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 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.
In Ward 8, longtime Coun. Nicolas Ermeta will look to fend off a trio of challengers including Jack Perkes, Vandan Patel and David Hood.
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 as received from those running for councillor in Cambridge, with the candidates being listed in alphabetical order. (This page will be updated if more candidates choose to respond.):
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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.)
Hello friends, it has been an absolute honour to serve you as your Cambridge City Councillor for the past 12 years. I was first elected when I was 26. I have lived in Cambridge for the past 29 years. I grew up in Ward 8. I went to St Margaret Elementary School and St Benedict High School. When I was a kid, I worked at Saginaw Parkway and Franklin Boulevard Short Stop for a number of years. I also delivered newspapers in the neighbourhood. The ward helped make me who I am. I have always had an interest in city building and would often check out the new homes being built in the neighbourhood back when I was a kid. My background is Urban & Regional Planning from both Mohawk College and the University of Waterloo. I am the eldest of six siblings – have three brothers and two sisters.
Q.2 Why do you believe you are the right person for the job?
I recognize the issues and can get things done. If the item does not fall under the jurisdiction of Cambridge City Council, I will advocate on your behalf to the other levels of government.
During my time on council, I readily responded to concerns from organizations and residents regarding a wide variety of issues.
My accomplishments to date (and it’s a team effort) include and are not limited to: many playground replacements, stop light at Townline Road and Saginaw Parkway, lighting on Townline Road, Witmer Park improvements (basketball courts, gazebo, and multi-purpose sports area (with wall that can be used for neighbourhood movie nights)), Franklin Boulevard Sportsplex expansion, treed buffer on perimeter of Saginaw Golf Course development (I still opposed the development because would rather greenspace), breaking up Saginaw Parkway townhouse facades along by leaving mature forest in-between, more stone on Saginaw Parkway townhouse facades than previously planned, sale of Diwali fireworks in stores, language translators at community public meetings, trees down the middle of Cowan and Franklin Boulevards, some neighbourhood traffic calming, pedestrian island seniors crosswalk on Conestoga Boulevard, Conestoga Boulevard bike lanes, and more.
I have demonstrated my strong beliefs in diversity and inclusivity in our community by participating in numerous functions, festivals and parades put on by members of our ethnic communities.
Q.3 What do you think is the most important issue facing your ward and the city as a whole?
The cost of living due to inflation and increasing housing costs. We can’t fix inflation at the municipal level however we can try to provide relief by better managing future tax rates. We need to find other ways to bring in money such as more sponsorship opportunities. I will continue to advocate for this.
Community safety is an issue. Residents want more traffic calming measures to reduce speeding. We need safer crosswalks. We also need more police on the street in our neighbourhoods to try to reduce break-ins.
While we have improved recreational opportunities, we still need more recreational amenities to meet the needs of the growing population.
Q.4 Looking down the road, what are your long-term goals for the city?
Complete the long-awaited Cambridge Sportsplex.
Making more progress in trying to resolve the homelessness issue. Will continue to advocate for solutions such as more affordable / transitional housing and expanded programs. It will take all levels of government working together to solve this.
Helping Cambridge reach more of its full potential by taking advantage of its resources. Would like to use the community incentive program to encourage building renovations beside the Grand River for riverside cafes and restaurants like they do in Paris Ontario. Want to see more recreational activates on the Grand River.
Expand cultural events and make our public spaces more inclusive to everyone.
Plant more trees along major arterial roads to reduce emissions and beautify the city. Sponsorship opportunities can assist with this.
Advocate to upper levels of government to complete the Cambridge bypass and bring GO Train service to Cambridge.
Work to ensure that as we grow, we protect the things we like about this City and that of which make Cambridge unique.
Q.5 What is your platform?
I will table a motion to install additional traffic calming measures in Ward 8. The Conestoga Boulevard and Townline Road crosswalks need a push button light for when people cross.
I will put forward a motion to Council directing staff to come up with a plan to speed up the expansion of Fiddlesticks Community Center.
I will champion other park upgrades throughout Ward 8. I’d like to see a splash pad in Witmer Park and somewhere in the Saginaw Parkway & Cowan Boulevard area. I’d like a new playground built at the Southwest corner of Essex Point Drive & Green Vista Drive. I’d also like a new playground somewhere in the Lena Crescent area – this neighbourhood was initially planned to be an adult lifestyle community that never came to be – so now a number of young families have no access to a park – this is a need that should be addressed. There will be increased development charge funds coming into the City from Ward 8 developments and we need a strong experienced candidate to fight for as many dollars to stay in the Ward as possible.
I will advocate for an expansion of our affordable housing incentive program and to request the region match city initiatives.
I’m only one vote however can be a strong advocate!!!
Q.6 What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m an outdoor person – love swimming and hiking the trails. I enjoy watching movies as well. I’m a family man and spending time with family is important to me.
Q.7 What is your favourite thing about living in your city/ward?
There are many. I love the people, the diversity, central location in the city, and accessibility to nature. Northview Heights Lookout Park is one of my favourite spots in Cambridge and enjoys stunning views across the city with breathtaking sunsets. As we see more development on Hespeler Road, I will make it a priority to try to position any tall buildings in such a way as to not block the views enjoyed by the community. We have amazing neighbourhood associations – Fiddlesticks and Greenway Chaplin – that bring people together with many fun & creative activities. I also enjoy visiting Shades Mills Conservation Area and the Portuguese Swamp Hilborn trail.
Global News has also reached out to Jack Perkes and Vandan Patel but has not received a response as of publication. We were unable to locate an email address to contact David Hood. This copy will be updated as further answers arrive.