Wool­wich wel­comes two new coun­cil­lors to the ta­ble

Scott McMil­lan in Ward 1 and Fred Re­dekop in Ward 2 will join Coun­cil

The Woolwich Observer - - FRONT PAGE - FAISAL ALI

AF­TER AN ELEC­TION BE­SET by last-minute de­lays and un­cer­tain­ties, the Town­ship of Wool­wich fi­nally has an out­come for its mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion – 24 hours later than ex­pected.

In Ward 1 (Elmira), which has two seats on Wool­wich coun­cil, in­cum­bent Pa­trick Mer­li­han will be joined by new­comer Scott McMil­lan. Ward 2 will see Fred Re­dekop take over the po­si­tion from long-time councillor Mark Bau­man, who is re­tir­ing at the end of this term.

“I’m re­ally happy,” said McMil­lan, shortly af­ter the re­sults were an­nounced. Though a new­comer to the coun­cil, McMil­lan pre­vi­ously served as a lo­cal trustee and chair for the Water­loo Re­gion District School Board. “You know, it’s a long cam­paign, and it’s a lot of work, and de- lay­ing the an­nounce­ment of the re­sults kind of just height­ened the sus­pense. So it’s a big re­lief, and I’m re­ally ex­cited.”

McMil­lan claimed the largest share of votes in the town­ship’s most pop­u­lous ward, win­ning 1,997 of the near-5,000 bal­lots cast in Elmira. In­cum­bent Mer­li­han won his sec­ond term in of­fice with 1,665 votes. Plac­ing third and thus for­feit­ing her seat at the ta­ble was in­cum­bent Julie-Anne Herteis with 1,336 votes.

Herteis, who pre­vi­ously served as Wool­wich councillor from 2010 to 2014, stepped into the Ward 1 seat again ear­lier this year af­ter the res­ig­na­tion of councillor Scott Hahn.

“It’s like any other job. If they needed help for a [po­si­tion] and I left on good terms, I’d al­ways put my hat in to help them out,”

said Herteis, af­ter the re­sults were called. Whether Herteis would con­sider run­ning again in the next elec­tion she said was un­cer­tain.

“That’s four years down the road. You never know what hap­pens in life, right? Life hap­pens. Life hap­pens when you make other plans,” she said.

First elected in 2014, Mer­li­han is re­turn­ing for a sec­ond term.

“I feel great. I’m quite pleased with the re­sult,” he said. “It’s kind of be­ing in­vig­o­rated for the next term. I had some ini­tia­tives that I wanted to cham­pion, se­niors’ hous­ing be­ing one of the cor­ner­stone ones that came up dur­ing the elec­tion. And I kind of feel val­i­dated to con­tinue work­ing for Ward 1 res­i­dents.”

In Ward 2, which en­com­passes the north­ern half of the town­ship, in­clud­ing the com­mu­ni­ties of Flo­radale, Hei­del­berg and St. Ja­cobs, but ex­clud­ing Elmira, Fred Re­dekop emerged from the vote vic­to­ri­ous. The first­time can­di­date claimed 631 votes, ahead of his only op­po­nent, Eric Sch­windt, who gar­nered 469 votes.

Re­dekop, cur­rently a res­i­dent of Elmira, pre­vi­ously lived in Flo­radale, where he also worked for many years as the pas­tor of Flo­radale Men­non­ite Church.

Round­ing out the re­main­ing mem­bers of Wool­wich coun­cil are Mayor Sandy Shantz, and Ward 3 coun­cil­lors Mur­ray Martin and Larry Shantz, all of whom ran un­op­posed and were ac­claimed to their po­si­tions.

With the elec­tion over, at­ten­tions are soon bound to turn to the new elec­tronic vot­ing sys­tem that ran into tech­ni­cal prob­lems on Mon­day, elec­tion day. The ser­vice, pro­vided by Do­min­ion Vot­ing Sys­tems, ex­pe­ri­enced se­vere slow­downs just hours be­fore polls were set to close on Mon­day, pre­vent­ing vot­ers from cast­ing their bal­lots and forc­ing the elec­tion pe­riod to be ex­tended an ad­di­tional 24 hours in Wool­wich and neigh­bour­ing Wellesley Town­ship.

The mal­func­tion was not ex­clu­sive to the area, how­ever, but in­stead was re­port­edly ex­pe­ri­enced by 51 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties across the province that chose to use the Do­min­ion sys­tem.

“Well, I was dis­ap­pointed that the on­line elec­tions were ex­tended be­cause of these is­sues,” said Mer­li­han. “I didn’t sup­port on­line vot­ing back when the town­ship de­cided to go this route, specif­i­cally for these types of con­cerns. And I would sup­port go­ing back to pa­per bal­lots in fu­ture elec­tions.”

McMil­lan, too, was crit­i­cal of the elec­tronic vot­ing sys­tem, say­ing a re­view was needed.

“It’s just too bad. I mean ob­vi­ously we need to have a full re­port from Do­min­ion to know ex­actly what went on. But I think most im­por­tantly we’ve got to tip our hats to the Wool­wich Town­ship staff. This was not their do­ing,” he said. “It was a break-down on [Do­min­ion’s] end, so hats off to the Town­ship staff that worked through this the last 24 hours.

“We’ve got to find out what hap­pened, and then make the ap­pro­pri­ate de­ci­sions go­ing for­ward af­ter that,” he added.

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