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2022 Ontario municipal election: Meet the Cambridge Ward 1 council candidates

File photo of Cambridge City Hall. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

On Oct. 24, voters across Waterloo Region in Ontario will head to the polls to elect city and regional councillors, mayors and a regional chair.

Residents of Cambridge, the region’s second-largest city, will elect councillors in eight wards as well as a mayor to form city council.

There will be at least three new faces in place, as Ward 4 Coun. Jan Liggett is running for mayor and Ward 5 Coun. Pam Wolf is seeking one of two seats on regional council. Ward 3 Coun. Mike Mann has chosen not to seek re-election.

Ward 1 Coun. Donna Brown is seeking a fourth term in office but she will have to get past Paul Brown, Helen Shwery and Eric Takor on election night to do so.

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To help voters ahead of this election, Global News has reached out to all of those running for regional or city council, mayor or regional chair in Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo with available online contact info. Those running for office were emailed a list of seven questions and in the coming days, the responses for every candidate who replies will be shared.

What follows are the responses received from those running for councillor in Cambridge, with the candidates being listed in alphabetical order:

Paul Brown

Q.1 Please give a brief background of yourself including what you do for a living and how long you have lived in the area? (If you are an incumbent, please state how long you have held the position.)

I am 57 years old and recently retired. I moved to Cambridge with my parents in 1978 and have lived here ever since. I have lived in Ward 1 for the past eight years. I started my career off as a correctional officer, a job I held for years. Then I got into the skilled trades, first as a millwright, then as a custom steel fabricator. I worked my way up the ladder until my retirement from construction management in 2019.

Q.2 Why do you believe you are the right person for the job?

I know my way around city hall, having sat on different committees over the last eight years. I am actively engaged in politics at all levels, so I understand the division of powers and having to cooperate in order to get things done. Being retired, I have the time to dedicate to council full time. I want to enhance the transparency of city hall and make council more accountable when they make decisions that go against the proper process. I simply won’t stand for it.

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Q.3 What do you think is the most important issue facing your ward and the city as a whole?

Homelessness and public safety is the top priority for me.

Q.4 Looking down the road, what are your long-term goals for the city?

I want a city where people are not afraid to walk down the street. I want to see economic development flourish while at the same time paying respect to our heritage. Some people believe we have to give up one to have the other, I disagree, I think we are better off when we remember our past and commit to its preservation while thinking about future developments. I want to see a city that filled with family events and all three cores developed properly so we can enjoy our downtowns again.

Q.5 What is your platform?

The biggest part of my platform is about transparency and accountability. Let’s face it, nothing else can be guaranteed by one councillor. I only will promise what is within my control and that is transparency and accountability… I will pull the curtains back on city council.

Q.6 What do you like to do in your spare time?

Friends and family are important to me, they are number one. Beyond that, I love music festivals, golfing, drag racing and anything else that allows me to spend time with the people I love.

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Q.7 What is your favourite thing about living in your city/ward?

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I have been in Preston for eight years now, I grew up in Hespeler. I’m astonished by the sense of community here. People are so quick to help others, it’s heartwarming. I am so close to downtown Preston that I can walk most places that I need to go. Our parks are so beautiful and so well enjoyed by everyone.

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Donna Reid

Q.1 Please give a brief background of yourself including what you do for a living and how long you have lived in the area? (If you are an incumbent, please state how long you have held the position.)

I was first elected to council in 2010. I have lived in Ward 1 for 22 years and much longer in the city. Incidentally I have lived in the Lang’s area and the Preston Heights area and now live in Hespeler. The only area in my Ward I haven’t lived in is Blair.

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I am a retired teacher who spent her last 12 years on leave to serve as the Executive Director of the local teachers’ federation.

Q.2 Why do you believe you are the right person for the job?

There are many challenges facing cities today. Homelessness, addiction, economic recovery, mental  health issues and a pandemic that still plagues us. As well, this Region and our city are among the fastest growing in Ontario and Canada. This means we need supportive housing, affordable housing and housing for the missing middle. We can’t build housing fast enough to meet our needs.

These challenges require councillors with experience. I bring the experience, knowledge and skills to this role.

Q.3 What do you think is the most important issue facing your ward and the city as a whole?

My ward has a lot of potential development over the next number of years. We are building residential 15-minute communities as well as opening up the East side lands for employment and industry. Growing as quickly as we are brings changes and adjustments to our residents sooner than anticipated. Some residents are not ready for these changes.

The city as a whole is undergoing crisis of homelessness, drug addiction and mental health issues. We cannot solve these issues alone. We are working collaboratively with all levels of governments to provide the needed services.

