Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2022/ Municipal Preblather

Municipal Preblather

Oh look. I'm throwing out political opinions the day before an election.

Difficult Issues

There are a number of issues that have come up consistently during this election for which I feel there are no easy answers. Here are soe of them.

I feel that the discussion around housing affordability deserves its own entry. Maybe the encampments do too. I do not think anybody has good solutions here, and I especially do not think anybody has quick solutions. But clearly these are the two issues that are on top of many people's minds.

Personally, I am quite concerned about the infrastructure deficit. I feel the Region has been trying to keep up with sewer upgrades and such, but I would bet that we are still pretty far behind.

I am also quite concerned about finances. Thanks to COVID all levels of government are broke, and a common refrain I hear (especially from incumbents) is that we need to lobby other levels of government for additional funding. This is not going to work. Meanwhile, property taxes are regressive and there are a bunch of overhoused seniors (read: voters) on fixed incomes who are clinging onto their incredibly expensive single-family detached housing. They will not tolerate big property tax increases, and especially will tolerate increases so we can build (largely unused) bike lanes and have five minute transit service to the suburbs. Honestly I think municipalities need a different, less regressive revenue stream, but I am highly skeptical Doug Ford would allow any such thing.

I am quite upset about the housing developments we are allowing on the outskirts of town. At Bleams Road and Trussler they are putting up a new housing development of single family homes. They are going to take 50 acres of woodlot/scrub and turn it into 250 units of housing. That is ridiculously bad. Furthermore, it is generating problems down the road. When those homeowners age out of their houses in 40 years, where will they go? They will face the same problems today's retirees face: in order to downsize they will have to leave their communities, so they hold on to their giant empty houses.

As I have written previously, I am a single issue voter: I support the Countryside Line, and with the housing affordability crisis there will be a lot of pressure to pave over farmland. Already it looks as if Kitchener is going to develop right up to its borders. We need the Countryside Line to remain firm. I think a majority of Regional Council will continue to support the Countryside Line, but I am not sure -- my prediction is that Regional Council will shift significantly to the right after this election.

Voter Turnout

I predict voter turnout won't hit 50% anywhere, but I could be wrong about that. I feel it will be healthiest in Waterloo and Wilmot, where there are two active mayoral races. My suspicion is that turnout will be depressed everywhere else, but with the public school trustee tire fire I am not sure.

The housing affordability/encampment issue might also drive voters to the polls, but there are not many distinctions among the serious candidates on these issues. Everybody agrees affordability is an issue, most people would like something done about the publicly visible encampments, and realistic solutions are thin on the ground.

Ward 10 Kitchener

My primary source of information for Ward 10 was the Oct 2 debate held by some Kitchener neighbourhood associations (Part 1, Part 2.) Four candidates attended this meeting: Aislinn Clancy, Peter Davis, Stephanie Stretch and Phong Tran. Lana Hiscock did not attend because apparently she was ill, and Daniel Fife did not attend because he did not agree with the requirement to wear a mask for the event. Hiscock did attend one of the Rogers Q&A sessions, so it is unfair of me to dismiss her entirely, but in practice that is what happened.

I listened to this debate quite a while ago so many details are fuzzy, but my lasting impression was that I was pleasantly surprised. All of the candidates had their strengths and weaknesses, but I would be okay if any of them won office. All four of them have direct experience with the poor, and so understand some of the challenges in dealing with poverty in Kitchener. For the most part all seemed fairly familiar with challenges in the city, and many of them had nuanced takes.

Aislinn Clancy is campaigning hard on environmentalism and climate change. Her drawback is that some of her talking points seem simplistic, and on at least one occasion (when discussing heritage buildings) I got the sense that she was pandering to the audience. But on many other questions she demonstrated some good depth and insight.

Stephanie Stretch has good experience in the nonprofit sector here and lots of ties to the community. I have a conflict of interest in that although I don't think I know her personally, I used to work with her husband at the cult. My vague sense was that she would probably be the most direct replacement for Sarah Marsh, if that is what you are looking for.

Peter Davis is probably the least likely of the four to win, and being just another white guy probably does not serve him well, but even he has some good experience (Ray of Hope, Out of the Cold), and some solid policy proposals. He is the staunchest pro-intensification candidate, I think; when asked to pander to heritage considerations he clearly stated that when the two were in conflict he would prioritize density.

