Wellesley voters to pick mayor, councillors for pair of township seats
ONTARIANS GO TO
THE polls October 22 to vote for their municipal representatives. Thanks to the new electronic voting system, Wellesley residents can cast their ballots starting October 9.
While Ward 1 and Ward 4 have been filled by acclamation, there is a twoway race for mayor, and the same is true in Ward 2. Residents of Ward 3 have three candidates to chose from.
MAYOR JOE NOWAK
Joe Nowak is running for re-election for mayor of the Township of Wellesley. He has resided in the village for 38 years with his wife, Barb.
“It has been an honour and a privilege to serve the residents of Wellesley Township for the past four years,” said Nowak. “I sit on the Waterloo North Hydro Board, the Grand River Conservation Authority, and Kiwanis Transit Board.
“To me, it’s all about community building,” said Nowak of the job. “One of the first things I got involved with when I moved to Wellesley was the establishment of the cooperative preschool. A group of parents approached me and identified the need. So we set to work – I was the chair of that committee, we worked at the region and found the funding and went through the entire process. That preschool is up and running and still strong today. When you get some success like that, it motivates you to move forward.”
He has previously served as a councillor for Ward 3 for two terms and has a BA in economics from the University of Waterloo.
Bernia Wheaton is an economic development officer aiming for the position of mayor. She has lived in the town for 23 years with her children.
“I’ve been fortunate over my 13 years of working for municipal governments that I’ve had some really good examples of rural leaders and rural mayors who have lead by pretty good example to me,” said Wheaton. “From council, I’ve watched from a distance at how they do their thing. By September 2017, I was really watching some of the local issues here in Wellesley Township.
“I think that I have a lot of experience in rural municipal government, I feel like I’m fairly well-connected in the community, but certainly to the issues that local businesses and local residents are facing. So I feel like I’m uniquely qualified to run and on October 22nd, people will get to choose.”
She is also involved in the community through her creation of the cooking classes with a different theme each week, e.g. making salsa in “Born to be Mild” or chili in “Some Like it Hot.”
WARD 2 MARK WITMER
A newcomer to the political arena, Mark Witmer is running for the Ward 2 seat. A resident of the township since 2002, Witmer said he was keen to bring in new ideas and a fresh perspective to the local government.
“Being new to it, there’s a lot I’d have to learn,” said Witmer. “But I have been to council meetings and seen that there’s a lot of head nodding and stuff like this, where I’m thinking, let’s really take a magnifying glass and look at this a little further. Maybe we would change our mind.
“The vanguard that’s there, they’ve been there for a while, some of them. So maybe it’s time for a change.”
Witmer is a resident of Wellesley village, living outside the boundaries of Ward 2.
“I do not live in the ward that I am running in. And the reason I did that is [Ward 3] already had many people in it,” he said. “The main reason I wanted to get in was to help out. Well, I’ll go somewhere where they needed people.
“I’ve talked to some of the people already. There are some traffic concerns that they want to look at. There’s already some land issues that are already on the table with the old council. There’s some bylaw issues that some people were interested in me looking into, if I was to get on [council], in enforcement.”
Witmer opened MW Enterprises business in Waterloo in 1984, and mainly works in water treatment and drinking systems. He’s recently started taking a smaller role in the company.
Herb Neher is seeking his fifth term as councillor. A long-time resident of the township, Neher has long kept an eye on the municipality’s bottom line, emphasizing fiscal prudence without overlooking the people.
“Well I ran first of all because I thoroughly enjoy the work as councillor. I think I’ve been very effective and I believe that I’ve served my constituents and the township very well over the past 12 years. So I decided to run again,” said Neher.
“I’ve just enjoyed this kind of work, dealing with people and trying to help them out any way that I can. And, of course, making sure that they get the best for their dollar,” he said.
The seasoned councillor has had a diverse employment background, previously working as a private investigator, as well as the manager of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board office in Kitchener. Neher studied psychology and human relations at Ryerson University.
“I think I bring to the table a lot of experience. I bring to the table human resources, I’m very familiar with human resources, understanding people. I’m very good at problem solving. I have a good analytical mind, and I’ve dealt with budgets for years and years: big, big budgets. So I’m quite familiar with the budget processes, and how sometimes we can and should reduce things.
Neher is currently a resident of Ward 2, in Crosshill.
WARD 3 PETER VAN DER MAAS
Peter van der Maas is the current Ward 2 councillor, now running for re-election. He has lived with his wife, Anne-Marie, in the village for some 30 years.
“We’ve always been pretty deeply involved with the community,” said van der Maas. “Anne-Marie was a couple of terms as the president of the PTA. I served on community centre boards, on minor sports – I coached a lot of sports.
“Twenty-six years on the Lions, volunteered at the ABC [Festival], we just did all sorts of stuff. So when I retired, it became a natural extension. We said ‘we’re interested in the welfare of the village, we know people, we have a pretty good idea of what the community here is like – I think I can make a contribution.”
Van der Mass worked as a teacher at the Waterloo Region District School Board. He has degrees in English/history from York University as well as faculty of education from the University of Toronto.
Joyce Barker is a realtor running for the position of Ward 3 councillor. She has lived with her husband, Dave, in the village for nearly 20 years.
“I think I’m running because I have a passion for the village that I live in,” said Barker. “I like to be involved, I keep up on the issues that the people are facing right now. I have since I first moved here; I’ve been volunteering since I first moved here.
“I think as a councillor, I bring a lot to the table. As a former business owner. As a realtor, I understand about land, I understand about housing costs. I bring a lot of diversity to the table that I feel would benefit at the council.”
She has volunteered at the Wellesley North Easthope Fall Fair and is former president of the Wellesley Horticultural Society. She has her broker’s license and studied sociology at the University of Waterloo.
Grant Kingsbury is a regional vice-president of sales and marketing at Catalyst Finance. He has lived in the village of Wellesley for five years with his wife, Kirsten, and lived in the Waterloo Region for a decade. He is running for Ward 3 councillor because he wants to see a change in the village.
“It’s about the needs and wants of the community,” said Kingsbury. “As an example, if I want to see one of the buildings painted white, but the community wants to see it purple... well, then they go purple. It’s about the numbers, it’s about what the community wants. Not about what one person or five people think ... we have to make sure that everybody’s involved.”
He grew up in a small town in southwestern Ontario and attended University of Windsor. He also served in the military in the Royal Canadian Regiment (Infantry). Kingsbury is an active member of two softball leagues.
Ward 1: Shelley Wagner Ward 4: Carl Schmidt
Peter Van Der Maas