Acclaimed municipal candidates say they're plenty busy over the next 2 months
North Dumfries mayor says now is a 'prime opportunity' to talk to federal, provincial ministers
North Dumfries Mayor Sue Foxton may have been acclaimed to her position in this fall's municipal election — meaning she doesn't have to campaign — but that doens't mean she's going to sit back and relax.
Instead, Foxton says she's been given the gift of time to get other work done. Earlier this month, she attended the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in Ottawa where she said she had productive meetings discussing local issues with 15 different federal and provincial ministers.
"They all wanted more information," she said. "I wouldn't have the time before — I would have been campaigning — and this is a prime opportunity to get to those ministers again and follow up because each of them wanted follow up from me."
The municipal election is Oct. 24, but seven people in Waterloo region won't need to hit the campaign trail over the next two months. The candidates that have been acclaimed are:
- North Dumfries Mayor Sue Foxton.
- North Dumfries Coun. Derrick Ostner.
- Alida Wilms and Scott Tilley for councillor in North Dumfries.
- Wellesley Mayor Joe Nowak.
- Wellesley Coun. Shelley Wagner.
- Lori Sebben for councillor in Wellesley.
Nowak won a tight race for mayor in 2018, when he won by just 23 votes. He said he's not sure why he's been acclaimed this time, be he hopes it's because people are happy with the job he's doing.
"There just seems to be a sense of contentment in the community and I hope I'm not reading that wrong," he said.
Like Foxton, Nowak says he won't sit back and relax during the campaign period. He's looking forward to focusing on local events, including the fall fair and the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival.
He says rather than knocking on doors, he wants to host roundtable discussions in the communities. He'll also meet with staff to ensure when the new council is sworn in after the Oct. 24 election, they can hit the ground running on a list of projects.
"First of all is the completion of the recreation centre," he said. "We're hoping to have that up and running for the ice hockey season 2023-2024."
Then, council has to decide what to do with the land from the current recreation centre and it needs to update the township's official plan so it's in line with the recently updated regional official plan.
Some new faces on councils
Wilms, who will be a first-time councillor, says she was "excited and also slightly terrified" to learn she had been acclaimed. She has lived in North Dumfries for seven years and said for the first few years, she and her family would go to Cambridge for kids' activities, sports, church and the library.
"Everything seems more focused toward Cambridge and the last little while I was thinking, you know what? That doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Since I live in North Dumfries, I need to figure out a lot more about my own community and how I could participate in my own community," Wilms said.
She mulled over the idea of running for council for a few months before she filed the paperwork on July 12. She says there's no specific issues she wants to address but wants to hold an open house for people in Ward 3 so they can meet her and tell her their concerns.
"I also really want to start just studying what's going on with current council and what the issues are before them right now so that I can have a better understanding of what to expect when," WIlms said.
Scott Tilley's story is similar to Wilms. He's been acclaimed in Ward 4 in North Dumfries and says he decided to run when it became clear no one else seemed to want to be the councillor.
"I need to make sure that our ward has some representation," Tilley said. "I'm still digesting and processing what the next steps are going to be."
Tilley was born and raised in Branchton, in the township's southeast corner. He moved away for a few years and returned to the area with his family about 10 years ago. He says that experience of being in the area will help him represent his neighbours.
He plans to hold some events so he can get to know residents and they can know he'll be their councillor for the next four years.
"Definitely for the first part of my term is to make sure that I do get my finger on the pulse and find out what is going on and what are things that you aren't privy to until you actually start in a role like this and then my hope is to to help work with everybody and try to make it as good as we can make it and and continue to take the time to ... actually be part of improvements," he said.
'It's a very strange feeling'
Foxton has been in politics since 1997 and has never been acclaimed before. It's a feeling she's still getting used to, she says.
"You're feeling like, I didn't deserve this or I should be out there talking to people and campaigning and it's a very strange feeling," she said.
Foxton said she still plans to get out in the community over the next two months, but she also plans to use the time to look at how the township can be more energy efficient and use green energy and provide better public transportation options to residents.