Woolwich voters get a chance to pick a candidate in Ward 1 and Ward 2
ONTARIANS GO TO THE polls October 22 to vote for their municipal representatives. Thanks to the new electronic voting system, Woolwich residents can cast their ballots as of October 9.
While the mayor’s position and Ward 3 seats have been filled by acclamation, there is a race for Ward 1, with three candidates vying for two spots, and a pair of candidates facing off to be the new representative for Ward 2.
JULIE-ANNE HERTEIS Incumbent councillor Julie-Anne Herteis is running for her second fullterm as the representative for Ward 1. A resident of Elmira, Herteis hopes to bring both her professional experience as a former Woolwich councillor, as well as her distinct lived experience, for an empathetic approach to local politics.
“I was a single mum quite a few years ago,” said Herteis. “I’ve been to the food bank, lived in Ontario housing. I started at the bottom in life, and I think I’ve done pretty well working my way up. So I have a lot of experience that way. Cultural, social, those types of things that I think a lot of people who are in politics really don’t have.
“I think a lot of people who are in politics really don’t have [that experience]. Not a lot of people know what it’s like to be on the ground floor.”
Though Herteis is finishing the term as an incumbent on Woolwich council, she did not start that way. Having previously served as Ward 1 councillor from 2010-14, Herteis chose not to stand for re-election in 2014. However, after the resignation of councillor Scott Hahn earlier in 2018, Herteis stepped up and offered to fill the role until the election this month.
“Everybody brings something different and unique. Some people are strictly business people. Some people are farmers, some are community organization oriented,” said Herteis. “I have little bit of everything. I am like a Jack of all trades.”
SCOTT MCMILLAN The current chair and Woolwich/Wellesley trustee on the Waterloo Region District School Board, McMillan is now seeking his first term on Woolwich Township council. He hopes to bring a commitment to good process, an enthusiasm for municipal planning, and his experience on the school board.
“I think it’s where the rubber meets the road, it’s where you get the opportunity to have a direct impact on people’s lives,” he explained. “It’s why I enjoy being involved in elected politics at this level, so that’s why I’m running for council, to try and help people.”
During his time on the school board, McMillan said he earned a reputation for being a more conciliatory member and mediator within the oftentimes fractious group. He was chosen by his peers on the board to act as chair just partway through his first term.
“I think that that ability to sit there at that table, and make decisions that affect 460,000 people, and have tens of millions of dollars riding on those decisions, I think it creates a level of confidence that can help when you’re at a table like Woolwich Township. So I think my experience at the school board is the thing that distinguishes me against the people who are so far nominated to run in Ward 1,” he said.
McMillan, an Elmira resident, previously worked as a junior hockey coach, and is currently an associate financial advisor at the Cooperators in Elmira. PATRICK MERLIHAN Patrick Merlihan, the incumbent for township’s Ward 1, is seeking a second term in office. The founder and co-owner of the Woolwich Observer, the Elmira resident is keen to bring a discerning eye and critical voice to the township’s dayto-day governance.
During his four years in the position, Merlihan notes that he kept to his promises and fought for constituents interests, though not always to satisfactory ends.
“They’re not all highlights,” he said, of his efforts. “That’s the unfortunate part.”
Merlihan said he led the charge on saving the local transfer stations, which were ultimately closed by the regional government despite his efforts. Public transportation has been another challenging portfolio, he notes, with regional interests often trumping those of the township. Merlihan is keen to continue pushing for local residents’ concerns, however.
“What I bring to the table is more than 25 years in media, in the communications business. I bring a business background, which I use every time we sit at the council table. I bring the ability to ask the pertinent questions and get results for residents when they do have issues with the municipality,” he said.
“Probably my biggest asset is, coming from a background in the media. As journalists when we craft stories we come from a position where we start with the facts and truth, and build our story around those. As politicians, you start with an idea and then try and find the facts that are going to support your idea.”
FRED REDEKOP Fred Redekop is another newcomer to the political race for Ward 2 in Woolwich. A former pastor at the Floradale Mennonite Church, Redekop is interested in contributing to the community as a member of council.
“This is an opportunity for me to learn about politics and for me to give back to the community,” said Redekop, who is now retired.
He said he hopes to bring a socially minded perspective to township council meetings, garnered through his many years of experience with the church.
“I bring to the table an ability to listen. I was a pastor at the same church for the last 25 years, so I know the art of listening well to people, the art of compromise and the art of working together,” he said.
Currently a resident of Elmira, living outside the Ward 2 boundaries, Redekop previously lived in Floradale for 24 years where he raised his family and worked. He’s volunteered with a number of organizations, including coaching house league sports, as well as with social service groups.
“I’m a community person,” he said. “I’ve sat on Woolwich Counselling [Centre] board for almost nine years, which is a social service agency in town. I served on the local college board at the University of Waterloo as a volunteer, the Conrad Grebel University College board.”
If elected, Redekop will replace the incumbent councilor Mark Bauman, who will be stepping down this term from the position.
ERIC SCHWINDT A newcomer to the political arena, Eric Schwindt is running for his first term as Woolwich Ward 2 councillor. A long-time resident of the township and business owner, Schwindt would like to foster the economic and entrepreneurial capital of his community.
“I like to ask the question, how can we make life easier for business in Woolwich? To attract business, to make them want to grow, make life easier more competitive,” said Schwindt
“In the past I’ve seen a few instances where I think that maybe we haven’t opened our arms as well as we could have,” he says. “And in today’s economy, my belief is that funding from the province and the feds is going to decrease over time, and maybe quickly. So as a township we got to be creative and open our arms a little bit to business.”
Schwindt, who lives north of Elmira, is the owner of Genex Ontario, which sells breeding stock to farmers across the province. He also serves on the board of the Ontario Pork organization’s board, and coaches minor hockey in Woolwich. He ran for council in 2010, but failed to unseat incumbent Mark Bauman, who is retiring from the position at the end of the term after 18 years.