Countdown on for candidates to file for 2022 election
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Countdown on for candidates to file for 2022 election

Woolwich’s Ward 3 saw two candidates file nomination papers this week – one a former councillor and the other a newcomer to municipal politics – bringing the total to five declared candidates in the township.

Bonnie Bryant, a former councillor in the ward, is joined by first-time candidate Kayla Grant in vying for Ward 3’s two seats. Both are Maryhill residents.

Incumbent Mayor Sandy Shantz is seeking re-election, with current Ward 1 Coun. Patrick Merlihan having been the first off the mark to file papers for the mayoralty. He was followed by Eric Schwindt filing to run in Ward 2. Incumbent Fred Redekop has yet to declare.

Three of the current councillors – Murray Martin (Ward 3), Scott McMillan (Ward 1) and Larry Shantz (Ward 3) – say they’ve yet to make a decision on whether to run again in the October election.

The filing deadline for nomination papers is August 19 at 2 p.m.

In Wellesley, incumbent Mayor Joe Nowak was first to file nomination papers. Ward 1 Coun. Shelley Wagner said she submitted her paperwork last Friday.

Current Ward 4 councillor Carl Smit said this week he’s not seeking re-election. Neither Herb Neher (Ward 2) nor Peter van der Maas (Ward 3) has declared his intent.

Wellesley deputy clerk Amy Harron notes that ahead of the 2018 election, six of what would eventually be 10 candidates had filed with three weeks remaining to the deadline.

As it stands, then, the only position for which there is a race is the mayor’s job in Woolwich, where clerk Jeff Smith said it seems, anecdotally at least, that candidates are waiting longer to file than in recent elections.

His department is responsible for preparing for the elections, from dealing with filing deadlines to ordering voting supplies and lining up the contractor to provide the technology allowing residents to vote.

“We’re already starting to work on election supplies. Some of the things we need are the basics, pens and pencils; we’re sourcing out our ballots already,” he said, adding there are contingencies for the ongoing pandemic.

“We’re also even preparing … for some hand sanitizer, PPE and stuff like that, just in case the seventh wave that we’re in gets any worse and there’s a call from either the province or public health to do masking or any of that nature. On that side, so we’re also working with our internet and phone voting vendor, and we’re going to be configuring the voting system. That’s in progress right now.”

The focus is on digital voting – via internet and telephone – but the township has ordered enough paper ballots to cover demand even if everyone opts for that method.

“We  want everyone to feel comfortable that they can they can choose whichever method they feel most comfortable with,” said Smith.

In the 2018 election, 85 per cent of voters in the township cast an electronic ballot remotely by internet or phone (93 per cent and seven per cent, respectively), while some 15 per cent attended township voting sites to make their selections.

In Wellesley, the vote will be strictly digital.

“We will have no paper ballots available at all during the voting period. Eligible electors will need to cast their ballot electronically,” said Harron, noting voters will receive information by mail starting at the end of September.

With voting day set for October 24, the next deadline is the nomination period that wraps up in three weeks. With that in mind, Smith said he and his department are ready to assist those interesting in becoming candidates.

“Our website is kind of our main source of information –  lots of information for candidates there on the ‘information for candidates’ page. We’ve got our election procedures. We’ve got the candidate’s guide. We’ve got the Ontario school board resource guide for school board trustees. There’s a little section on election signs and advertising, campaign finances, all that kind of stuff.”

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