Redman ramp­ing up for new role as chair of re­gional coun­cil

The Woolwich Observer - - NEWS - VERON­ICA REINER

WHEN A NEW COUN­CIL is sworn in next month, Water­loo Re­gion will have a new chair for the first time in more than three decades. Karen Redman hand­ily won the race to re­place Ken Seil­ing, who re­tires at the end of this term.

Redman amassed 62 per cent of the to­tal votes, beat­ing out lawyer and for­mer North Dum­fries mayor Robert Deutschmann, who had ap­prox­i­mately 19 per cent, fol­lowed by busi­ness ex­ec­u­tive Jan d’Ailly with around 10 per cent, and then busi­ness owner Jay Aissa with nine per cent.

“I was very grat­i­fied to see that I had sup­port through­out the re­gion,” said Redman of the elec­tion re­sults. “Be­cause I think all parts of the re­gion are very im­por­tant. We worked hard and had a great team; it’s a nice re­sult, and def­i­nitely a re­flec­tion of how hard we worked.”

Redman iden­ti­fied the pro­tec­tion of the coun­try­side line, a bound­ary that pro­tects farm­land from the pres­sures of ur­ban sprawl, as a key is­sue for the re­gion’s ru­ral town­ships. Her other fo­cus is­sues in­clude push­ing the prov­ince for all-day GO Tran­sit ser­vice and a so­lu­tions to the opi­oid cri­sis.

“I’d like to con­tinue to be pro­gres­sive as we look to the fu­ture be­cause it’s a very chang­ing land­scape,” said Redman. “At­tract­ing in­vest­ment, tal­ent and man­u­fac­tur­ing will con­tinue to be a com­pe­ti­tion for Water­loo Re­gion to shine in.”

Yet to be sworn in as chair, Redman con­tin­ues just now in her role as a re­gional coun­cil­lor, meet­ing with her col­leagues to pre­pare for next month’s tran­si­tion.

Seil­ing chose to re­tire this year, af­ter serv­ing as re­gional chair for 33 years. He has seen, and par­tic­i­pated in, plenty of changes to the re­gion in that time, such as the in­te­gra­tion of the “no smok­ing” ban in pub­lic places, cre­at­ing a Water­loo Re­gional Arts Fund that sup­ports artis­tic in­di­vid­u­als and groups, and large-scale pop­u­la­tion growth.

“I think we’re main­tain­ing a lot of what has al­ways been im­por­tant and es­sen­tial for the peo­ple of this re­gion,” said Seil­ing. “At the same time, I think we’re man­ag­ing the growth that’s tak­ing place. I think by and large the com­mu­nity still has the feel it had many years ago – of con­nect­ed­ness, com­mu­nity work, and know­ing peo­ple.”

He ad­mits that man­ag­ing the de­mand for af­ford­able hous­ing is a real chal­lenge, as there is con­stantly a need for it. Over­all, he is op­ti­mistic about the fu­ture of the Water­loo Re­gion.

“I have great con­fi­dence in Karen to carry on,” said Seil­ing. “She has lots of ex­pe­ri­ence, both lo­cally and fed­er­ally. We also have a pretty strong re­gional coun­cil right now. I think that a new chair who has been on coun­cil, and a coun­cil that has some new blood but lots of con­ti­nu­ity, I think that bodes well.”

In­deed, there will be new faces join­ing the re­gional coun­cil next month fol­low­ing the re­sults of the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion, such as new Cam­bridge mayor in Kathryn McGarry.

The new coun­cil will also be mixed with fa­mil­iar mem­bers, in­clud­ing in­cum­bent Wool­wich Mayor Sandy Shantz and Welles­ley Mayor Joe Nowak.

“Karen has a col­lab­o­ra­tive style, and I found her very open to con­sid­er­ing the needs of the town­ships. For ex­am­ple, she sup­ported the round­about in Welles­ley,” said Shantz of an ex­am­ple where sup­port from ur­ban coun­cil­lors helped over­ride staff op­po­si­tion to ru­ral in­ter­sec­tion im­prove­ments.

Cit­ing that ex­am­ple, Nowak pointed out other oc­ca­sions where Redman sup­ported ru­ral is­sues.

“As CEO for Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity, she was in­stru­men­tal in bring­ing the first Habi­tat build to Welles­ley Town­ship,” said Nowak. “Her ded­i­ca­tion to that cause was ob­vi­ous, and her abil­ity to work with com­mu­nity mem­bers in bring­ing that project to fruition is, I think, a good indi­ca­tion

of how she will man­age the af­fairs of Water­loo Re­gion with com­pas­sion and ded­i­ca­tion.”

Redman brings decades of po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence to the ta­ble, hav­ing pre­vi­ously served as a mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for Kitch­ener Cen­tre, a Kitch­ener city coun­cil­lor, and re­gional coun­cil­lor.

Aside from po­lit­i­cal roles, Redman most re­cently served as CEO for Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity Water­loo Re­gion for seven years and chair of the In­de­pen­dent Liv­ing Cen­tre board. She has a de­gree in English and a master’s de­gree in po­lit­i­cal science.

[VERON­ICA REINER / THE OB­SERVER]

Cur­rently a re­gional coun­cil­lor, Karen Redman takes the chair when a new group is sworn in next month.

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