In the October 24 municipal election, residents of Wellesley’s Ward 4 will have two candidates on the ballot, Bob Caskanette and Claude Hergott.
As a candidate for ward 4 in Wellesley, Bob Caskanette is hoping to carry on a tradition of serving the community he calls home.
“My family has a very long and proud history of being elected members of various municipal governments throughout Ontario, including within Wellesley Township. I’m at least the fourth generation in my family in this regard, and I’m excited to continue in this tradition of trying to serve my community,” Caskanette.
Caskanette has resided in the region since childhood and has been living in Wellesley for the last five years with his wife and son.
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“We have frequented Wellesley Township our whole lives… so it’s a place we’re happy to call home. My son goes to school in St. Clements and plays most of the sports in St. Clements. It’s just a wonderful place to grow up and raise a family,” he said.
Caskanette is also looking to be a voice for others who feel they are not being heard and be an advocate for all residents.
“I feel like some people might feel that they don’t really have a voice and they’re not really being heard in recent years,” he explained. “Especially throughout the pandemic, as well, as it just seems like nobody’s really listening to each other.… Sometimes, people, referencing council, feel like they’re not being heard. They feel like sometimes they’ll show up and they’ll try to voice an opinion about something and they feel like maybe it’s either not being taken seriously or they don’t have the proper amount of time and they’re being cut off or that just nobody thinks that what they’re saying is important.”
Caskanette, who currently works as a licensed environmental and forensic engineer for a consulting firm in Kitchener, says he will rely on his work experience to be that voice for residents.
“I’ve always kind of thought of myself as a good communicator. I’ve been the VP of marketing for my firm as well, so I’m used to doing presentations and meeting and speaking with people. I’m good at advocating for people and I strive to be an advocate for everybody in our community and give them the voice that they’ve been looking for.”
Among the issues he hopes to address include library expansion, road safety-particularly excessive speed issues and youth employment levels.
“There are more jobs for young people getting more trades workers, maybe looking at different ways of creating jobs within our township. One of the things that I hear is young people aren’t able to access rides into the city and they’re not able to get the transportation that they need to get to certain jobs if they don’t have a vehicle,” he explained.
Caskanette suggested looking at rideshare options, with or without the township’s involvement.
While the township does have needs, there is also the need for responsible spending, Caskanette noted.
“That’s not to say that any money has been wasted on anything that isn’t needed, but I just want to be an advocate for responsible spending and responsible budgeting… I think that’s very important, especially in a smaller township such as ours, where we might not have as much tax revenue to use as cities, obviously.”
Claude Hergott, as longtime employee for the Township of Wellesley and now Waterloo Region – as well as nearly two decades as volunteer firefighter in St. Clements – says he will look to rely on that experience and knowledge if elected to represent residents in Ward 4.
‘I think that with the experience with the township as an employee and with the fire department, I can be useful at the council table. I already have a really great understanding of the inner workings of the township and the staff,” Hergott said.
Hergott, who grew up on a farm outside of St. Clements, says he has had a wide range of experience in many different fields.
“I worked in Northern Ontario for 10 summers as a fire ranger with the Ontario government and came back in the off seasons and worked around down here for different local construction contractors. And then ended up working at the YMCA camp at Paradise Lake for 10 years as the maintenance supervisor,” he explained
After the YMCA, he worked for Mapleton Township for two years before spending five years in Wellesley’s roads department. He now works for the region’s public works department.
Now is the right time to run for council, Hergott said.
“My kids are older now, and I’m having more free time. I have three boys so we were at hockey a lot. They grew up through the Twin Centre Minor Hockey, and they’re done now
“There’s been a lot of talk in town about who will be replacing Coun. [Carl] Smit, and I was approached by a few different residents and they suggested I should run,” he said.
Given the ongoing work on the new recreation centre, Hergott acknowledge the importance of the operating budgets for it and similar facilitates.
“I think one of the big challenges will be managing a budget to try and keep both arenas, St. Clements and the new Wellesley arena, operating. It’d be a lot of budgeting issues, but I have to wait and see. The budget process is something new for me at the council level anyway.”
Hergott would also look to address the need for senior housing, something that he called a “longstanding issue.”
“There have been different options on the table but they’ve all been turned down and I’d really like to see something in the future here. We need to get something going and there are little pockets of land that can be developed and I just think we need to find a way to do it,” he said.
While Hergott will push to get issues resolved quickly, he will not be afraid to ask questions.
“I think I can voice [residents’] opinions. I’ll address their concerns. I’m not afraid to ask questions, so if there’s questions to be asked, I’ll bring it forward to the staff or to the other councillors,” he said.