Elec­tion sees all in­cum­bents re­turn to Wellesley coun­cil

Mayor Joe Nowak edges first-time challenger Ber­nia Wheaton by just 23 votes; two coun­cil­lors also win, two ac­claimed

The Woolwich Observer - - NEWS - VERON­ICA REINER

WELLESLEY’S GOV­ERN­ING BODY WILL have a very fa­mil­iar look, as all of the in­cum­bents have been re­turned to of­fice.

Joe Nowak held onto his seat in a very tight bat­tle for the may­oralty, edg­ing challenger Ber­nia Wheaton by just 23 votes.

In Ward 2, Herb Ne­her will be back af­ter tak­ing 150 votes to Mark Wit­mer’s 84. Ward 3 in­cum­bent Peter van der Maas faced three chal­lengers, com­ing out on top with 593 bal­lots cast in his favour. That was fol­lowed by Joyce Barker at 433, Grant Kings­bury with 338 and Philip Mor­ris, who had dropped out ear­lier, at 27.

Ward 1’s Shel­ley Wag­ner and Ward 4’s Carl Smith al­ready knew they’d be re­turn­ing, hav­ing been ac­claimed.

“I’m pleased ob­vi­ously, it’s hum­bling to have that num­ber of sup­port­ers out there,” said Nowak af­ter the re­sults had been an­nounced. “I think we had a very pos­i­tive cam­paign. I’m just very hum­bled.”

Nowak re­ceived 1,271 votes to Wheaton’s 1,248 when the fi­nal tally came in Tues­day night, 24 hours later than ex­pected due to tech­ni­cal prob­lems with the on­line vot­ing sys­tem.

The in­cum­bent said his first or­der of busi­ness is to look at the town­ship’s mix of hous­ing.

“We need a lit­tle bit more di­verse hous­ing stock. We need en­try level; we need se­niors. I think each of the com­mu­ni­ties has that same chal­lenge,” he said, not­ing the is­sue will be part of the Re­gion of Water­loo’s re­view of its of­fi­cial plan, an over­ar­ch­ing plan­ning doc­u­ment.

“It’s al­ready started, so I’m look­ing for­ward to be­ing a part of that. Hope­fully, we can con­vince them that they should look at some of their com­mu­ni­ties and see how we can work to­gether to ad­dress those short­falls.”

One thing that both may­oral can­di­dates agreed upon was the no­tice­able in­crease of com­mu­nity in­ter­est in the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion. Nowak and Wheaton said they spent plenty of time speak­ing to res­i­dents about town­ship is­sues.

“What I feel like is peo­ple were pay­ing at­ten­tion in this elec­tion,” said Wheaton. “Peo­ple were ask­ing the ques­tions. I feel like we ran a solid cam­paign. We worked hard; we had a lot of sup­port, peo­ple asked ques­tions. I would spend two hours a night re­spond­ing to texts, Face­book mes­sages, emails, peo­ple ask­ing the ques­tions that needed to be asked.”

“I did knock on an aw­ful lot of doors,” added Nowak. “And what I heard at the doors was a very pos­i­tive re­sponse to some of the work we’ve been do­ing in the past. They wanted to spend more time ac­tu­ally talk­ing. I would eas­ily spend 15, 20 min­utes with some of the folks out there. They shared their vi­sion, and I shared my vi­sion, and for the most part, they were very sim­i­lar.”

Tak­ing the loss in stride, Wheaton ex­pressed her de­sire to run for a po­lit­i­cal po­si­tion in the fu­ture.

“I truly have en­joyed meet­ing peo­ple, even knock­ing on doors – it’s hard work,” said Wheaton with a laugh. “But I’ve re­ally en­joyed it. I’ve en­joyed how re­cep­tive peo­ple have been. That was one non-re­gret is to savour the mo­ment all the way through and ap­pre­ci­ate the op­por­tu­nity and sup­port that I had along the way to do it.”

These re­sults come a day later than ini­tially planned due to tech­ni­cal is­sues that oc­curred on Mon­day night at around 6 p.m. The on­line vot­ing ser­vice op­er­ated by Do­min­ion Vot­ing Sys­tem be­gan ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fi­cul­ties ac­cept­ing votes around this time, re­sult­ing in the town­ship ex­tend­ing the vot­ing un­til Tues­day at 8 p.m.

The delay sur­prised both town­ship staff and res­i­dents, a mi­nor mal­func­tion in their first-ever paper­less, on­line elec­tion. Wool­wich ex­pe­ri­enced sim­i­lar dif­fi­cul­ties, as did some 50 other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Though the delay forced can­di­dates to wait an­other day for the re­sults, most took in it stride.

“I think the com­pany did the right thing with the ex­ten­sion,” said Nowak. “I think the sys­tem worked well other than that glitch. I think we know what caused it; we just need to make sure it doesn’t hap­pen again.”

For more de­tails about elec­tion re­sults, see the town­ship’s web­site, www. wellesley.ca.

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