I was prepared to dislike Phong Tran on the basis that his platform seems NIMBYish -- prioritizing greenspace and "safety". But he really impressed me with his thoughtfulness and nuance during the debate. As the owner of a small business downtown he sees the issues firsthand, and I think he understands them well. Tran has also worked his way up through the farm system; he has served on some Kitchener advisory committees, and it shows.

The closing remarks were pretty interesting. Peter Davis said that he was worried because we were in crisis, with homelessness and climate change and many other issues. Phong Tran said that we were in the best situation we have ever been, with Kitchener thriving and full of opportunity. Neither is wrong!

My feeling is that Clancy and Stretch have been campaigning the hardest, with Clancy having an edge. But lots of people like Phong Tran and Matter of Taste, and he could sneak in that way. I don't think that people who hate encampments and want the bulldozers out have a clear candidate among these four, although Tran is probably closest.

For those interested in Clancy vs Stretch, Sam Nabi broke down their responses to several questions in the debate. I do not endorse all of Nabi's conclusions but his summary is good.

Ward 9 Kitchener

There are a bunch of candidates running but it seems to me that Debbie Chapman is a lock. The people on Reddit and waterlooregionconnected dislike her because she sides with the NIMBYs, but she has incumbent advantage and has been canvassing hard. I have not played close attention but I do not feel she has been a disaster, and don't think she will be one when re-elected.

As far as I can tell her only real competition is Brooklin Wallis. Brooklin has been active in some of the forums I have been monitoring, and her performance in different debates and Q&A sessions has been reasonable. She has lots of thoughtful policy platforms on her website. But she does not have the ground game or resources to compete in this race against an established incumbent. My guess is that she will come in a definitive second.

Those who want to bulldoze the encampments probably want to vote for Alex Shevchenko, but as far as I can tell he really has not been campaigning much. He did not participate in any debates I listened to.

Regional Chair and Kitchener Mayor

I feel many people are not thrilled with Karen Redman as Regional Chair, and I am one of them. I am not happy with her approach to encampments, for one thing. However, neither of her competitors are suitable and it would be a disaster if either won office. If you don't want a disaster but don't like Redman then maybe leave this position blank?

Similarly, the Kitchener Mayor race has no real competition. From what I can tell on Twitter Manikantan Nair is making an honest attempt to campaign, and he is doing his best to sling mud at Vrbanovic, but nothing much is coherent or impressive. The final straw for me was this tweet, where Nair states: "Would be nice to have Safe injection site right inside City Hall or Politicians office.." Seriously? This guy is running for mayor and is unaware that the supervised consumption site is kitty-corner from City Hall? Good grief.

Val Neekman seems to want Kitchener to have the same prestige as Waterloo for tech stuff, which is bizarre. He also thinks the LRT was a big mistake because it made driving downtown difficult. Nonetheless he comes across as somebody who might not be an awful city councillor. There is no way he should be mayor.

Milos Sokollu Posavljak is the guy with the masks. I have not heard anything from Rehman-Ullah Khan at all.

Regional Councillors for Kitchener

My primary source of information here was the Chamber of Commerce debate, although I did listen to the Rogers TV Q&A when it first came out. This is probably the most important race I am voting for, but even as I write this I am not sure what I will decide. Overall I have been disappointed with how understated this campaign has been.

I support one candidate fairly strongly, but even this comes with caveats. I was impressed with Rob Deutschmann's run for Regional Chair in 2018, and since then Deutschmann has been quite active in the community. He has attended UnionSD meetings, and my understanding is that he participates in other housing-related groups as well. If nothing else the Old Grey Mayors podcast is amazing, and he deserves my vote based on that alone. Through this podcast it is clear that Deutschmann understands how municipal governments work, and what they can and cannot accomplish. It is also clear that he understands that new programs cost money, and that you have to have a modicum of fiscal responsibility to get things done. He makes a lot of his run as Mayor of North Dumfries from 2010-2014, and while this is relevant (and will be helpful given the council has so many new faces) it is also a bit of a flag: Deutschmann quit after one term because balancing the duties of mayor, sitting on Regional Council, and managing his law firm was too difficult and he burned out. We can hope that will not happen again, but given the challenges Regional Council faces this term, I am not sure. Nonetheless, I do not hold this against him too much -- if he is running, he has some sense of what is involved.

