Bain honoured at Warden’s Banquet, potential successors emerge



By Ron Giofu


Warden Tom Bain is saying goodbye to that position and now knows who is officially interested in taking over the Essex County’s top political job.

Bain, who will be returning to county council as the mayor of Lakeshore, is stepping down as warden at the term’s end. Bain has served as warden, which is the head of county council, since 2010. He also served as warden in 1993 when the position had a one-year term.

Seeking to replace Bain as warden are Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos and Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara. Santos was the warden from 2006-10 and while McNamara has never been warden, he has 20 years of experience on county council and is a former president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO).

Bain is finishing up two consecutive four year terms as warden, and told the crowd at the Warden’s Banquet Friday night he enjoyed the experience.

“It’s been great the last four years,” he said. “It’s been great the last eight years.”

Bain said past wardens have been his mentors and many were on hand to show their support.

“They gave me a lot of experience and they taught me a lot of knowledge,” he said.

Windsor-Tecumseh MP Cheryl Hardcastle, Windsor West MP Brian Masse and Essex MP Tracey Ramsey paid tribute to Tom Bain (second from right) at the recent warden’s banquet.

Essex County staff have also been great to work with, he added, noting that former CAO Brian Gregg and current CAO Rob Maisonville were very helpful when he brought issues to their attention.

Noting he recently looked at a photo of the 1993 Essex County council, Bain joked about being the only one left in municipal politics.

“I’m like a TV star,” he quipped. “I’m the Last Man Standing.”

Bain said he has always pushed the concept of teamwork over the years, whether it be on county council, his council in Lakeshore or with staff. He added that he has had a good working relationship with Windsor, including current mayor Drew Dilkens and former mayor Eddie Francis.

Essex County is now debt-free with a AA+ credit rating, he added. Other priorities have included health care, such as the new mega-hospital, and the Hospice in Leamington. Widening Highway 3 is still an issue, he noted, and “we as county council have to keep pushing for that.”

Bain also received numerous awards and tributes during the night. A trio of local Members of Parliament – Essex MP Tracey Ramsey, Windsor-Tecumseh MP Cheryl Hardcastle and Windsor West MP Brian Masse – were on hand as was Windsor-Tecumseh MPP Percy Hatfield, the latter also making a presentation on behalf of Essex MPP Taras Natyshak.

“He really has made a significant difference in our community,” said Ramsey.

Hardcastle, who once served on county council with Bain, praised him for his leadership and said she was inspired by him. Masse served on the ERCA board of directors with Bain when Masse was a Windsor city councillor and said Bain was someone he could look to as a role model.

Warden Tom Bain addresses the crowd at a banquet in his honour Friday night. Bain is will not seek the county warden position again but will return to county council as Lakeshore mayor. Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos and Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara will attempt to succeed him as warden.

Santos, when declaring his interest to be the next county warden, said he is “very proud of the progress that has been made” and said he has an open door policy. He believes he has a calm demeanor and that he will continue to listen to people and other county council members.

“I am willing to fight for causes for Essex County,” said Santos.

McNamara also pointed out the county’s debt-free position.

“Not many municipalities can say that,” he said.

McNamara thanked his own residents in Tecumseh for returning him to Essex County council and believed he has the leadership and experience to lead county council through 2022.

The inaugural meeting of the new county council will be Dec. 12. That is the night the new warden and deputy warden will be elected by their peers.

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