There is a new Mayor of the Township of Harrington.
Gabrielle Parr won a by-election held on Sunday, March 12. There were two candidates and Parr received 185 votes, leading to a narrow, seven vote win over François Filion who received 178 votes. There were 1,218 registered voters for the by-election, and 366 ballots were cast. Out of that total, three ballots were rejected. Filion conceded the election soon after.
The by-election in Harrington was held following the resignation of former mayor Pierre Richard on October 24, 2022. Richard had been elected in the general municipal election on November 7, 2021 and resigned less than a year later for health reasons.
Parr was also a candidate for mayor in 2021 and finished second to Richard. Until 2021, she had also served for eight years as a councillor, including as pro-mayor for the last three of those years. Parr said she decided to run in the by-election without any hesitation.
“I was ready to do it right from the get-go,” she said.
Parr said she has kept a close watch on municipal affairs since temporarily leaving council in 2021. However, before running in the by-election, she first wanted to ensure she had the support of the majority of council to ensure, that if she were elected, it would be easy for council to work together and make decisions. Fortunately for Parr, the support is there.
Parr said council held off on making major decisions during the time Harrington was without a permanent mayor. Part of the work council must do now is catching up on unfinished business. Parr said there are public works-related decisions which need to be made.
“I’m looking at catch-up,” said Parr.
She said it is important for the mayor serve as a tie between council and staff, and noted Harrington is unique because it has a combination of permanent and part-time residents. Parr also said minimizing expenses is part of her focus.
“I’m known for being conservative on costs,” she said.
Originally from Greenfield Park near Montréal, Parr has owned property in Harrington since 1992 and has been a permanent resident of the township since 2019. Parr’s past involvement has been with the Forest Lake Association and she volunteers for a local food bank.
Parr’s career background is in healthcare management. She and her husband have three children and three grandchildren.