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New mayor leads tide of change

Woolwich council has a whole new complexion, with only one incumbent set to return in the next session.

With residents voting for change, newcomer Todd Cowan will be a mayor presiding over a council of first-timers.

Ward 2’s Mark Bauman, who’s served since 2000, will be the only voice of experience.

Cowan upset four-term mayor Bill Strauss by taking 2,777 votes to Strauss’ 1,483. Former Ward 1 councillor Pat McLean, the third candidate in the race, finished second with 1,784 votes.

In Ward 1, where at least one new face was expected as incumbent Sandy Shantz declined to run again, there will in fact be two new people at the council table. Long-time councillor Ruby Weber finished third with 1,178 votes, making Allan Poffenroth (1,775 votes) and Julie-Anne Herteis (1,257) the new representatives for Elmira.

Jim David garnered 747 votes and Mary Young, who removed herself from the race shortly after nominations closed, still managed to get selected on 297 ballots.

Ward 3 also has a new councillor. Bonnie Bryant will replace four-term incumbent Murray Martin, winning 818 votes to Martin’s 681. Maryhill resident Doug Nichols was third at 266.

In Ward 2, Bauman survived an early scare – the first poll reporting had challenger Eric Schwindt up 134 to 57 – to eventually post a 735-to-478 victory, 60.6 per cent of the vote.

The results seem to reflect an air of change in the township leading up to Monday’s election. Ward 3 was particularly volatile given residents’ concerns about gravel pits proposed for areas close to residential areas of Conestogo, West Montrose and Winterbourne.

Mobilized residents backed Bryant’s candidacy at the ward level and Cowan for mayor, which may have been a factor in the change at that level too. Given a higher turnout rate than seen in recent elections – 36 per cent versus 27 per cent last time out, for instance – change was the likely outcome. Traditionally, a larger turnout reflects the public’s desire to vote against something.

While disappointed with the results, Strauss said he’s happy with what he’s accomplished during his 26 years in municipal politics, including 13 as mayor.

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