Calling his first term on Woolwich council “a real learning experience,” Allan Poffenroth looks to bring political-knowhow back to the table as he seeks re-election in Ward 1.
“I wasn’t planning on running again, but I just got thinking about the learning curve and wondering about if someone is elected and they are a first timer, they will have to go though the learning curve. But after you have gone through it you have a better understanding of how things operate and a better method for asking questions that get answers, while also getting people to think your way.”
Poffenroth will compete for one of two positions up for grabs with former councillor Ruby Weber and newcomers Scott Hahn, Dan Holt and Sebastian Siebel-Achenbach.
The lifelong Elmira resident and local realtor says his first four-year term was eye-opening.
“Like many taxpayers, I felt like municipalities weren’t spending money wisely and that everybody who worked for the municipality was well paid,” Poffenroth said of his political views prior to holding office. “Once when you find out about the issues behind what is happening, you understand where a lot of the things come from.”
He continued, “On the surface, things may look one way, but if you delve deeper, there are reasons for what is happening and they are good reasons most of the time.”
But Poffenroth still considers himself a fiscal conservative.
“I’ve tried to look out for the taxpayer of the township, and where I felt we could cut back, I made sure to promote it. The thing is you have to really work together as a council and you have to be able to get the agreement of your colleagues because if they aren’t on your side, it doesn’t matter if the taxpayers agree with what you are saying, you won’t get very far.”
Take the proposal for upgraded street lights on King Street North in St. Jacobs, as an example, added Poffenroth.
“The township (management staff) thought they should put in fancy street lights in St. Jacobs and it was going to cost ($237,000) and I thought that was just totally wrong. I think I helped convince the other councillors to determine that it wasn’t a wise way to spend taxpayer money.”
He learned much of his political tact from colleague Mark Bauman, the four-term councillor for Ward 2.
“I see and hear Mark Bauman, the questions he asks and the things he says and I see a lot of wisdom in the way things work with him,” said Poffenroth. “I certainly don’t always agree with him, but seeing how somebody operates who has had a lot of experience makes me feel like I can be more forceful during a second term.”
Looking back, Poffenroth says he is most proud of the infrastructure projects the township has undertaken during his tenure.
“Every year there is a road being redone and it’s done correctly with proper water (lines) and sewer (systems)… We haven’t been putting infrastructure off, and we have continued to collect money (the infrastructure reserve fund) for those purposes.”
Maintaining service levels at their current standards while keeping taxes down will continue to be the priority, said Poffenroth.
Voters across Ontario will head to the polls on October 27.