Kitchener-Waterloo·Waterloo Region Votes

Waterloo candidates state top 3 reasons they want to be on council

Change is coming to Waterloo in this municipal election as the mayor and three current councillors did not seek re-election. CBC K-W asked candidates to list the top three reasons they're running in this municipal election.

Mayor, 3 current councillors not seeking re-election in Monday's election

Waterloo's council will see change in this municipal election as the mayor and three councillors are not seeking re-election. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Waterloo's council will see change after Monday's election as the mayor and three councillors are not seeking re-election.

Those not seeking re-election are:

  • Mayor Dave Jaworsky.
  • Ward 3 Coun. Angela Vieth.
  • Ward 6 Coun. Jeff Henry.
  • Ward 7 Coun. Tenille Bonoguore.

The municipal election will be held on Monday, Oct. 24. CBC Kitchener-Waterloo asked all candidates to answer a survey that listed their top three reasons for running. The responses are in alphabetical order by last name.


Four portraits (woman, man, woman, man) side-by-side.
There are four people running for mayor in Waterloo, Ont. They are (from left) Shannon Weber, Rob Evans, Dorothy McCabe and Kypp Saunders. (Submitted by Shannon Weber, Rob Evans, Dorothy McCabe, Kypp Saunders)

There will be a new face in the mayor's seat after this election. The current mayor, Dave Jaworsky, is not seeking re-election.

There are four candidates running for mayor:

  • Rob Evans.
  • Dorothy McCabe.
  • Kypp Saunders.
  • Shannon Weber.

Rob Evans said the top three reasons he's running for mayor are:

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  • "I care."
  • "I'm qualified."
  • Housing.

"Things are good for many folks in Waterloo, yet there are crises in housing affecting the historically marginalized and students and folks with low income, and it's time we address these and systemic and affordability issues in a different way," Evans said, pointing to his equitable housing plan.

"I will be smart [about] how we move quickly in taking good care of our community."

Evans says he was born in the city, educated in the city and decided to remain in the city with his family because he loves Waterloo.

"Our smart balance in Waterloo of livability and economic opportunity can improve even more," he said.

Dorothy McCabe says her top three reasons for running for mayor are:

  • Lead Waterloo towards the future.
  • Creating a greener, more sustainable city.
  • Hear and understand diverse perspectives to work toward collective action.

McCabe says the city's next mayor must have "the knowledge and ability to start on Day 1" and she has "the necessary experience."

"Housing affordability, overall livability, inclusion and the environment. Simply put, we need a city that works better for more people and the planet," McCabe said.

McCabe says she deliberately chose a career in public service and she has " years of experience working in the municipal sector and in the provincial government."

She says she'd commit to creating a mayor's advisory table to "facilitate discussions and uncover Waterloo's next big ideas."

Kypp Saunders said his top three reasons for running are:

  • To bring a fresh perspective to city council.
  • Work to address the need for affordable housing.
  • Make public transportation more accessible.

Saunders, a business owner, says he loves the city "but I feel we can do better."

He says he's seen and experienced the housing crisis and he wants to see transit expand its hours of operation and be free on weekends.

"I am not a politician. I am local small business owner who knows how to balance a budget. I love the city and I want to get involved at the highest level to help create a more vibrant, safe, affordable and inclusive city," he said.

Shannon Weber said her top three reasons for running for mayor are:

  • Affordability.
  • Economic and social recovery.
  • A connected community.

Weber says "affordability" includes affordable housing while also having the city encourage more sustainable infrastructure.

"We could start by modernizing zoning by-laws to speed up home building while protecting green space, as well as including purpose-built rentals in our mix of housing," she said.

Weber says the city needs to deliver high-quality service for people, especially vulnerable residents.

"This also means actively listening, being responsive and approaching issues with innovative ideas and with a mindset of how can we get to 'yes,'" she said.

Weber says she'd start with issues she's heard at the doors: Backyard fire pits, trail and road maintenance and traffic calming. 

"I would work to enhance neighbourhood community development by creating programs focused on relationship building and better connecting youth, seniors and newcomers to city services. Our parks and public spaces will better support informal gatherings of neighbours by ensuring they are properly maintained, accessible and updated to meet today's and future needs."

The CBC K-W panel with Waterloo mayoral candidates can be found here.

Ward 1

Two portraits side-by-side.
There are two people running in Waterloo's Ward 1. They are Sandra Hanmer (left) and Robert Parent. (Hanmer photo by Julie Maier, Robert Parent website)

There are two candidates in Ward 1:

  • Sandra Hanmer (incumbent).
  • Robert Parent.

