Mayor Sandy Brown shares why he’s not running for re-election

October 20, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

A familiar face on Orangeville Town Council, Mayor Sandy Brown won’t have his name on the ballot for the municipal election next Monday (Oct. 24).

After serving as mayor from 2018 to 2022, he said he is proud of council’s accomplishments over that period and decided to take a step back to spend more time with his family.

“I think we had as productive a council as we possibly could have during an unprecedentedly disruptive period of time with the pandemic,” Brown told the Citizen. “I felt personally satisfied with everything that’s gone on here.”

He now has grandchildren, who weren’t born before his term, and said he’d like to spend more time with them.

Being at the mayor’s office in town hall most days, Brown said his work on council became a full-time job, which was great for getting things accomplished, but very time-consuming.

He shared that he still plans to be active in the community, continuing his work with the Orangeville Lions Club, Dufferin Board of Trade, and the Friends of Island Lake organization.

Brown said it was a difficult decision to not run for re-election.

“I waffled for six months and every day, it was like, should I go? Should I not go? I felt supremely confident that I would get re-elected,” he remarked. “I think the fact that the decorum and respect was restored in the council chambers, which wasn’t in the previous council’s session, was probably one of the biggest achievements of this council.”

Brown added, “It’s interesting, in any work environment personality conflicts come up, but it’s important to set those things aside for the greater good.”

His hope for the future council, serving 2022-2026, is that this trend will continue, and decisions won’t be made to score political points in the near term.

“There are some decisions that are good for the long term financially but may not be as well received in the short term because there’s a cost being born now, which will be paid back in 10 or 20 years. And we’ve seen that the swimming pool situation [at the Alder Recreation Centre] is one of them.”

Instead of doing a vinyl replacement that would last a matter of years, council chose to do a stainless-steel replacement, which will last 25 to 30 years and has cost efficiencies for heating.

Brown also noted the original pool only had six lanes, whereas the new pool has eight, so it can hold provincially sanctioned events, attracting other swim clubs to town, which helps to stimulate the local economy.

During his term, Brown said he wasn’t one to “kowtow to the NIMBYs [Not In My Back Yards]”, concerning residents opposing new developments where they live.

“I’ve said this publicly in writing, that if you stop development, you are in favour of higher taxes,” he said, noting that more residential and commercial units increase the tax base to cover the annual budget.

He also shared that it helps boost the housing supply locally, getting more people into homes within their price range. 

The transition from Orangeville Police Service to Ontario Provincial Police, the sale of railway assets for roughly $32 million, and keeping property taxes low were some of the accomplishments Brown reflected on when looking at his time in office.

He said considering $9.2 million in property taxes were paid to other municipalities during the roughly 20 years the town owned the railway, he feels some of the money from the $32 million sale should be used to reduce taxes for Orangeville residents going forward.

“If I was going to run, I would probably be running on freezing taxes for the next four years. We can afford to do that… and I hope that some of the council in the future does take those kinds of actions,” he told the Citizen.

Reflecting on some of the biggest challenges over his four-year term, Brown said the railway sale and OPP transition were divisive issues in Orangeville.

“It brought out hatred and vitriol,” he noted. “As a citizen, before getting on the council, I’d never been exposed to this type of unwarranted hatred.”

Brown added that a lot of residents don’t understand how municipal government works and he can’t simply make a phone call to get a sidewalk crack or pothole fixed simply because he’s the mayor. These items go into a budget and are scheduled based on where there’s the greatest need. 

“I won’t be missing getting some of those emails and phone calls for what I consider sort of minor issues in what I think is a beautiful town with so many great things,” he said.

Going forward, Brown told the Citizen he doesn’t know if this will be the end of his political career but he’ll be watching what the next term of council does with great interest.

“I’m going to step back and watch and enjoy my family,” he said.

While Brown won’t be an option to vote for at the polls, he’d encourage all eligible residents of Orangeville to get out and vote on election day (Oct. 24).

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