Even saying all this, Deutschmann has been a disappointment this campaign. Given his heavy presence in 2018 I was expecting to see a lot more of his signs for this campaign, and (like so many others running for Council) I have seen barely any. He has attended all-candidates events and responded to most of the surveys advocacy groups have sent out, but I was expecting him to make a bigger campaign splash, and as far as I can tell he hasn't. I hope he is not depending on name recognition to carry him to victory this time around.

You will notice from the FABWR Survey that he has an awful lot of red squares in their evaluation of him. But when you read his full-text response below you can see that he does not blindly agree to whatever assertions the FABWR people are making; there is nuance in his positions. On the whole I approve of this.

If Deutschmann gets elected then I expect that he will disappoint me in some ways, similarly to how I was disappointed by Elizabeth Clarke. But I think he is going to be a fiscally-minded, mostly compassionate, fairly experienced voice on council, and that makes a difference.

Beyond Deutschmann the field is much murkier. There are three candidates who (in my opinion) have been campaigning hard for regional council: Mac Graham, Colleen James, and maybe Matt Rodriges. Other candidates have had some presence, but not nearly as much.

Mac Graham is a definite "no" for me. I think he is interesting, and his heart might be coming from the right place, but he is the only one openly advocating for moving or destroying the Countryside Line to build more housing, and that is a clear "no" for me. (Curiously, he is also the only regional council candidate who can somehow afford giant lawn signs everywhere. I am sure there is no connection between these two things.) Graham is a "big ideas" guy: he wants to bring the Kitchener Aud downtown (where???) and then redevelop the existing Kitchener Aud space for housing. This is insane, but Daniel Glenn-Graham also had insane ideas (digging a lake?) and he turned out to be an okay councillor once he was finally elected.

Colleen James has been campaigning hard, and it seems that she has a solid campaign team (which I suspect might be the local NDP machinery, but do not know) behind her. On paper she has experience; she says she spent nearly a decade as a research assistant in Regional Council. Maybe it is elevated expectations or maybe it is bigotry, but I continually expect more policy depth in her answers than I get. She is good at identifying concerns (we are 10-15 years behind on housing, concerns small business face as part of the pandemic) but her proposed solutions tend to be vague. She is clearly positioning herself as the "diversity" candidate in this race, which is fine but I feel not sufficient. Despite my ambivalence I may allocate one of my votes to her.

Matt Rodrigues, on the other hand, is full of policy positions. He is an urban planner and local advocate with the Downtown Neighbourhood Association. In contrast to many of the other candidates he sometimes brings up aspects of problems that other candidates miss -- for example, when discussing small business supports he brought up supports to rural small business. I guess he's fine? I am divided as to whether putting planners (which the associated planning ideologies) on Regional Council is a good idea or not.

Michael Harris is going to win his seat again, but I have been unhappy with his election campaign. He did attend the Chamber of Commerce debate, but skipped out on a bunch of surveys. It is clear that he is taking a fiscally conservative "ratepayers are overburdened" approach to his campaign.

I really want to support Joe Gowing. You may remember that I was impressed with his performance when he ran as a Liberal in the 2018 provincial election. I continue to think that he is a reasonably fiscally-aware, nuanced candidate with some interesting ideas (although I don't think I am on board with his "free transit" plan). Unfortunately his performance at the Chamber of Commerce debate was terrible because his audio kept cutting out, so you couldn't make out anything he said. That is just one instance in an overall campaign, but I don't know why nobody got him to fix his audio during the debate. Also, he has been pretty quiet this campaign, and I do not think he has much momentum.

I also want to support Kari Williams, who is running for the second time for Regional Council (and finished fifth last time around??). Like Rodrigues she was good about bringing up policy positions and nuances that other candidates missed. For example, when talking about supporting for small businesses she brought up the vandalism to businesses downtown. Again, I do not know that she has the momentum to win a seat, but I feel she might be a pretty good addition to Regional Council.

