Re-elected for a third term Monday, Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz will have new faces around the council table in the next term.
Shantz garnered 3,929 votes in the October 24 municipal election, while challenger Patrick Merlihan, currently a Ward 1 councillor, received 2,857.
Neither incumbent ran in Ward 1, so two newcomers – Evan Burgess and Nathan Cadeau – will join council next month. In Ward 2, Eric Schwindt defeated incumbent Fred Redekop, while in Ward 3, former councillor Bonnie Bryant and first-time candidate Kayla Grant prevailed.
Shantz says she is looking forward to working on the township’s strategic plan which was put on hold because of the pandemic. And while there was discussion about conducting the work and public consultations online, Shantz says that idea didn’t sit well with her.
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“That kind of planning needs to be done in person,” she said. “I think it will be a really exciting process because that will set the stage for where we’re going as a township over the next five or 10 years.
“I will continue to do the very best I can to represent the township and the needs that we have here,” she added, noting the campaign highlighted again for her the importance of giving people the opportunity to get involved.
In Ward 1, Evan Burgess and Nathan Cadeau won the seats with 2,055 votes and 1,510 votes respectively. Behind Cadeau came Dan Holt with 1,304 votes and Cheryle Baker with 822.
Burgess said running the campaign was a great experience.
“I enjoyed connecting with local residents and hearing their thoughts, concerns and vision for this community,” he said.
For Cadeau, it’s a new experience to go along with his arrival in Elmira three years ago.
“As a relatively new resident to Elmira, I did find it challenging to get my message out. I printed out some flyers and walked around the community dropping them off at as many houses as I could get to. I would chat with people at the gas station pumps and the checkout lines. I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to chat with me about their hopes and visions for the future of Elmira,” he said.
“I would like to give a shout-out to the four candidates from Ward 1. Cheryle, Dan, and Evan all ran incredible campaigns. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing ideas with you three. It is heartening that there were four candidates that feel strongly enough about Elmira to raise their hand to serve.”
Eric Schwindt won the Ward 2 seat with 618 votes, beating out incumbent Fred Redekop’s 483.
“Meeting people and talking about local issues,” was the best part of campaigning, said Schwindt. “Everyone’s engaged and likes talking about home.”
In Ward 3, Bonnie Bryant took one of the two seats with 1,223 votes. Kayla Grant took the other with 1,104 votes. Paul Bolger and incumbent Murray Martin each had 807 votes and 631 votes respectively.
Grant said she was grateful for the support she received from the community.
“It reaffirmed my belief my community is supportive. People are incredibly kind,” adding she also gained an appreciation for the diversity in the township. “When you are out talking, you get so many different perspectives.”
Bryant said the biggest challenge was “trying to connect with as many people as possible. I had a great team of people working with me to cover the ward,” adding “people want to be a part of a community. They want to feel connected and not forgotten.”
After the results were posted, at a post-election gathering at his home, Merlihan gave words of encouragement to newly elected Grant and Schwindt. He let them know he’ll be there if they need him, and encouraged them to keep their work and actions in the public eye.
All the members of the council are eager to get to work and represent the electorate. All of them expressed their gratitude to their support and helpers. They hope that in turn, people will continue to be engaged in local issues and council.
Said Shantz, “You elect a few people to represent you on council, but we need to hear from you what’s important to you and why it’s important to you. And then it’s our job to put all those pieces together.”
The voter turnout was 34.7 per cent, up from 31.8 per cent in 2018.