Former Ward 1 councillor Julie-Anne Herteis will step into the vacant Elmira council seat. She’s to be sworn in March 6, replacing Scott Hahn, who resigned in January.
Herteis was selected by the five remaining councillors from among 10 candidates at a special Woolwich council session Tuesday night, winning three of five votes cast on the first ballot. The other two votes went to Dan Holt, the first runner-up in the 2014 municipal election.
The voting process lasted only minutes in what appeared to be an orchestrated effort that placed Herteis’ experience above all other considerations. Eight of the nine candidates, who had previously made written applications outlining their bids for the seat, made pitches to councillors who listened but asked no questions of any of them.
Along with those from Herteis and Holt, applications were received from township residents Kathleen Bailey, Kevin Betts, Ron Campbell, Sujeet Chaudhuri, Linda Cooper, Jacqueline Hanley, Fred Redekop and Eric Schwindt. As well, another applicant, Ibikunle Oluwojure, withdrew from contention earlier on.
The Ward 1 seat became vacant in January when Hahn stepped down, citing time constraints due to a new job. He was first elected in 2014, along with fellow first-time councillor Patrick Merlihan. Holt finished third among the six candidates who ran in Elmira.
In going with the application process, council rejected both holding a special election and appointing a runner-up from the 2014 election, the two other options available. In the end, Mayor Sandy Shantz and Ward 3 councillors Murray Martin and Larry Shantz made short work of things, opting for Herteis. In keeping with their previous positions, Merlihan and Ward 2’s Mark Bauman went with Holt as the logical candidate.
“I don’t want it to be a political issue,” said Merlihan of voting for Holt, who won more than a thousand Ward 1 votes the last time residents went to the polls.
He noted that putting someone else in the seat would give them something of an advantage as the incumbent when Ontarians vote again in municipal elections in October.
Citing the steep learning curve and just months left in the term, Coun. Shantz maintained that Herteis’ experience was the biggest factor in picking a replacement, with that sentiment echoed by Mayor Shantz.
Afterwards, Holt said he wasn’t surprised by the outcome.
“It was pretty obvious what was going to happen,” he said, noting the process drew a number of strong candidates.
“I do hope some of these people do run [in October], he added, though he has yet to decide if he’ll make another bid for office.