Tom Hiller is interesting. He portrays himself as a non-ideological centrist, and he tries to talk about the underlying systems that are affecting the issues of the day. He also claims to be running for Regional Council for its own sake, not as a stepping stone. But I do not know how much he has been canvassing, and I don't know that he has a team. Unlike many other lone wolves he does not come across as a crackpot (I'm looking at you, Kitchener Mayoral candidates).

Duncan McLean has seemed largely absent this campaign, but he showed up for the Chamber of Commerce debate (I guess he has no choice, given that his brother Ian is the president). I remember him running for things before, and he seems to have a reasonable grasp of the issues. Unlike the others he brought up seniors a lot; I wondered whether this was pandering to elderly voters, but there is no question that it is a real issue.

Michael Parkinson has been campaigning to some degree, and he is on a lot of lefty endorsement lists. He is strong on drug policy and poverty issues. He also has extensive experience in dealing with the Region, because he used to be involved with the Crime Prevention Council. He was strong on those issues, but struggled on other questions until he could move them to his preferred subjects. He was asked for supports to small businesses, but flailed until he was able to bring up property damage and vandalism because of poverty. I don't think he is bad, and he is not your typical old white guy, but I do not know how enthusiatic I feel about him as a Regional councillor. I guess he would be a reasonable replacement for Elizabeth Clarke?

Heather Caron participated in the Rogers Q&A but not the Chamber of Commerce debate. From what I remember, she came across as somebody who wanted to be of service to her community (which was a common refrain among many candidates) but I was not particularly inspired to vote for her. I did not look into her other materials, so this may be an unfair evaluation.

Iffat Sultana Riasat is another one who has been largely absent. At the Chamber of Commerce debate she claimed to be running because she and her son saw the encampment at Victoria Park, and that made her upset. That is fine, but again I ask why her first impulse is to run for Regional Councillor? She comes across as another newbie candidate who does not know a lot about the file.

Soo Bok Lee has some support in the community -- I see her signs around town -- but has no website presence. She also did not attend either of the debates I listened to. She is off the list for me.

Mary Henein Thorn has also been largely absent. She also did not attend either debate. I will be actively upset if she wins a seat based on name recognition.

I still have a lot of thinking to do around these positions. It is important to remember that one does not need to use all four votes, and it is probably better to vote only for those you actively support than to fill in the blanks with "known names".

WRDSB Trustees for Kitchener

Thank goodness for the Victoria Park and Cherry Park Neighbourhood Associations. They worked hard to put on debates for the school trustees and for regional council candidates. I attended (and reluctantly filmed) the debate.

The school board debates are the real tire fire of this election. I feel this Reddit post does a good job of explaining the local controversies, but those are just a pretext for a larger initiative to elect "anti-woke" candidates to the school board councils. Online the discourse is polarized. The image you get from listening to the debate recording is somewhat different.

There is some chance that there is a solid slate of candidates (on either the social conservative or progressive side) gets elected, but I think it is more likely that we elect a mix, and then the question becomes whether that board can work well together.

If you watch the video it becomes clear that one candidate really stands out: Meena Waseem. I can't tell whether she is actually interested in the school board or just using this position as a stepping stone, but she is a charismatic speaker who made lots of good points relevant to first generation immigrant parents in the school system. She is real young and has lots of energy. I worry a little that she will be ground down by the bureaucracy and procedures of the board, but that is quite a small worry. She does not appear on all of the progressive endorsement lists, but in my mind she is a clear winner here.

I was also impressed by Maedith Radlein. She is endorsed by all the left-wing progressives, but during the debate she disclaimed her status as a "woke" candidate. She was a principal, she seems to understand how school trustees work, and I feel she has children at the centre of her platform. I was moderately upset by the buck-passing that goes on ("the province handles that", "we have to lobby for more funding") but that is a common refrain from incumbents overall.

Waseem and Radlein appear on a bunch of progressive lists, so I am somewhat ashamed that I am recommending them as good candidates. I guess I should be more ashamed because the two incumbents (Laurie Tremble and Joanne Weston) also seem reasonable to me. Laurie Tremble used her introduction for a land acknowledgement, which was a bit irritating but completely in character. There was exactly one off-the-cuff question asked during the debate, and I noticed that Tremble, Weston and Waseem were scribbling notes to respond to the question, and the rest spoke off the cuff. That was telling to me. Personally I feel Weston is stronger than Tremble, but either is fine.

