Prepping the polls for the Region

One of the councillors running for re-election, Jane Mitchell (Photo by Heather Davidson)

One of the councillors running for re-election, Jane Mitchell (Photo by Heather Davidson)

A string of familiar faces have announced their intention to run for re-election in the Region of Waterloo’s upcoming election on Oct. 27.

Regional councillors Jane Mitchell and Sean Strickland, among others, have made it clear that they want to remain in regional office for another term.

Councillors are elected as representatives for their city or township.

Mitchell has been a regional councillor since the year 2000 and Strickland has been involved with public office since 1993, both as representatives of Waterloo.

Prior to their involvement in regional government, neither candidate had experience as a professional politician. In fact, there are very minimal restrictions for running for Regional office — any ordinary citizen can do it.

“To run for office you would need to run for a regional councilor position or a city council position, pay $100, have to be over the age of 18 and a Canadian citizen,” Mitchell said when asked about the requirements to get a name on an election ballot.

“They are just ordinary people who come through, most of us haven’t gone to school for political science.”

Prior to her 13 years of service with the Region, Mitchell was a local librarian. Strickland was the executive director of the Food Bank of Waterloo for 15 years and a minor league hockey coach.

“I was actively involved with my community at a young age,” Strickland said.

Despite the open accessibility to run for regional office, many candidates are familiar politicians. While Mitchell and Strickland have both submitted their names for regional re-election, a third familiar candidate has emerged.

Karen Scian, a councillor for the City of Waterloo, is hoping to make the leap from municipal government to regional.

“It’s just the three of us who are registered,” Mitchell explained. “But it is still early for people to put their names in, that usually happens in April or May.”

At present, there are two councillors and the mayor representing Waterloo at Regional council.

In total there are 16 representatives — the four mayors from each township as well as corresponding regional councilors.

The chair of Waterloo Region, Ken Seiling, is also planning on returning for another term.

“Over the past few months I’ve received a lot of pressure from all around the community to stay involved in local politics,” he said. “I’ve been doing it for a long time, there are a lot of things that I find important and things that resonate with a lot of people.”

On that list is the Light Rail Transit, which will certainly be an important topic during October’s election. Dave Macdonald, one of the mayoral candidates for Waterloo, has openly discussed his intention on shutting down the LRT project.

However, Seiling, Mitchell and Strickland all feel that the LRT project needs to stay.

“The fact of the matter is that we have made a decision focusing on building the LRT and shaping the future for generations to come,” Strickland said.

“We have gone way too far down the road just cancel this and there is a $500 million construction tender in the next six weeks to come in.”

“It would cost millions of dollars to cancel the contract before December rolls around.”

Seiling also weighed in on LRT, explaining his belief that Waterloo has “grown to its limits” and that LRT is needed to continue growth and expansion within the community.

“I think it would be most unfortunate that leadership wouldn’t want to support the LRT,” he said.

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