Joe Nowak is seeking another four-year term as mayor of Wellesley Township in October’s municipal election. He hopes his decades of experience, heavy involvement in the community and progressive leadership style earn him a return to the position.
“I think one of the things that was important to me when I was elected was that we have a forward-looking, progressive type of administration here,” said Nowak. “And one of the first things we did was we hired a chief administration officer. And that’s exactly what we were looking for in a CAO; somebody that was progressive. Somebody that realized some of the challenges that we have now, but also looked to the future; you know five, ten, 15, even 20 years down the line as to what this community is going to end up looking like.”
The administration has made plenty of progressive decisions over the years, he says.
“We’ve converted all our lights township-wide to LED,” said Nowak. “We’ve got the first results of that. That initiative is saving the taxpayers approximately $3,000 a month in hydro costs. So we’re very pleased with some of the progressive work we’ve been able to accomplish over the past four years.”
Other changes that have been made include the upcoming construction of a new library in St. Clements, aiming to better serve the residents of the community and students nearby. There was also the creation of a township website at www.wellesley.ca which is open to accepting feedback from the residents, as well as a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter.
Nowak says making the executive decisions for the town is not always easy, due to the occasional backlash. But his decision-making process factors in the community as a whole.
“A mayor has to look at how a vote affects the entire township,” said Nowak. “So if something is voted on in the village of Wellesley, whatever it may be, it will impact, especially if there is money involved, that vote will impact the entire township. It has to. And I think that’s how a mayor has to look at his position. And that’s not easy; it’s not easy, because you get people in town that certainly aren’t going to be happy with some of the decisions or some of the votes that I make. I think that happened with the kennel bylaw as well. But I think if you aspire to leadership, you have to be able to be willing to make those decisions. You have to make decisions based on what is going to be good for the whole population, and not just a few. And, like I say, it’s not always easy.”
“Joe’s concern as the head of council is to represent balance,” added Coun. Peter van der Maas. “And Wellesley is the busiest of the four wards because we’ve got the most construction, the most residents coming up. And that’s just the way things go.”
In order to be as involved in the community as possible, Nowak is a part of the many groups and committees including the Economic Development Committee, Ecological and Environmental Advisory Committee, the Library Committee, Waterloo North Hydro Board, Waterloo Region Affordable Housing Master Plan, and the Waste Management Advisory Committee. Being a mayor is a full-time job and the workload can be tremendous, he said.
Another issue that is important to Nowak is growth of the community and affordable housing. He has watched the community of Wellesley triple in size over the 38 years that he has been a resident, and hopes to see that growth with other communities in the area.
“I oftentimes walk through the park at night,” said Nowak. “A couple weeks ago, I walked through the park in Wellesley. Every ball diamond was packed with people, the community-accessible playground was packed, the splash park was packed, both the soccer fields were filled with kids. It was just phenomenal to see. That youthful demographic shift that’s happened in that community. And I wish we could see that in other communities.”
He also has an open-door policy in an effort to be transparent with the community.
“If you have a question, gosh call me,” he said. “I like to let people know where I stand, whether they agree with me or not. When I’m taking a stand, I think of what is good for the entire community.”