I don't intend to vote for the anti-woke candidates because I oppose the polarization and the underlying principles behind the school board takeover. Having said that I would like to say some positive things about Barb Chrysler, who struck me as a pretty reasonable candidate. Unlike many others she talked about her lived experience as a dropout. She also brought up some diversity surveys she participated in, and expressed some genuine concern for those who are marginalized. I do get the sense that she may have fallen down the conspiracy theory hole, but overall I left the debate respecting her. As far as I can tell, she is also the only anti-woke trustee who was brave enough to respond to the Spectrum/OK2BME Survey. The fact that none of the other anti-woke candidates bothered to respond to this survey is telling.

Mike Ramsay did not show up for the debate (apparently he was in Jamaica during the campaign period? I hope he had a good reason for this), but the other two anti-woke candidates Ahmed Kassad and Natasha Miklos were there. Kassad is toeing a fine line; he portrays himself as a centrist who has been unfairly labelled as "anti-woke" just for asking questions(tm) but he doesn't exactly distance himself from the reactionaries either. He also serves as a convenient minority poster boy for the movement. Miklos went through a big song and dance about focusing on the important issues for children and not these divisive identity politics things, but a lot of her Twitter feed consists of anti-woke anti-identity-politics talking points. She may be the most strident anti-woke candidate of the group. Having said that, in person she comes across as much more reasonable than she is online.

There are a bunch of candidates who are stuck in the middle of this culture war, and they will mostly be ignored.

David Kuhn is running again (I think he has been running since 2010?). He and I know each other a little via municipal politics, and I admire his persistence, but he is not standing out as a candidate. He really needs to get together a campaign team to get the word out if he wants to succeed. I think he is improving every time he runs, but he does not strike me as an outstanding candidates.

I have biased sympathy for Christina Meekison because she loaned us her phone so we could record the debate, but I do not think she is going to win a position. The description that comes up for me with respect to her is "grounded". I think she cares a lot about kids, and if I remember correctly she drives a school bus, but she is not that familiar with the role and she does not seem outspoken. If she was willing to assert herself and bring lofty ideological conversations back to basics, I think she would add a lot to the board. But I don't know that will happen.

Claus Dérisma is another newbie candidate. He was friendly and charismatic, but he also did not seem well prepared for the role.

Natasha Rolleman is another young candidate who also may be using the school board as a stepping stone. She had that young-person enthusiasm but like many newbie candidates did not seem that familiar with the role.

I think I covered everybody who attended the debate. The only other candidate I am curious about is Julia Dunham, who is a trans mother with kids in the school system. I really wish she had come to the debate in some way.

As far as I can recall nobody else showed up to the debate. Jeff Musgrave did not attend but left some flyers. I personally feel enough candidates attended that I can make a decision. Having major COVID anxiety myself, I feel bad for discarding candidates who do not show up for in-person debates, but I will note that in Waterloo Ward 7 one of the candidates had COVID and still managed to participate in her debate virtually.

There is a lot of heat in the school board trustee race. Overall my main priority is to prevent imported Republican poison politics from infecting our municipal elections. Obviously I lean towards the pro-LGBTQ+ side of the spectrum (so to speak) but I can sympathise with a lot of the talking points the anti-woke people make as well.

Other Races

Wilmot Mayor and Council

There is a big anti-woke backlash in Wilmot, supposedly. (I am sure it is coincidental that the last council had a lot of female representation, and the anti-woke people want all of those female council members defeated.)

Having said that: I watched one of the Mayoral debates between Natasha Salonen and Jenn Pfenning, and both of them seem like really excellent candidates. Salonen is from the PC party, seems to have a lot of support in New Hamburg, and is more polished than Pfenning, but honestly she comes across as pretty reasonable. Pfenning is less polished but is really nuanced and thoughtful. Furthermore it seems as if the two respect each other. I feel (and hope) that some of this polarization is inflated Internet bluster, because I want Wilmot council to work well.

