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Municipality to change system of government

by Paula Levy

Jack Wentzell is winding down his duties as the last warden of the Municipality of Lunenburg. When he is no longer chairman of council after the election in October, he plans to spend more time at home with his family and at his Christmas tree farm in Parkdale.
 PARKDALE - Jack Wentzell drives his red four-wheel-drive truck over the rough gravel road which leads through Pear Lake Farms.

 Tending to the Christmas tree farm operation or his beef cattle on his 200 acres of land is where you'll find the warden between municipal obligations.

 The morning of the interview in his small Parkdale home beside the community's museum, he was in the field with the cattle. Following the meeting, he is hoping to get a few more farm chores finished before he heads to the municipal office on Aberdeen Road in Bridgewater.

 He smiles and says it only seems like yesterday another reporter sat at his kitchen table profiling him as the new warden of the municipality. That was 11 years ago.

 His tenure as warden is coming to an end in October and although Warden Wentzell is running in his district for re-election as a councillor, he will not be seeking the top spot this time around. In fact, Warden Wentzell will be the last warden to ever wear the chain of office in the Municipality of Lunenburg.

 The upcoming election on October 18 marks the end of the warden era for the municipality. For the first time in its history, residents of the municipality will head to the polls to vote for a mayor.

 The change in the system of government began in 2004 when a plebiscite was held as part of the municipal election asking residents if they wanted to change to a mayoral system of government. Of those who voted, 4,297 favoured a mayor, while 2,819 liked the current warden system.

 The following year, council made it official and voted to change its current system of government in the 2008 election.

 After considering his options, the 67-year-old warden decided to step back and not seek election as the first mayor of the municipality.

 "Even if it wasn't changing, I would not have run for warden either," said Warden Wentzell. "It's time for a change after 11 years. … It's time for someone new with new ideas."

 He said being the head of council is getting more and more time-consuming and at this time of his life he'd like to focus more on his family and his farms. Warden Wentzell said since the mayor will be elected by the entire constituency he feels it will be even more demanding of time.

 "I think at this time in my life, I'd like some of that pressure relieved," said the warden. "At my age I should be able to slow down a little bit. I don't seem to have near as much time for my family as I'd like."

 As a modest leader, Warden Wentzell doesn't take credit for the accomplishments of council over the past 11 years since he's been warden. In fact, he says if it had not been for the support of his colleagues, little would have been done.

 "I think probably one of the greatest accomplishments, and it's related to not necessarily me but the whole council has accomplished, would be our economic development," said Warden Wentzell. "It's providing jobs and bringing business to the area."

 Another accomplishment that Warden Wentzell is proud to have been a part of is the development of parks in the municipality.

 As a whole, Warden Wentzell said he has appreciated being the warden for 11 years and a councillor for six years before that.

 "It's been an experience I've enjoyed," he said. "I owe them a debt of gratitude for allowing me to represent them. I sincerely hope that I have helped make decisions that benefit the entire municipality to help make this a better place to live in the future," added Warden Wentzell.

posted on 10/07/08
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