Brampton’s new city council had a special meeting Tuesday to round out its numbers for regional representation and Rowena Santos, the new City Councillor in Wards 1/5, has been appointed to the seventh Brampton seat on regional council.
Santos is the first person of Filipino descent to sit on Brampton council, and she brings a wealth of information from the political, private and nonprofit sectors to the role.
In its first council meeting, Brampton’s new council is usually tasked with selecting a seventh councillor to seat at the region and represent Brampton along with Mississauga and Caledon, and it can be a contentious decision.
Brampton has 10 councillors and a mayor but only seven seats at the Region of Peel. Five councillors are elected, a sixth regional seat is taken by the mayor, and the seventh is appointed by council from among the 5 city councillors.
Mississauga, on the other hand, has 12 councillors and they all have seats at the regional council table — an issue that’s long been a sensitive one for Brampton.
The choice can pit councillors against each other right out of the gate. This time around Santos was nominated by her counterpart Paul Vicente and earned the six votes needed to win.
Charmaine Williams, Councillor in Wards 7/8 came in a close second with 4 votes, and Jeff Bowman was also nominated.
For the first time Brampton City Council also selected an alternate councillor in case one of the regional councillors must be absent for an extended period of time. Harkirat Singh, councillor in Wards 9/10, was selected beating out Williams 6-4.
During the debate, Jeff Bowman, Ward 3/4, and Michael Palleschi, Ward 2/6, suggested it might be fairer and less contentious to simply draw names from a hat. This option wasn’t possible as it would force council to break its procedural bylaw.
Interestingly, Santos tabled a motion to have Brampton look at splitting her four-year regional council term as a way to give others the opportunity and experience.
The motion was approved and will be examined by city staff. If council decides to allow it, Santos could hand over the reins to another councillor in 2020 for two years.