There will be a race in Woolwich; two, in fact, as the addition of a final newcomer into upcoming municipal election will see three of the township’s six council seats being contested.
Fred Redekop was the final candidate to join the election before the cutoff last Friday. A newcomer to politics, the Elmira resident will be running opposite Eric Schwindt in the township’s Ward 2, which is the area covering the northern half of the township, including the settlements of Floradale, Heidelberg and St. Jacobs, but excluding the populous town of Elmira.
Redekop and Schwindt will be seeking to replace the ward’s long-time incumbent Mark Bauman, who announced his retirement earlier this year.
“This is an opportunity for me to learn about politics and for me to give back to the community,” said Redekop of his reasons for entering politics.
Formerly a pastor with the Floradale Mennonite Church, Redekop says that he hopes to bring a social perspective with him, if elected to council.
“I bring to the table an ability to listen. I was a pastor at the same church for the last 25 years, so I know the art of listening well to people, the art of compromise and the art of working together,” said Redekop.
Unlike Schwindt, Redekop is currently living outside the Ward in which he is running. Redekop says he was a resident of Floradale for 24 years, raising his four children there, before moving to Elmira three years ago to downsize his home.
In the neighbouring Ward 1, which covers the town of Elmira, there are three candidates running for council. Unlike Ward 2, however, Ward 1 has two seats, recognizing the ward’s larger population.
New entrant Scott McMillan will be running against the Ward’s 2 incumbents, Julie-Anne Herteis and Patrick Merlihan. Though a newcomer to Woolwich council elections, McMillan was previously elected in 2014 as the school board trustee for the townships of Woolwich and Wellesley. During his term with the board, he served as the chairperson, putting him in a leadership position with the Waterloo Region District School Board.
McMillan will be seeking to replace one of the two councillors in the upcoming election.
Occupying one of those two seats is Julie-Anne Herteis. Despite being a member of the council, Herteis did not actually run for election in 2014. Rather, she was appointed to the position by Woolwich council earlier this year to fill a vacancy after Scott Hahn stepped down.
Herteis had previously served as a Ward 1 councillor from 2010 to 2014. She explains that after Hahn stepped down in January, she offered to fill the position, temporarily, until the election. However, after returning to the council, she remembered how much she enjoyed the work, and was motivated to run again in the election herself.
“I really enjoyed it. I mean, I say I enjoyed it. There were time when it was frustrating and it could be heartbreaking at times, depending on the situation. But for the most it was good to know that you can help people,” she said.
While Herteis an experienced politician, having served a term on council, she notes that she did not come to her position through the typical route.
“I have a background where I’ve been through a divorced family… I’ve been a single mum quite a few years ago,” she says. “I’ve been to the food bank, lived in Ontario housing. I started at the bottom in life, and I think I’ve done pretty well working my way up. So I have a lot of experience that way. Cultural, social, those types of things that I think a lot of people who are in politics really don’t have.”
Also in the running is fellow incumbent Patrick Merlihan, who will be seeking a second term in office.
“My initial motivation [to run] was just to keep an eye on council, and not feeling like the council of the day was asking the right questions, or asking any questions at all,” he said.
A founder and co-owner of the Woolwich Observer, Merlihan says was hopes to bring a critical voice to the council meetings and to the municipality’s operations.
“It’s been an honour to serve the residents so far. What I bring to the table is more than 25 years in media, in the communications business. I bring a business background, which I use every time we sit at the council table. I bring the ability to ask the pertinent questions and get results for residents when they do have issues with the municipality,” he said.
The Woolwich council’s remaining three seats, meanwhile, will be unopposed in the election Ward 3 incumbents Larry Shantz and Murray Martin went unopposed for the ward’s two seats on council. Similarly, Mayor Sandy Shantz will not be challenged in the municipal election, which will be held on October 22. All three will return by acclamation.