Sandra Hanmer says her top three reasons for seeking re-election are:

  • Build on the work during her first term of council.
  • Affordable housing and safety.
  • Financial challenges.

Hanmer said during her first term on council, she could see where her contributions made a difference and it has been a "fulfilling experience."

"Together we established a team dedicated to Indigenous initiatives, anti-racism, and equity; declared a climate emergency; created safer streets and focused on economic growth," she said. "I want to be part of the important work advancing these initiatives."

Affordable housing and safety have been council's highest priorities, Hanmer said. That includes:

  • Traffic safety measures supporting the needs of walkers, cyclists, and drivers.
  • Planning measures that provide homes for and keep safe our increasing population.
  • Safety of the environment.
  • Being aware of the financial challenges the current economy presents and budgeting responsibly.

Robert Parent says his top three reasons for running in this election are:

  • Apply his experience in community volunteerism on a larger, more inclusive scale.
  • He's learned from his experience of running in 2018 and wants to apply that knowledge.
  • Wants city hall to be more attentive to local issues.

Parent, a retired teacher, says it's important to be an active member of the community beyond his own neighbourhood and he'd like to address some of the issues the city is facing.

"Understanding of course that one's preferred  issue is another person's indifference. However, let us try and concentrate on those issues like speed limits, bike lanes, snow clearing, leaf collection, property taxes just to name a few that perhaps don't get their due in the media," he said.

"Let us continue to collaborate and negotiate with the region and province on larger scale issues: climate, shelters, infrastructure, Wilmot line, developer's variances and smart growth."

Ward 2

Two portraits side-by-side, both men.
There are three candidate names that will appear on the ballot in Waterloo's Ward 2. Pictured are Khaled Berbash (left) and Royce Bodaly. Shaheen Mujahid says she's ended her campaign due to health reasons. (Khaled Berbash campaign website, submitted by Royce Bodaly)

There are three candidates in Ward 2:

  • Khaled Berbash.
  • Royce Bodaly (incumbent).
  • Shaheen Mujahid.

Khaled Berbash says his top three reasons for running in this election are:

  • Practicing the democratic process.
  • Bring professional experience in city planning and design to council.
  • Use experience to guide city.

Berbash, an architect, says his experience would be "an added value to the council in making, analyze and developing policies and decisions."

"My unique professional and academic qualifications, areas of my 32 years of different experiences, skills and capacities [can] be an added value to the council to run our city more cost-effectively, as well as lead the staff more efficiently, and serve our people better," he said.

Royce Bodaly says his top three reasons for seeking re-election are:

  • Safe streets.
  • Affordable housing crisis.
  • Climate Action.

"I want to take bold action on making our communities safer for pedestrians, cyclists, children and seniors," he said.

He says it's "imperative" to implement the city's first ever affordable housing strategy to increase the supply of housing.

He said there are only only two council terms between now and 2030, which is when the city has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by half. "The city needs to take a leadership approach both internally with corporate emissions and externally with community emissions," he said.

"Transitioning to a low-carbon future and building a resilient city is imperative to the long-term vibrancy of our community."

Shaheen Mujahid's name will be on the ballot but Majahid told CBC the campaign is not active at this time due to health reasons.

Ward 3

Two portraits side-by-side, man on left, woman on right.
There are two people running in Waterloo's Ward 3: Hans Roach (left) and Madelyn Steiss. (Hans Roach campaign, submitted by Madelyn Steiss)

There will be a new face representing Ward 3 after this election as the current councillor, Angela Vieth, did not seek re-election.

There are two candidates in Ward 3:

  • Hans Roach.
  • Madelyn Steiss.

Hans Roach says his top three reasons for running in this election are:

  • To advocate for residents.
  • Address issues of housing affordability, food insecurity, equality and climate change.
  • Personal and professional experiences "can help take Waterloo from good to great."

Roach says he's worked for 30 years in the medical technology industry. He's also currently a trustee with the Waterloo Catholic District School Board and serves on the budget committee.

He's involved in the community through minor hockey, fundraising for Easter Seals and has helped Supportive Housing of Waterloo raise money through Coldest Night of the Year.

His vision is to "grow our vibrant economy, increase our quality of life and to uphold our community pride."

"My mission is to help ensure that Waterloo provides quality public services in a competent, respectful and timely manner," he said. "If we have learned anything from the social isolation that this pandemic has caused, it is that we need to gather."

Madelyn Steiss said her top three reasons for running in this election are:

  • To better connect people to city hall.
  • Offer a perspective from a younger community member.
  • Advocate for people.

Steiss said she has felt like there's been a lack of communication in the community.

"I am a lifelong resident of Ward 3 and I care very deeply about the future. I plan to increase communication channels between voters and council if I am elected, and ensure that everyone feels heard," she said.

Steiss says she can offer a different perspective on city issues.

"I hope to be a positive example and to increase enthusiasm for young peoples' engagement in politics. I am enthused at the opportunity to be a representative for my community," she said.

She says school, work and community involvement have given her the skills needed to be a councillor.

"I advocate for people across different abilities, ages, and demographics to receive the services they need and to increase their community involvement," she said.

Ward 4

Three portraits side-by-side, man, woman, woman.
There are three people running in Waterloo's Ward 4. They are (from left): Obinna Obi, Diane Freeman and Maryssa Barras. (Submitted by Obinna Obi, Freeman photo by Kim Coffin Photography, Maryssa Barras/Twitter)

There are three candidates in Ward 4:

  • Maryssa Barras.
  • Diane Freeman (incumbent).
  • Obinna Obi.

Maryssa Barras did not respond to CBC K-W's survey.

Diane Freeman says her three reasons for seeking re-election are:

  • She enjoys the work.
  • To bring experience to council.
  • Push innovation and grow business.

Freeman said she's loved serving as councillor for this area of the city. She knows council will see a lot of change after this election, with four members of council not seeking re-election and three councillors who are have served for one term.

"I believe I am the right person to provide some continuity and institutional memory to the new mayor and council," Freeman said.

Freeman was first elected to council in 2006. She also works as a civil and environmental engineer and has served as president of the Professional Engineers of Ontario.

"I am seeking to work with other like-minded members of council to grow and strengthen the City of Waterloo so it remains the location of choice for innovative and growing businesses," she said.

"As an engineer, I have sought ways to foster sustainable development in the city. The goals of well-designed/planned development have been stated clearly in the official plan for the city which help to protect/manage and nurture the environment (water, air, land)."

Obinna Obi listed his top three reasons for running in this election as:

  • Affordable housing and shelter.
  • Availability of child care facilities.
  • Transportation and roads.

"I arrived in Canada as a student in 2014. I loved the country and its community and decided to call Canada home," Obi said.

"I want to serve the people in the grassroot as their councillor because I know what the average individual in the community wants."


Ward 5

Four portraits side-by-side: Man, woman, woman, man.
There are four people running in Waterloo's Ward 5. They are (from left): Joe Brenner, Jen Vasic, Blayr Hogg and Bob Oberholtzer. (Submitted by Joe Brenner, Vasic photo by Bangishimo, submitted by Blayr Hogg, Bob Oberholtzer)

There are four candidates in Ward 5:

  • Joe Brenner.
  • Blayr Hogg.
  • Bob (Obie) Oberholtzer.
  • Jen Vasic (incumbent).

Joe Brenner listed his three top reasons for running in this election as:

  • City council needs to listen to residents.
  • Make the city "even better."
  • Allow backyard fires in Waterloo.

Brenner says he would connect with people through town hall meetings in the ward every two months and statements on his website after every council meeting. 

"I support affordable housing and would like to see the municipality have developers set a percentage of new projects for affordable housing and greenspace," he said.

"I would re-open the discussion on backyard fires [and] revisit speed limits and bicycle lane development that impacts vehicular traffic." 

Blayr Hogg says her top three reasons for running in this election are:

  • Improve lives of friends and neighbours.
  • Review and reallocate the police budget.
  • Addressing homelessness and affordable housing crisis.

Hogg says she wants Waterloo to be a "safe and inclusive place" for everyone.

"I want to see a return to common sense governing with special attention paid to where and how taxpayer funds are spent," Hogg said.

"I am a passionate supporter of reviewing and reallocating the police budget to support local non-profits already undertaking critical work at a grassroots level," Hogg added. 

"Part of eliminating single family zoning is to also allow for up to three dwellings on a property ... like a carriage house, granny flat, or even a tiny home. Certainly there are those within our community who would embrace the opportunity to have an extra income while providing safe and stable housing," Hogg said.

That would also see the city invest in transitional housing, co-operative housing associations and other affordable options like a tiny home community.

