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'Critical role': Lehman appointed chair in District of Muskoka

'I hope my experience can support our new council as we tackle the challenges Muskoka faces and make a positive difference for our residents,' says former Barrie mayor
Jeff Lehman is shown in a file photo.


District council has adjourned its first inaugural meeting of the 2022-26 term and officially appointed the next district chair.

The first order of business was swearing in the 22 elected district councilors, who will now represent the voices of each partner municipality in Muskoka. Amy Back, district clerk, administered their oaths of office to officially commence their term. 

This term welcomes 12 returning familiar faces and 10 new members — all who now have seats reserved at the council table for the next four years.

Welcome: 2022-26 district council

  • Town of Bracebridge: Rick Maloney, Don Smith, Brenda Rhodes, Tatiana Sutherland
  • Township of Georgian Bay: Peter Koetsier, Brian Bochek, Peter Cooper
  • Town of Gravenhurst: Heidi Lorenz, Sandy Cairns, Erin Strength, Peter M. Johnston
  • Town of Huntsville: Nancy Alcock, Scott Morrison, Dan Armour, Bob Stone
  • Township of Lake of Bays: Terry Glover, Robert Lacroix, Mike Peppard
  • Township of Muskoka Lakes: Peter Kelley, Guy Burry, Allen Edwards, Ruth Nishikawa

Jeff Lehman Appointed to the Office of the District Chair

The next item on the agenda was to appoint the next district chair. This critical role and how this position is appointed is prescribed through the Municipal Act and the district’s procedure bylaw. The district chair acts as the chief executive officer and provides leadership to the affairs of council – they are the spokesperson for our community and are responsible for maintaining strong relationships with organizations and levels of government, to keep Muskoka visible and a priority, especially on major issues of policy and direction. 

Six candidates submitted applications to be considered by district council and came together at a meet-the-candidates debate event last week: Curry Clifford, Jeffry Lehman, Terry Pilger, Howard Rosenthal, Don Smith, and Tim Withey.

The 22 members of district council cast their votes via a secret ballot with district clerk Amy Back and district solicitor Jamie Clow on hand to monitor and validate the process.

District council appointed Jeff Lehman to the Office of the District Chair, for the 2022-26 term.

Mr. John Klinck, who has served as district chair for the last three consecutive terms and announced his retirement from 28 years of devoted public service, was in attendance to offer his congratulations and powerful words, as he passed the chain of office to incoming District Chair Lehman.

As mayor of Barrie from 2010 to 2022, Jeff Lehman became a nationally recognized leader for the way he has brought together his community to respond to crises and to confront strategic challenges. An urban planner and economist by background, Jeff and his partner Carolina have four children and a deep love for Muskoka.

"I'm absolutely delighted and honoured to be chosen by district council to serve as chair. It's an enormous task to follow the tremendous leadership of John Klinck and move the cistrict forward, but I hope my experience can support our new council as we tackle the challenges Muskoka faces and make a positive difference for our residents."

District Chair Jeff Lehman will lead the next district council meeting, scheduled on Dec. 19, 2022. Council meetings are held every third Monday of each month and are available for online viewing via webcast at the District of Muskoka’s website at