I do not know much about the other races, but it is my hope that other people in Wilmot are also mostly reasonable.

Regional Council for Waterloo

Jim Erb is going to win his seat handily, I think. After listening to a debate for Regional Councillors I can see why he is so popular. The other seat is a wildcard to me. Many former politicians are pushing Chantal Huinick as a representative, but I don't know whether she has momentum. I have no idea who has momentum, actually. Reddit seems to like Gord Greavette, which surprises me a little given that he is ex-military, but he seems to say the right things.

Overall I don't think I support Jim Bolger, but he had the guts to question bike infrastructure. His talking point is that even if you double cycling with this expensive infrastructure you will be spending a lot of money for little benefit as compared to doing other things like energy retrofits. That was an unpopular opinion, but I agreed with it and respected him for having the guts to say it.

I could probably go through a candidate-by-candidate overview of what I remember about the candidates, but I did not pay close enough attention. Mark Fisher is focused on being a finance guy. James Ball had some interesting energy and tried to argue that being an IT guy was an advantage. John Vieth seemed reasonable but did not strike me as outstanding. I don't remember anything about the others, and you should do your own research (tm).

Waterloo Mayor

I listened to a debate put on by the Vista Hills Neighbourhood Association for Waterloo Ward 2 and Waterloo Mayor. I feel Shannon Weber and Dorothy McCabe are the frontrunners here, although I bet Rob Evans thinks he is a frontrunner too. Kypp Saunders did not attend this debate, so I am ignoring him.

I feel neither McCabe nor Weber would be a disaster. I worry about Rob Evans for his talking points -- he expressed strong support for backyard fires despite other candidates making strong statements for why this was a bad idea. McCabe has been more active online in the platforms I have been monitoring, and I have mostly been impressed with her conduct there. I could only hope that if she was elected she would continue that accessibility on Reddit and other places, but I doubt this would be the case.

(Also: Vista Hills was a big mistake. I am grateful to the Vista Hills NA for recording, but boy howdy the concerns people have there are revolting. They don't want bike lanes but are angry that bus service is bad, but don't want to pay taxes, but want more community centres? Ugh.)


Oh Cambridge. What are you doing to yourself?

As usual the discourse among Cambridge candidates is nasty, especially when it comes to poor people. Both of the Karahalioses are running in different city wards, and I could envision one or both of them winning. (Oy vey.) Meanwhile the mayorality will be between centre-left Kathryn McGarry and rightish Jan Liggett, who has decided that a consumption site is unacceptable and addicts should do drugs at their family doctor offices. There are about three distinct mistakes in that sentence (addicts don't often have family doctors; family doctors are stretched thin already; addicts in doctors offices will scare the normies away) but I guess Cambridge doesn't care. And just like bedroom communities everywhere, the focus is on taxes, taxes, taxes.

The supervised consumption site debate rages on, even though it supposedly has been approved. (Meanwhile the Kitchener site is doing fine. There is very little drama there, from what I can tell.)

I guess it is unfair to pick on Cambridge too much, but boy howdy does that city have problems.

Both of the Regional Council seats are open in Cambridge, but Doug Craig is running, so even though he seems to be barely campaigning I am pretty sure he is assured a seat. Unlike many others, I kind of like Doug Craig in a curmudgeonly way, so I don't have a huge issue with this (while acknowledging that Cambridge overall is a disaster, and Craig was at the helm for much of that.) Craig is a very "Cambridge First" kind of guy and has conservative leanings, but he also has a good head on his shoulders and understands the complexity of municipal politics.

I don't have a great sense of who is likely to get the other seat. Judging from his lawn signs, Prakash Venkataraman has some money behind his campaign, and he might get a bunch of the immigrant/South Asian vote. Tyler Calver is another failed CPC candidate who is running regionally, so maybe name recognition will get him through? I have not been paying enough attention here, so I will be surprised regardless of what happens.

I will say that I was pretty impressed with Piyush Nanda, who is running in Cambridge Ward 2. I was idly listening through the Rogers Q&A for the Cambridge wards, and for some reason he stood out as fairly thoughtful even though he was in the "keep taxes low!!!1!" brigade.