"Housing is a human right and should be treated as such," Hogg said. "I am keen to serve with integrity, transparency, and deep empathy."

Bob (Obie) Oberholtzer said his top three reasons for running in this election are:

  • It's "something worthwhile to do to help others."
  • At age 87, "I have a lot of personal experience and 40-plus years of business."
  • Housing and the opioid crisis.

"Where there is a will, there is a way to secure permanent housing for those without homes (a combination of city owned, privately owned, faith/church owned) and to reduce deaths due to drug overdose," Oberholtzer said.

"I would like to consider options of smaller dwellings of five to 20 beds per house/building where it is more conducive to participate in the chores and to cook and eat together on a regular basis."

He said people are the city's "number one asset" and the city needs to take care of them.

"We need to promote multigenerational living as being cool/socially acceptable instead of segregating by age," he said. "Education needs to be taken seriously including students turning their cell phones off during class time."

Jen Vasic says her top three reasons seeking re-election are:

  • Love of helping people navigate complex systems.
  • Be part of addressing the big, urgent, and connected goals the city faces.
  • Improve community culture.

Vasic says over the past four years, she's helped residents and city staff come up with solutions to everyday problems.

"From quickly filling potholes and tending to trees requiring a trim, to improving leaf collection processes and reconstructing old roads, we've pushed for improvements in service delivery," she said.

"Prioritizing a city that is doing everything it can to shift the course of the climate emergency, as well as be a place that is fair and safe for everyone has been and will continue to be a focus for me," she said.

She said she supported freezing municipal service rates to help people through the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to make it "safer and easier" to get around the city "on any mode of transportation."

"The pandemic has shown us how important it is to get outside, the value of arts and culture to our well-being and economy, and how good it feels to connect with friends, family, and neighbours in-person," she said.

Ward 6

Four portraits of people side-by-side: Woman, man, woman, man
There are four candidates in Waterloo's Ward 6. They are (from left): Karen Fischer, Jonathan Cassels, Mary Lou Roe and Matthew Schwarze. (Fischer photo by Hilary Gauld, Cassels photo by David Cassels, Roe photo by Will Knapp, Matthew Schwarze website)

There will be a new representative in Ward 6 as the current councillor, Jeff Henry, is not seeking re-election.

There are four candidates in Ward 6:

  • Jonathan Cassels.
  • Karen Fischer.
  • Mary Lou Roe.
  • Matthew Nicholas Schwarze.

Jonathan Cassels says the top three reasons he's running are:

  • To work collaboratively.
  • Experience.
  • Continue progress on important issues, like affordable housing.

Cassels currently works as a political staff member in the office of Ontario's shadow minister for finance and has volunteered locally. He follows local politics and reads city agendas and materials regularly as he deals with similar issues on a provincial level.

"It's an unfortunate fact that, often, when new councils are elected we end up losing momentum because it takes time for new councillors to catch up with processes already in progress," he said.

"Whether we're addressing our housing affordability crisis, mitigating the threats global climate change poses to us locally, or improving our transportation infrastructure -- city council plays an important role, but can only achieve the results Waterloo deserves through collaboration."

Karen Fischer says her top three reasons for running are: 

  • Affordable housing.
  • Fiscal responsibility.
  • Listening and asking questions.

Fischer said she would want to open conversations about affordable housing and seek solutions.

"I will uphold the enforcement of the property standards bylaw as I believe it will contribute to a sense of safety and security in our neighbourhoods," she said.

She would also work to see housing "evolve in a way that best serves the people in this community, supporting the development of green space, more inclusivity and more accessibility for all members of this community."

Fischer says she's concerned about the infrastructure deficit. She wants "to be sure that money is available for future essential maintenance."

"I believe we need to work for understanding," she added.

"Listening to residents' concerns, asking good questions and gathering important data is essential to finding the best solutions to the problems we are facing in the city."

Mary Lou Roe says her top three reasons for running are:

  • Community building.
  • Affordable housing.
  • Climate action.

"I'm committed to building a safe, welcoming, inclusive community for all. Residents of Waterloo need to feel accepted and included and belong in the community. That they are visible and have equal access to work, services, green spaces, and opportunities," Roe said, noting she has worked in the community to help newcomers get settled.

She says she's supportive of affordable housing initiatives and strategies "that help make housing attainable for all city residents along the housing spectrum."

The city also needs to continue its work on climate change, she said.

"I'm committed to supporting city initiatives and climate strategies that incorporate green building practices, are environmentally friendly, and ensure a healthy, sustainable city for the long term," she said.

Matthew Nicholas Schwarze says his top three reasons for running in this election are:

  • Housing affordability, availability and quality.
  • Active transit infrastructure.
  • Sustainability and climate action.

Schwarze says it's important the next councillor for Ward 6 "knows how to ask the right questions, listen closely, and carefully consider residents' views, as well as knows how to balance resident experiences, data, and expert advice to ensure that council is making the best decisions possible for our community."

He says affordable housing is needed in the city and there needs to be zoning reform to help build more "missing middle" housing like townhomes, low and mid-rise units with multiple bedrooms and more diverse housing stock.

He said Waterloo has made good progress in active transit infrastructure and the next council "needs to keep up the momentum."

"We also need to ensure that the infrastructure that we already have is accessible to those that need it — we should experiment with strategies to achieve this, such as timely sidewalk snow clearing to ensure those with disabilities are able to get around safely," he said.

Climate action is a pressing issue, he said. As the city explores different environmental and sustainability options, it's "important for our policies to keep equity and compassion in mind."

Ward 7

Two portraits side-by-side, man and woman.
There are two people running in Waterloo's Ward 7. They are Bruce Polan (left) and Julie Wright. (Submitted by Bruce Polan, Wright photo by Ella Secara)

There will be a new representative in Ward 7 as the current councillor, Tenille Bonoguore, did not seek re-election.

There are two candidates in Ward 7:

  • Bruce Polan.
  • Julie Wright.

Bruce Polan says his top three reasons for running in this election are:

  • Help continue the improvements in uptown.
  • Represent voices of people in the ward.
  • Would like to see more active transportation on city streets.

Polan says as a long-time resident of the city, he wants to help continue with the improvements he's seen in the uptown core over the last 10 years.

"I support the improvements such as the recent reconstruction of King Street and would like to see more pedestrian and cycle-friendly use of our streets," Polan said.

Polan is a professional engineer and has done consulting work with the city and region, including during construction of the LRT.

"I would like to represent the concerned voters in our Ward 7.  I am open minded to all ideas, and feel that I can help Council make good decisions for our City," he said.

Julie Wright says her top three reasons for running in this election are:

  • Climate change.
  • Affordable housing.
  • Support for uptown.

Wright said her top issue in this election is climate change because it "is by far the biggest threat to our quality of life."

"Cities can fight climate change. Our actions can make a visible difference in our own neighbourhoods," Wright said, calling on the city to build on its climate action strategy.

She says she'll push for infrastructure that promotes active and public transportation, work to improve zoning and bylaws that don't meet the climate action strategy's goals, advocate for a tree bylaw to protect urban green space including planting more trees and food forests, and work with local university and organizations to identify the areas where work can be done.

Affordable housing is also among her top priorities. Inflation, the cost of building housing on the rise and increased pressure from people moving from Toronto to Waterloo are factors in people not being able to find affordable housing in the city, she said.

She'd like to see "nimble approaches to zoning" to create more density along transportation corridors, offer incentives for developers to create sustainable and affordable housing and make sure there's diversity in the types of buildings.

Wright also wants to focus on the uptown core, which "has experienced hardship with years of mainstreet construction followed by pandemic closures."

She said it's important people are drawn to uptown to live, work and play.

How to vote in Waterloo

People can vote in-person on election day in Waterloo.

People will receive a voter information card with ward specific information on where they should go to vote. The city also has six locations where anyone in Waterloo can go to vote:

  • Waterloo City Centre.
  • Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex.
  • John M. Harper Library.
  • RIM Park.
  • University of Waterloo — Student Life Centre.
  • Wilfrid Laurier University — Concourse.

The city also offers specific tips to students about voting and notes anyone who is a Canadian citizen, 18 years of age and older as well as a resident, land owner or tenant in the city can vote in the election.

"Students are allowed to vote in two municipalities if you live in Waterloo for educational purposes and your home is in another Ontario municipality," the city's website says.

"Your home is the residence you regularly return to when not attending school. This could be a place you live independently or your family home. If you do not plan to return to the municipality where your home is when you finish your education, you can only vote in Waterloo."

Read more of CBC K-W's municipal election coverage:


Kate Bueckert


Kate has been covering issues in southern Ontario for more than 15 years. She is currently a CBC News reporter/editor working for CBC Kitchener-Waterloo. Email: