Uxbridge Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor will be filling out the term as regional chair following the death of Roger Anderson last month.
She was appointed to the post by regional council on Wednesday (April 11) and will be officially sworn in shortly, making her the fifth regional chair and the first female to hold this role.
O’Connor has 34 years of municipal experience, including 29 years as mayor of Uxbridge. She is a long-time resident of Durham Region, having moved to Uxbridge at the age of eight from her hometown of North Bay.
After earning a diploma from Shaw College, she held positions as assistant to a buyer for a major corporation and at a recording studio. Her interest in politics, however, was spearheaded while working as a reporter for a local newspaper; covering the major decisions of Uxbridge Council.
Hoping to make a change, O’Connor was elected, as a local councillor, in 1980; a regional councillor in 1982; and moved into the role of mayor in 1985. Although she took a break in 2006 to focus on family, she returned to serve as mayor in 2010.
Throughout her time on regional council, O’Connor has served as the chair of the planning and economic development committee for 17 years. She was also chair of the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) for eight years.
“Under her leadership, Uxbridge has had significant improvements, including infrastructure (roads, culvert and sanitary sewer projects), enhanced community facilities (a new fire hall, outdoor recreational spaces, and more), a designation as the Trail Capital of Canada (due to a network of trails that link to the Trans-Canada Trail and the Oak Ridges Trail), additional economic development opportunities, strong financial reserves, and various other initiatives,” according to a press release issued by the Region.
O’Connor, who was appointed after the seat was formally declared vacant, will hold the position until the current term ends on Nov. 30.
The seat will be contested in the municipal election in October. Nominations open May 1.
“It was believed that, with less than a year remaining in the current term of council, a current regional councillor would have the experience and knowledge necessary to step into the role,” the press release reads.