'We were way too divided': Former councillor shares why she resigned

MATHESON - A former Black River-Matheson councillor is speaking out about her reasoning for resigning.

Kim Druer stepped down from council earlier this year. Steve Campsall was recently named as the new councillor for the ward.

While the township said Druer's resignation was a result of public pressure, Druer told TimminsToday that it was due to a number of factors.

“I left council because I didn't like the way things were going. We were way too divided. I have never seen this township the way it is now. And having my granddaughter brought into it — my 17-year-old granddaughter was being harassed — having it affect my family life, no, I'm not going to have that happen. My family comes first,” she said.

“So many people that have worked for this township for years have quit. I just, I couldn't take it anymore. I didn't want to leave. I really didn't, because I wanted to do the most I could for Ramore and to see what was going on, but not being able to change things and fix it, I had to walk away.”

Mayor Doug Bender said he definitely believes there is a small divide on certain issues.

Overall, he said the goal is the same — to improve the municipality.

“Unfortunately, with some of the divisive issues that we've been dealing with, that sometimes makes it more difficult. And with the labour disruption, that doesn't make it any easier, because our staff is spending way, way too much time trying to deal with issues that aren't actually making the municipality better, just keeping it running,” he said.

Both Druer and the township agreed that the significant tax hike this year is part of her reason for resigning.

SEE: Black River-Matheson Township council approves 34% budget hike RELATED: Frustrated Matheson residents turn to province for help

“I wanted to go in there and make a change. Build up this township. You know, have it soar. Have the kids want to come home from college and have people want to stay. I knew there was going to be some kind of controversy, but I voted no on the budget because it's not just one meeting and boom, we vote. No, you go through the budget. We didn't get to go through the whole budget,” she said.

Druer said she believes they could have made the tax hike less than 34.5 per cent.

“I know we could have. All we got to work on was public works. The town hall was 31 per cent. I would have liked to have cut there,” she said.

“Every mayor that I spoke to from around here couldn't believe we were at 34.5 per cent. Like, that's pretty bad. Toronto was only five per cent. We're a little community.”

A new councillor has been chosen for Ward 6.

Steven Campsall, who owns Campsall's Auto Repairs, will fill the seat for the remaining three years in this term of council.

"I would like to join council as I believe I have many skills and experience that could aid the council and staff. I would also like to see our town continue to grow and succeed," he wrote in his summary of why he wanted to join council.

The township’s next meeting is on Nov. 14

By then, Bender hopes everything is in place for Campsall.

Druer said she would gladly run for council again depending on the circumstances.

“Next election, depending on who's in there and who's running for mayor, I will throw my name back in there,” she said.

Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,