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Election Day is Near!
So, who has my support?
We are just over two weeks away from Election Day 2022. Hopefully you have had a chance to learn a little more about who is running and who might be worthy of your vote. (Scroll to the bottom of today’s post for resources on finding out more about Waterloo Region candidates if you’re still deciding). A number of people have asked me for my opinion on candidates in their ward or municipality and wondered if I might write a post with my recommendations for and against certain candidates. As much as I follow local politics closely, with so many seats, municipalities, and townships locally, it’s a lot of candidates to keep track of! So, I have concluded that I simply can’t speak knowledgeably about the vast number of candidates running this Fall. However, as a resident of ward 9 Kitchener, I have been watching that ward extra closely, so I’ll share a few of my thoughts on ward 9 as well as some of the regional council and school board candidates in Kitchener.
There are six candidates running in ward 9. They are: Debbie Chapman (incumbent), David Redman, Matthew Robson, Alex Shevchenko, Brooklin Wallis, and Beth Warren. You can find all of their contact info in my post on Kitchener Candidates. You can also watch a video recording of the Sept 25th ward 9 all candidates meeting hosted by Victoria Park and Cherry Park neighbourhood associations. Rogers changed their format this year, but you can watch candidates respond to a handful of questions here. Hopefully all of those links will help you decide who to vote for in ward 9. But, perhaps you have already decided and are just here to find out what my thoughts are on all of this, so let’s jump to that!
First off, I simply can’t vote for Alex Shevchenko because I know absolutely nothing about them. They did not attend any of the all candidates meetings and their only listed contact information is an email address. As someone who has run for council before, I am left very confused by why someone would run for council but not seemingly participate in any way.
Matthew Robson also won’t be getting my vote. My only knowledge of Matthew is from the Sept 25th candidates meeting. I felt he was disrespectful to the organizers and other candidates. He got up and down many times, walked away from the table only to return several minutes later, and required many reminders to wear a mask (a requirement for everyone in attendance). It’s unfortunate too as I think Matthew’s experience in urban planning could have provided some important context into much of the housing discussion that dominated the meeting. However, his behaviour that night was not reflective of what I want to see from an elected official.
David Redman seems like a quiet-spoken, mild mannered person who seems to love his community and sees running for council as a way to give back. I respect that. I would have loved to see a website from David though to get a better understanding of his priorities and vision for ward 9 and Kitchener as a whole. My opinion, therefore, is only based on the candidates meetings where it was clear that David had reflected on some of the issues facing the community. However, I was left with the sense that he really loves the city as it is now, and while he’d be accepting of some intensification and growth, he would not be the strong housing advocate I’d like to see representing this ward.
Beth Warren seems to really have a heart for those who are unhoused and also to give back to her community in some way. Beth also doesn’t have a website that I am aware of. Although she does have social media, those accounts don’t seem to be used to highlight why she is running or what she’d like to accomplish if elected. Beth did mention that she rents and I think that gives her a perspective that is too often missing on our local councils. However, I am left without enough information to confidently vote for her.
So that leaves two candidates left for me to decide between - current councillor Debbie Chapman and newcomer Brooklin Wallis.
I’m sure we all know by now that incumbents hold a significant advantage over new candidates, but did you also know that the order that names appear on a ballot also impacts things?! While incumbents have an advantage, they also have 4 years in the role that we can base our vote on - for good or bad.
There are a number of things that Debbie has supported during her term that I agree with - the largest one being municipal snow clearing of sidewalks. However, there have been several issues that I was surprised or disappointed by Debbie’s votes on, including voting against the Vision Zero plan (instead preferring a Kitchener ‘traffic safety policy’) and the Belmont Village development (reduced to 10 storeys from the original 13). I was also surprised by how often Councillors Chapman and Gazzola (who I consider Kitchener’s perennial right wing voice on council) voted in alignment, including advocating for a 0% tax increase (likely resulting in a reduction in city services) at budget time. And while Debbie did vote in support of the DTK cycling grid, she made note that she did so ‘with reservations’.
I actually don’t expect to agree with any particular councillor all of the time, of course. However, I have been discouraged by many of Debbie’s views on housing, but likely none more than her proposal for a moratorium on all downtown development. I have previously written about my concerns with such a proposal. Yet, I think what concerns me even more than the proposal itself is what is (or isn’t) being done about it. Was this a serious proposal from Councillor Chapman? If so, why has it not been brought to council as a motion? If there was never any intention to act upon it, why suggest it at all? Like me, the Record seemed to believe she was genuinely “ calling for a moratorium on development in the core area” but nothing seems to have come of it. I reached out to Councillor Chapman several times to learn more about if/when this was going to council but I never received a response. When we did have a chance to connect in-person at her campaign launch earlier this year, she told me that she didn’t “need to justify” herself to me about the proposed moratorium. Now, to be fair, I can be a ‘bit much’ to deal with as an (overly?!) engaged citizen. But, I found her dismissive response disappointing.
So, that leaves one candidate, Brooklin Wallis. I have had a chance to connect with Brooklin a couple of times this year, including on this Midtown Radio interview. Brooklin’s website outlines her priorities and many of them align with my values, including: more affordable housing, supports for the unhoused, pedestrian-focused infrastructure, and green cities. However, I am also excited not just about Brooklin’s platform, but also about her own lived experiences. As Brooklin notes on her website: “To properly represent their constituents, council needs the input of low-income workers, renters, transit users, Queer people, and people without a car... and our current councillors can’t provide that.” I think Brooklin’s experiences are quite different from many of our elected officials. I often hear people say that they are tired of politics because nothing ever changes. If we continue to elect the same people time and again, we are just reinforcing that idea. However, it’s election season and we have a once-in-four-years opportunity to disrupt the status quo. I think Brooklin is our best chance at that for ward 9 so I’ll be voting for her on Oct. 24th.
Ward 9 residents can also vote for Regional representatives and school board trustees. I have just a few thoughts on those races as well.
For Regional Council (4 representatives), Colleen James and Matt Rodrigues have my full support. I also think that Michael Parkinson and Rob Deutschmann are strong candidates.
For the Waterloo Region District School Board (4 trustees), I’ll definitely be voting for Madeith Radlein and Meena Waseem. I think Laurie Tremble and Joanne Weston are worth considering as well. There are a number of candidates who I have strong concerns about, especially for trustees. I don’t want to give them any more of a platform than they already have, so I’ll just remind you that, while you can vote for up to four trustees, you don’t have to select that many. Please only check the voting boxes of candidates that you fully support.
Well, those are some of my thoughts on Ward 9 specifically, and a bit about Kitchener as a whole. But, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are there candidates that you are excited about? Who and why? Feel free to comment!
Or, perhaps you have not yet decided. Feel free to check out my other posts on the municipal election including: Waterloo Candidates, Cambridge Candidates, Kitchener Candidates, and Region of Waterloo Candidates. Also, the folks from CivicTechWR have a great website for finding out all sorts of great information about this Fall’s election.