On Oct. 24, voters across Waterloo Region will head to the polls to elect city and regional councillors, mayors and a regional chair.
Residents of Kitchener, the region’s largest city, will elect councillors in 10 wards as well as a mayor to form city council.
There will be at least three new faces in place, as Ward 3 Coun. John Gazzola, Ward 5 Coun. Kelly Galloway Sealock and Ward 10 Coun. Sarah Marsh have chosen not to seek re-election.
In Ward 8, Aleena Aftab has stepped forward as the sole challenger to Coun. Margaret Johnston, who is seeking a second term on council.
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 Kitchener, with the candidates being listed in alphabetical order.
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 the incumbent Ward 8 City Councillor (since 2018) as well as a business developer in Co-operative Education at the University of Waterloo. I was previously a Waterloo Region District School Board Trustee for Kitchener from 2010-2014. I have lived in Ward 8 for 21 years and raised my daughters here in the Westmount neighbourhood.
Q.2 Why do you believe you are the right person for the job?
All aspects of my career have been in public relations, whether that was working for government, in fund development, relationship management or business development. I love working with and helping people. I look for ways to support, listen and act. I work very well with my council colleagues, and with staff, that’s how you get things done. When I ran four years ago, I promised Positive, Collaborative Change, if re-elected I will continue to bring Positive, Collaborative, Leadership to Ward 8.
Q.3 What do you think is the most important issue facing your ward and the city as a whole?
There is no one issue, nor are there easy answers on the challenges that face us over the next four years, as a Council, we will continue to focus on:
Housing, affordability, equity, diversity, inclusion and sustainability.
Q.4 Looking down the road, what are your long-term goals for the city?
To bring about social change with an emphasis and focus on the important issues I outlined above housing, affordability, equity, diversity, inclusion and sustainability. No easy task, we will be facing difficult issues in the next term.
Q.5 What is your platform?
We need steady, experienced, compassionate leadership over the next four years. I promise to listen, learn and act with an eye to the big picture for our community.
Intensification and growth will continue. We are in a housing crisis. I continue my pledge to hold the country-side line which means we have to grow up.
I will continue connecting residents with regional councillors on regional issues to ensure Ward 8 concerns are heard at the Regional level. Our actions are inter-woven.
We must continue our collective focus on sustainability. We declared a climate crisis and must continue to work collectively to reduce Green House gas emissions, protect our Urban forest, as well as continue to develop our parks and active transportation strategies.
Economic development is always top of mind for me. I want to continue my work on the Economic Development Advisory Council in addition to my work with the Belmont Village BIA.
Q.6 What do you like to do in your spare time?
Family time is precious to me. My adult children do not live near by and when we get together with our partners, the time we spend is really special. We enjoy outdoor time and are voracious and competitive board game players.
Q.7 What is your favourite thing about living in your city/ward?
The diversity and engagement of the residents. There is no ‘one size fits all’ for Ward 8. I enjoy learning their perspectives and looking for common ground where concensus can be built.
Global News has also reached out to Aleena Aftab but has not received a response as of publication. This copy will be updated as further answers arrive.