Epp places third in Ward 7

The results may not have come out the way Ward 7’s youngest candidate hoped they would, but she is not looking at her campaign as a disappointment. Laurier student Erin Epp – the only student running in the election – finished with 819 votes, for the third-highest total in Ward 7.

Epp placed behind only eventual winner Melissa Durrell’s 1653 votes and Peter Woolstencroft’s 987.

“I’m so touched at the support I’ve had through my entire run and that that many people voted for me,” said Epp. “We came in middle of the pack and I’ve got a really great crowd behind me and I couldn’t be happier with the people that are here with me.”

Despite coming up short in the results, Epp’s campaign manager Sean Geobey commends his candidate’s efforts, acknowledging that she went far beyond what her opponents likely expected of her.

“The platform Erin came up with was by far the most comprehensive and research-heavy platform of all the candidates running in our ward,” said Geobey. “What that meant was that she really shaped the debate. Even though there were a couple big questions that were on the debate no matter what, Erin was able to put forth things that weren’t on the agenda until she put them there.”

According to Geobey, Epp’s success in this campaign also signals an encouraging shift in student involvement in city politics.

“Seeing Erin run for city council at 22 [years of age] and perform so well, being a serious contender in a Ward with a number of tough candidates says a lot to her capabilities and the capabilities of young leaders in general,” he said. “The power that university students who are 18, 19, 20 years old have is usually far beyond what people think it is and I think Erin will be a great inspiration for future leaders.”

Much like in Ward 6, which features the University of Waterloo and the Northdale neighbourhood, relations between students and permanent residents is a volatile subject in Ward 7 (which encompasses Laurier and Uptown Waterloo). Through her campaign, Epp brought the student perspective to light and hopes that new Ward 7 councillor Durrell will give more attention to student needs than past councillors.

“I just hope [Durrell] takes a new approach to city issues,” said Epp. “I hope that there’s something more comprehensive and creative than police law enforcement because I think it’s been proven that that system doesn’t work. I think we need a new approach and I hope she knows that.”

Geobey is confident that Epp’s efforts will “force city hall to pay a lot more attention” to student issues.

As for her future in politics, the 22-year-old Epp intends on continuing to serve her community in whatever way she can.

“I come from a background of community work and I plan on doing community work for a long time,” she said.

“If that takes me into running again and being more political, than sure I’ll do it, but I think I’m going to wait a little while to make that decision.”