited comments from council during a meeting.

“Being new, not everyone has comments all the time,” said Broad. So he will not call on them to make a comment unless they raise their hand. “As we get more comfortable and more experienced, we may have more comments which will be fine but we also want to think about efficient governance too.”

Broad has set an expectation for council and staff to invest the time in advance of meetings to ensure they get questions to staff members to allow them to have answers at meetings. “So we can be efficient,” said Broad.

Thirty days into working with this newly elected team, Broad says, “the council team is incredible. Their knowledge is really showing up.”

Looking forward to 2023, Broad doesn’t have much to share at this point since council has not yet held its visioning session, which will take place later this month.

“We want to make sure that in our vision we have more measurable items to follow progress throughout our term. More numbers to see where we’re at. More tangibles,” said Broad. “Data driven and evidence-based is something I’ve learned to think about more over the last four weeks.”

Looking back at what the last council accomplished, Broad said, “I’m not going to play old tapes. I thank them and I mean that from the heart. They had a difficult situation. In the middle of their term they had to deal with the pandemic. I thank them for all their hard work,” he said.

Adding that because of them, “We have the building blocks in place.”

“The ship’s moving. We have the momentum,” said Broad.

He expects that the visioning session will allow the council to establish its course.

“Within the organization, we want to make sure we have our house in order so it’s visible to the community,” said Broad.

“We want to make connections with all the groups and organizational structures out there. I want to let them know I care and I want to hear their feedback. I’m looking forward to that.”

Broad believes that by bringing positive energy to the table, it’s going to spread.

Looking at the work ahead, Broad says, “Budget is our biggest challenge. We have to figure out how to spend and on what.”

Budget-wise Broad says, “We will be investing in reserves for future spending. We will use all the reports we have to make the best decisions we can.”

“Through the budget process you will see that we have bigger expenditures coming and we need to save for those bigger expenditures.”

What is Broad looking forward to most in 2023?

“I’ve talked about the team atmosphere. I really want to see how we come together as a team, not just as a council but as a staff and as an organization. I really want to think about that team atmosphere and have that spread.”

“My message has always been attitude and culture. It’s free. It’s me. It’s natural. It’s my personality. It’s my energy. I most look forward to seeing how we can give that energy into our committees of council, our business groups, whatever it may be. For us to lead by example, come together as a team and go forward.”

“A side note is just how much we’re going to learn in the next six months. That’s going to be big for us. We’re going to learn a lot.”

“I want to build trust in the organization and I want to build trust within the community. It takes a long time to build trust. It can break down really quickly.”

To help combat break down, Broad says, “I have a message – If I’ve missed something tell me. If I’ve forgotten something, call me. If you’re feeling left out come see me. All of South Dundas is my family. There’s 11,044 of us. My intention is never for anyone to feel left out. I bring a smile every day and I say thank you a lot because I care.”

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