“It’ll set the tone,” says new Essex Mayor of defamation suit and inaugural council meeting

Sherry Bondy after filing papers to run for the mayor of Essex, July 13, 2022. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

Sherry Bondy gets knocked down, but she gets up again and vows they “ain’t never gonna keep her down.”

The new Mayor of Essex might channel the lyrics to a hit from the 1990s when she speaks before the new council on Monday night. The council’s inaugural meeting is at the Essex Centre Sports Complex.

Not only is Bondy the new Mayor, four years after bringing to light election irregularities involving former Mayor Larry Snively’s campaign, but she has also won a libel lawsuit filed against former councillor Paul Innes.

“This was a huge victory for women in politics,” said Bondy. “It’s going to set the tone, I think.”

The defamation suit demanded $200,000 in damages. The settlement is confidential, but it required Innes to make a public apology, which he did on Facebook last Thursday.

“I have unfairly defamed and injured the character of Sherry Bondy,” began the apology. “Sherry Bondy did nothing wrong in connection to the OPP proxy ballot investigation of former Mayor Larry Snively.”

The Ontario Provincial Police investigated allegations of forged ballots during the 2018 election, and charged Snively. He pled guilty to charges under the Elections Act and resigned as Mayor.

Innes’s apology alluded to comments regarding the “parentage of her children” and “an inappropriate relationship.”

Bondy said she’s leaving the past to the past and hopes councillors under her mayorship are better supported.

“I want to have an open door with all members of council and administration,” she said. “I want to make sure that council members feel that I’m approachable and that we are on the same team, and that’s something I haven’t felt in the past.”

Bondy acknowledges the town faces real challenges, especially with the rising cost of inflation and how it impacts the cost of municipal services and projects.

“Sooner rather than later,” said Bondy, speaking about the need for a strategic plan to take the town into the future. “What do we really want to accomplish this term? We have to have those hard discussions about the level of service, roads, and tax increases. Without a doubt, we’re going to have some challenging times.”

It might mean bringing back some development fees, especially in Colchester, where new housing is planned.

“We want to grow, but we want smart growth with community buy-in. That’s something I don’t feel we’ve had in Essex,” said Bondy. “We did have a conversation on it a couple of months ago, and now we’re looking at how to phase it in and how else we can support businesses.”

Despite those challenges, Bondy is looking forward to the new term of council.

“So long as we work together and we have the best interests of the municipality at heart, I think we’re off to a very successful term,” she added.