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Q.4 Looking down the road, what are your long-term goals for the city?

As we grow, careful planning is required. We want to preserve our heritage buildings, our environment and find ways to reduce climate change. Our rivers must remain central and provide sports and peaceful enjoyment for all residents.

My long-term goal envisions a vibrant, active and beautiful city that is age friendly and supports and respects all citizens.

Q.5 What is your platform?

In my ward, I will collaborate with the Region on the development along Maple Grove Road and the roundabout at Hespeler/Maple Grove/Fisher Mills roads. I look forward to other developments in the ward that will add to our economic recovery.

More development will take place as the East Side lands open up. I hope to collaborate with the Region on these developments. It is important to note that public engagement is vital as we progress forward.

The corner of Fountain Street and King Street in Preston is an entry to the Preston Town Centre. It needs a development that inspires and honours the history of the hotels that graced that corner. I hope to soon support such planning applications.

As a councillor, I am your representative. So when I make decisions I look to the residents, our city staff, my colleagues and any helpful research to assist my decision making. Strong results come when all are involved.

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Q.6 What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to read, spend time with family and friends and eating out in fine restaurants.

I’m a huge figure fan and travel to events across Canada and the U.S.

Q.7 What is your favourite thing about living in your city/ward?

I am very proud of my city. I love our unique heritage, our rivers and our three cores. Riverside Park is my favourite spot.

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Helen Shwery

Q.1 Please give a brief background of yourself including what you do for a living and how long you have lived in the area? (If you are an incumbent, please state how long you have held the position.)

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I am a daughter of immigrant parents, a mother, grandmother, business owner, former audit and fraud specialist and fed-up taxpayer. I believe talk is cheap and we have had enough of do-nothing politicians.

During my teenage years I grew up on a farm in Cambridge and have been back for four years and currently live in Ward 1. I have volunteered for various groups and continue to do so. Throughout my life I have had to overcome many challenges and obstacles which today I am grateful for. I love empowering people because I truly believe everyone can succeed if they want to.

Q.2 Why do you believe you are the right person for the job?

The current mayor and many of the councilors are out of touch with the residents they are supposed to be representing. Taxes, homelessness and crime keep increasing, yet our services are decreasing. I will find efficiencies to reduce unnecessary spending, while maintaining funds allocated to essential services.

The taxpayers in Cambridge must be guiding the mayor and council. I will listen to the residents and encourage town-hall type meetings where the people of Cambridge could attend. Decisions should not be political but based on what the people of Cambridge want.

I am dedicating my campaign to restoring the voice of the people of Cambridge.

Q.3 What do you think is the most important issue facing your ward and the city as a whole?

The main issue facing my ward and the people of Cambridge is money and frustration with the current mayor and council. Interest rates are increasing, yet the mayor and council voted to increase the people of Cambridge’s property taxes by 4.5 per cent. Our property taxes and water rates are one of the highest in Ontario. I will go through the budget to find efficiencies and savings. We need to make Cambridge affordable again.

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Q.4 Looking down the road, what are your long-term goals for the city?

Cambridge needs to become affordable and safe again. Engagement with the people of Cambridge must be part of every major decision made. This will give them pride and ownership of the city they live in. I will listen to and respect the concerns and expectations of Cambridge residents and together find solutions.

Q.5 What is your platform?

  • Freeze both residential property and business taxes for the next three years.
  • Bring back community consultation. All large money projects must have residents’ input prior to proceeding.
  • Will go through the city’s budget line by line to find efficiencies and savings for the taxpayer. No more gravy train. Improvements to city infrastructure must be prioritized. As your city councilor, I will safeguard taxpayer money like it is my own.
  • Time to get tough on crime. I’ll fight to give our police all resources necessary to make our streets and neighborhoods safe.
  • Increase housing stock by drastically cutting red tape so developers and builders can get shovels in the ground faster. Building more houses helps lower the price of houses. This can and will be done alongside residents’ input on new developments without excluding and/or compromising current town planning procedures or circumventing democratic processes which ensures citizens’ rights are protected and heard.

Q.6 What do you like to do in your spare time?

Visit with my family, garden and sing.

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Q.7 What is your favourite thing about living in your city/ward?

I love that it is a mixture of old and new and has both farm and city life. I especially love its rivers and natural habitat. I feel so blessed that I get to wake up many mornings to deer roaming around in the green space behind where I live.


Global News has also reached out to Eric Takor but has not received a response as of publication. This copy will be updated as further answers arrive.

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