Kitchener-Waterloo·Waterloo Region Votes

These 3 councillors in Waterloo region share why they opted not to seek re-election this fall

Regional Coun. Sean Strickland, Waterloo Coun. Tenille Bonoguore and Woolwich Township Coun. Larry Shantz joined CBC K-W's The Morning Edition to talk about why they're not running for re-election.

Waterloo Coun. Tenille Bonoguore says she's enjoyed the work 'but it's a pretty heavy load'

Three portraits side by side - man-woman-man.
Regional Coun. Sean Strickland, Waterloo Coun. Tenille Bonoguore and Woolwich Township Coun. Larry Shantz, left to right, spoke to CBC K-W's The Morning Edition about their decisions not to run for re-election. (Region of Waterloo/City of Waterloo/Township of Woolwich)

There will be new faces sitting around council horseshoes later this fall after several current councillors in Waterloo region opted not to seek re-election.

On regional council, there are eight elected councillors. Six of them aren't running in the Oct. 24 municipal election. Sean Strickland is one of those not seeking re-election, despite being in local politics since 1994.

Strickland joined Waterloo Coun. Tenille Bonoguore and Woolwich Township Coun. Larry Shantz on CBC Kitchener-Waterloo's The Morning Edition to talk about their decisions not to run again.

Strickland said the work has changed over the years and what started out as a part-time job became a second full-time job.

"When I started to add it up in terms of 20 hours a week could spend at events and committee and council meetings, answering emails and phone calls and all the other duties related to being an elected official, including reading and staying on top of things, I realized I just couldn't adequately serve the good citizens of Waterloo and the Region of Waterloo in a part-time capacity," Strickland said.

Bonoguore, who is leaving her seat representing the uptown ward in Waterloo after one term, says she never planned on the role being long term. 

"I went in with a couple of direct goals in mind. I really wanted to centre climate change and equity work within city discussions and on this council, I think we all went in with that kind of vision so we were able to really move the needle for the city on those two essential things."

'It's a pretty heavy load'

Bonoguore agreed with Strickland that the part-time job requires a lot more work than other part-time work. She said that during the COVID-19 pandemic and school closures, she had to leave her other part-time job to be able to focus on her children's remote learning and her role as a councillor.

"I've loved being on council. Don't get me wrong, it's fantastic, but it's a pretty heavy load," she said.

Shantz said he made a list of pros and cons for seeking re-election and talked to family and friends before making up his mind.

"I figured I was looking in the rearview mirror and I had to concentrate on the road ahead, and the real question I needed to ask myself was: Are you capable of offering the same commitment, dedication and time to your constituents for another four years?" he said.

"When I was not able to answer that question with a resounding yes, I felt that I wasn't being fair to the position or to the people I was representing."

  • LISTEN | Why these councillors in Waterloo region have opted not to seek re-election:
Regional Coun. Sean Strickland, Waterloo Coun.Tenille Bonoguore and Woolwich Township Coun. Larry Shantz discuss why they've decided not to see re-election in this month's municipal election.

Instant replies expected

All three councillors say politics has changed during their time, whether it's been four years or more than 25 years.

Strickland joked they didn't have email in 1994. Now, he says there's an "expectation for instantaneous communication" from constituents through email and social media.

"I actually went off Twitter probably about three years ago and I sleep more soundly for it."

Shantz said he has found online meetings can create a disconnect with people speaking to councillors.

"You can't see the expression on people's faces when you're on Zoom as much and you can't feel your part of it and really hearing what people are saying," he said.

"You really have to watch what you say because everything is being recorded. It definitely has changed and social media … everything can get blown out of proportion in a hurry."

Bonoguore says social media in particular means people often are in their own bubbles and can find it hard to break out of them. 

"Some residents are ending up in this trap where their social media is only showing them like-minded perspectives so they don't actually believe me when I tell them I'm hearing an opposing position quite loudly within the community," she said.

"Within their view of the community, that opposing position doesn't exist. So they don't really believe that there is another side of the debate."

'Residents aren't seeing each other'

Bonoguore says that will be a challenge for future councillors as they talk to residents about important issues.

"Residents aren't seeing each other, they're not getting to know each other and that's one of the really important goals and roles of a councillor is to try and build those bridges and explain 'No, no, there is all these other people who have these competing needs' and now it's our role on council to try and reach the best end result with all of these competing needs in mind."

Strickland says he found it's much harder to find a consensus among his constituents now compared to when he first started in politics.

"I always used to say that in municipal politics, it was always a challenge to get the right answer because someone's always going to be annoyed with whatever decision you make, but I think that divide is increased in politics," he said.

"I think there's much more of an antagonistic relationship, regardless of the elected officials ability to try to find the middle ground and make the right decision in the best interest of the public," he added.

"I think it's a much more lively and I think somewhat disconcerting discourse now because it's more about us versus them — you're not with me, you're against me — rather than much more of a consensus building approach."


Kate Bueckert


Kate has been covering issues in southern Ontario for more than 15 years. She currently works for CBC Kitchener-Waterloo. Email: