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The municipal election, a look from afar

Under the new ward system, there will be more than a few interesting races to eye in the months ahead

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

Oshawa council approved the new ward system in June of last year, and by doing so, it appears more than one of them may have sealed their fate in the upcoming election.

Under the city’s previous system, with councillors running at-large, the election was more or less a race to the top. Councillor candidates canvassed the city trying to amass as many votes as they can, all the while pretty much ignoring the other candidates they were vying against.

However, under the new system, four members of current council are staring down opponents they once sat at the same council table with.

It is only one of the intriguing aspects in the upcoming October election.

As a reminder, each ward will elect one regional councillor and one city councillor on voting day. All citizens will also have the opportunity to vote for their chosen mayoral candidate as the mayor doesn’t run in one single ward, but at-large across the city.

Here’s a quick look at each ward and some things to keep in mind as voting day approaches.


Ward 1

The regional race

Candidates: 3

Potential Issues: Being the city’s northernmost ward, it is the only area of the city that still contains any “rural” land, and any councillor running in the area will need to be in touch with the city’s smaller hamlets if they want to gain support. Also, the city’s development is surging north, pushing its way into Columbus. Already, a conglomerate of developers known as the Columbus Builders Group is studying and analyzing the best path forward to push suburban development across the extended Highway 407 and into Columbus. The number of for sale signs along Simcoe Street North in the hamlet may be a sign that people aren’t too pleased with the prospect. Speaking of the 407, any councillor will need to come up with a solution to advocate for the province to release the employment lands around the tolled highway. There is a lot of potential jobs locked up in that land, and if Oshawa is to push forward economically, these lands will prove to be a big part of that. Watch for candidates to dig into these issues come campaign time.

Notes: Historically, John Neal has had strong support in the northern area of the city, having previously held Ward 7, Oshawa’s former northern ward.

However, he is facing off against a former councillor in Cathy Clarke who also knows her way around the northern reaches of the city, previously holding the former Ward 5 for 12 years.

With name recognition proving historically significant for Oshawa voters, newcomer Domenic Barone will have some ground to make up ahead of voting day.


The city race

Candidates: 5

Potential Issues: Similar to their regional counterparts, the eventual successful candidate in Ward 1 will have to have a strong handle on the development occurring in the city’s northern reaches. With ongoing hearings at the Ontario Municipal Board and development plans starting for the Columbus Part II plan, the councillor needs to have a strong hold on zoning bylaws and be educated in the development process in order to be able to quickly come up to speed with the fast evolving northern part of Oshawa

Notes: A few familiar names have found their way onto the city councillor ballot for Ward 1, including Rosemary McConkey, a former mayoral candidate in 2014, who placed third, behind John Henry and John Gray. As well, Diane Stephen is vying for the position, working off her former experience as chair of Heritage Oshawa. Theresa Corless is looking to make the jump from her trustee position with the Durham District School Board along with newcomers Robert Stevenson and Adam White.


Ward 2

The regional race

Candidates: 5

Potential Issues: Still being one of Oshawa’s northern wards, and containing a large portion of the Simcoe Street corridor that is currently bustling with development, candidates will need to have a strong hold on the ongoing pressures being put on the city in terms of this surging growth. Already, issues have been raised around the preservation of heritage, impacts from dust and the potential downstream impacts on the sensitive wetlands and Lake Ontario from the ongoing soil disruption in Oshawa’s north end.

Notes: Ward 2 is another ward that has seen some familiar faces return to the forefront. Former councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri, defeated in the 2014 election, is back looking to regain his seat at the regional table. Daniel Cullen and Julia McCrea, also both familiar faces at city hall, advocating for city issues. George Gus Milosh and Jim Van Allen round out the ballot.


The city race

Candidates: 5

Potential Issues: Running in a ward that contains the university and college will create an interesting dynamic for candidates who must also have a hold on Oshawa’s transient student population. Also, with the Oshawa Executive Airport located in the ward, candidates should be ready to face questions from local residents on airport noise complaints and other issues. The group has proven to be vocal on more than one ocassion, and the election will prove another platform for them to air their concerns.

Notes: Current member of council Gail Bates, appointed following the passing of Nancy Diamond will be looking to hold a council position against four challengers, including Adrian Ginello, Jane Hurst, Jonathan Giancroce and Karen Albrecht.


Ward 3

The regional race

Candidates: 3

Potential Issues: Oshawa’s east-central ward, the area consists of a lot of already existing residential homes that, according to numbers from the Region of Durham, has seen low population growth in recent years and has a higher proportion of residents over the age of 60. It may work for regional candidates to have a good hold on Durham’s Age-Friendly Strategy and the initiatives the region is undertaking to improve the area for our aging population.

Notes: Certainly, the race for regional council in Ward 3 will prove to be one of the more interesting ones in the city. First, one current and one recent member of council are vying for the position, including John Shields and Bob Chapman. Shields, in his first term as councillor, has proven quiet, but strong on particular issues, not always voting with the pack. In 2014, he earned 8,232 votes, behind only Doug Sanders. Interestingly, this was only slightly behind Bob Chapman’s 9,374 votes he earned to gain a regional seat in 2014. The votes were enough for the final available regional seat, beating Marimpietri by 134 votes. More interestingly, Chapman is running in this election after an unsuccessful campaign to defeat Jennifer French to become Oshawa’s MPP. During the campaign, he noted that if he lost the June provincial election, he would not be running for municipal council. However, according to his Twitter page, it was at the urging of community members that he threw his hat back in the ring. The two incumbent councillors will be squaring off as well against Teresa Aker, the wife of longtime councillor John Aker, who announced his retirement from politics ahead of council’s summer recess.


The city race

Candidates: 4

Potential Issues: Similar to their regional counterparts, candidates running in this ward will need to have a strong grasp on the population they are campaigning to. Again, an area consisting of many single-dwelling residential homes, the area should be prepared to see heavy door knocking from candidates.

Notes: Another of the city’s wards that will guarantee a new face at the table, newcomers Ethan Eastwood, Eric Guernsey, Bradley J. Marks, and Cerise Wilson will all be campaigning for votes this fall. Guernsey, having worked alongside MP Colin Carrie in his Oshawa office for some time may have leg up with residents in terms of familiarity.


Ward 4

The regional race

Candidates: 2

Potential Issues: Along with the city’s southernmost ward, Oshawa’s downtown ward is shaping up to be one of the more interesting races to follow come the fall. The issues that could surface at campaign time are numerous. When it comes to demographics, the city’s downtown is one of the worst when it comes to income levels, and many health indicators. The downtown has become a lightning rod for fire service issues in the city after a union study found that downtown residents are more vulnerable to being killed in a fire than other residents in the city. The report has created a rift between the union and fire service management that has yet to be smoothed over. Downtown development, security concerns, and even the Genosha Hotel could all prove to be questions for candidates come debate time.

Notes: While it may be one of the smallest races in this election, it will no doubt be one of the more exciting. The race will see two current members of council Rick Kerr and Doug Sanders facing off for the seat at the regional table. Sanders, appointed to the region following the passing of Nancy Diamond will be looking to retain the seat while Kerr will be eyeing a jump from his current city councillor role after being passed over twice for an appointment to the regional level.


The city race

Candidates: 10

Potential Issues: As noted, any number of potential topics could prove to be strong fodder not only for candidates seeking campaign pillars, but also for residents to turn around and seek answers from those who will eventually be representing them. Ward 4 is a critical part of the city, and both candidates and residents should be aware that what happens in the city centre bleeds out and impacts the entire city.

Notes: By far the busiest ballot this election with 10 names filling the sheet, including Derek Giberson,  Michael Goodmurphy, Catherine Hawthorn, Elizabeth Jamischak, Matthew Kotsopoulos, Mark Logan, Greg Milosh, Clayton Patterson, Dave Thompson, and Chris Topple.


Ward 5

The regional race

Candidates: 3

Potential Issues: The south end of Oshawa has had a sour reputation for some time. The stigma around the area has held on for years, but slowly, residents are starting to fight back and the area is beginning to become known for things other than crime, although, candidates will need to have a handle on the criminal element in this area as well if they want to sit at the regional table. For regional candidates, knowing the area, and the people will be critical. The south end of Oshawa, and the vocal proponents for the area are a tight-knit community. While the area may be large, many of those in the area view themselves as neighbours even if they don’t live on the same street. Someone who knows the ward, and the people, will definitely have  leg up on the competition.

Notes: A trio of candidates are vying for the position. Current councillor Nester Pidwerbecki will be looking to keep his seat in the council chambers against challengers Brian Nicholson, a ward resident and former councillor, and Kim Beatty.


The city race

Candidates: 3

Potential Issues: At the city level, a number of potential issues are swirling around the city’s waterfront. Front of mind is the future of the Oshawa harbour lands. Despite opening a large swath of the land for public use this summer, the area is still without any public access for boats to Lake Ontario and the relationship between the Port Authority and the city continues to raise eyebrows. The lack of a formulated waterfront strategy could also prove to be a torch to be picked up by a willing candidate.

Notes: Similar to the path taken by the late Nancy Diamond, former mayor John Gray is looking to make his return to politics at the council level. Interestingly, while appearing before the Police Services Board earlier this year, the former mayor noted he would not be running politically in the upcoming election. Gray will be campaigning against Alex Down and Joe Lococo.