On the one hand, I do not think "being diverse" is sufficient qualification to win political office. I want competent, pragmatic, thoughtful leaders in positions of power, regardless of their background. Paradoxically, I also want diversity around the different council tables. Thus, if there are two candidates who are both adequate, in many cases I would accept the more diverse one. (At least I say I would do that in principle. Looking at whom I supported and dismissed from the Kitchener candidates for Regional Council, I talk a big game but do not follow through.)

My feeling is that Regional Council will have a reasonable amount of sex/gender diversity, but not a lot of cultural diversity. I expect about six women have strong chances of landing on Regional Council: Sue Foxton from North Dumfries (who is acclaimed), Karen Redman, the mayors of Wilmot, Waterloo, and Cambridge (all of whom are likely to be women) and possibly Sandy Shantz from Woolwich. Maybe Colleen James and/or Chantal Huinink will win seats, as might Pam Wolf in Cambridge? I expect 5-7 people on the 16 member Regional Council will be women, which is not phenomenal but not trivial either. In principle women could win every Regional Council seat, but that is not going to happen.

For comparison, there were five women on Regional Council after the 2018 election (Redman, Foxton, McGarry, Elizabeth Clarke, Helen Jowett). So at least the ratio is unlikely to be worse.

However, I do not expect much cultural diversity. Most of the Regional councillors will be older and white. I do not think this will be the case indefinitely: South Asian people love to run for political office, and there are lots of brown people settling in the Region, so I expect councils will get browner in future elections. Whether we will see much representation from people who are neither white nor South Asian remains to be seen.

I think there is a reasonable chance that two councillors on Kitchener City council will be brown, in Wards 5 and 6. I expect 4 out of the 11 members of Kitchener Council will be women, which will be one fewer than 2018. I have not been following all of the ward races, though, so I do not know for sure.

I don't have a good sense about the other councils.

The Uncampaign

Maybe it is just because of the Regional sign bylaw, or maybe it is because of COVID, but it really feels as if many candidates were not campaigning very hard during this election.

Several candidates pulled the "I refuse to use election signs for the environment!" card. That is okay, I guess, but election signs are one (unfair) signal that candidates are serious about campaigning, and either rich enough to pay for their signs or organized enough to fundraise for them. If you forgo signs then how are you signaling to others that you are a serious candidate? Yes, you can canvass and shake hands (as if election literature is good for the environment) but this is only feasible for the ward level. Mike Morrice organized kitchen table talks to meet with small groups of people. Some people hold meet-and-greets, but nothing says anybody will turn up to them. I suppose that purchasing advertisements online is a strategy, but those of us who selfishly use ad-blockers won't see them. So how will you convince voters (in particular voters who have never heard of you) to take notice?

My house got a few literature drops, but not many. (I live in a neighbourhood the algorithms have decided is not worth canvassing, though.) There are a few signs in the neighbourhood, but not many. It would be pretty easy to ignore this election entirely, and that is a problem.

Having watched a bunch of elections, I feel that an online presence can be helpful (it sways my feelings towards Dorothy McCabe, for instance) but it is not sufficient to win a seat. It is sad to say, but handshaking works and lawn signs probably help.

I have walked and cycled through a bunch of residential neighbourhoods, and outside of Wilmot lawn signs are scarce. Maybe there is some other way people campaign these days, but I am not seeing it, and it worries me.

Giving Back

In the debates I listened to, a common refrain was "I'm running because I felt it was time to give back". Okay, but is running for a high-profile, high-stress position such as a Ward Councillor the way for you to do this?

There are lots of ways for people to give back to their communities. There are standard volunteering tasks, of course. But people can also organize neighbourhood associations, or coordinate helpers to make sure everybody's sidewalk is shoveled in the winter, or join steering committees at their municipality, or organize a community event, or submit well-researched feedback on EngageWR, or manage the local outdoor skating rink, or help make sure that vulnerable neighbours get the support they need. There are lots and lots of ways to give back, so why do so many people decide their contribution will be to run for City or Regional council with no previous experience? It is moderately irritating.

This doesn't mean people shouldn't run for office. But I wish people had a better sense of what the job entailed and the sacrifices it demanded before spontaneously throwing their hats into the ring.