As the Ontario municipality of Emo held its first meeting with its newly elected municipal council in December, three members of Emo Christian Reformed Church were sworn in to new or continuing roles. Harrold Boven, Lori Ann Shortreed, and Warren Toles make up 75 percent of the four-member council. Boven is brand-new to the role, having been elected in October.
He said he was “humbled by the show of support by the community” and excited to dive in to the work, hoping his administrative strengths might be of use.
Toles and Shortreed were each serving already, having filled vacancies in the council between elections. October 2018 was the first election in which they ran, also winning their seats.
“There are a lot of things that help make a community what it is,” said Shortreed. “Our council oversees all of those decisions and makes sure that we’re doing the best for all of our community—not just one particular group of people.”
Six people ran in October to serve the municipality of 1,400 people in northwestern Ontario along the Rainy River and the Minnesota border. Boven said he decided to run because he felt his experience could be an asset to the town, and he found himself with a little more time to devote to it. Boven retired from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources in 2011 as a forest fire management supervisor. He has previously served on church council, ending his term in 2012.
Leading up to the election, Boven approached Mike Hogeterp, director of the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue, for advice on serving as a person of faith in public life. Hogeterp said he was able to share some resources from the Christian Reformed tradition’s “rich history of thought and action” on this topic. Sharing from his own speaking on the topic, Hogeterp said he “emphasizes the importance of seeking justice and the common good as a first posture of Christ-inspired political service.”
Boven, Toles, Shortreed, and their fellow council member Lincoln Dunn meet twice per month as a council; each serves on other committees or boards for the township as part of their role. Town clerk/treasurer Bridget Foster is also a member of Emo CRC.
To these and other Christians eager to seek municipal office Hogeterp said, “Thanks! Public service is hard work that is too often misunderstood and scorned. Committing to the oftentime thankless job of public leadership is a courageous act, and it’s an important contribution to our shared lives.”