1. 10th term
Ken Seiling throws his hat in the ring for a 10th term, as of January 2014. Seiling was first elected to Regional Council as Regional Chair in 1985, and was the first directly elected Regional Chair in 1997. His pet project, light rail transit, becomes basis for many debates.
2. Mayor Zehr
On Feb. 4, 2014, Kitchener Mayor, Carl Zehr announces he will not be seeking re-election. Mayor Zehr has held the position of Mayor since 1997, and the longest serving Mayor in the history of the city. This means a new face heading Kitchener come 2015.
3. Voting options
Hoping to improve voter turn- out, the City of Cambridge announces it will have the option of voting online or by telephone, for the 2014 municipal election. The 2010 municipal election saw a voter turn out of less than 29 per cent. The total cost is $60,000, but means easier, faster and more efficient voting.
4. Aissa enters
After a failed lawsuit against the Region of Waterloo in March 2014, local business owner and anti-light rail transit mogul Jay Aissa filed his papers to join the race to become the next Regional Chair. Aissa ran on the platform of reduced government spending – primarily focusing on cancel- ling the $818 million rapid transit project.
5. Expense mistake
Discrepancies in Woolwich Mayor, Todd Cowan’s expense claims for 2013 and 2014 led Woolwich Township council to ask Waterloo Regional Police to investigate. An apparent mistake, which Cowan repaid, leads to a new process for cross-referencing expenses for council members and the Mayor.
6. Brewer drops out
Cambridge Regional Councillor and former Mayor Jane Brewer drops out of the regional council race due to illness. Just days after the end of the nomination period, long time Cambridge Regional Councillor Jane Brewer withdrew from the Regional Council race due to illness. Expressing concern that she would be unable to fulfill her duties, Brewer decided to bow out of the race rather than have to resign. It’s worth noting that even after withdrawing, she received over 4,700 votes.
2014 brought big party politics to the municipal level. With lawsuits filed for libel, robocalls painting candidates as tax-hungry wolves and attack ads, this year showed that some will do anything to win. Long-time Kitchener mayor Carl Zehr, was so ‘disturbed’ with the nega- tive tone of the election that he penned a poignant op-ed in the Record, encour- aging voters to choose candidates with high levels of integrity.
8. Rahimi email
The morning of Oct. 14 was marked by news that Kitchener Mayoral candidate Dan Glenn-Graham had allegedly sent Kitchener Ward 2 candidate Wasai Rahimi an email asking him to step out of the race and support opponent fellow Ward 2 candidate, Dan Graham. The email was later found to have been sent to Rahimi by a Glenn-Graham volunteer.
9. LRT keeps going
In what some are calling an un- official referendum, Waterloo Region voters finally closed the question of whether or not the Region should move forward with LRT – despite the fact that many public forums approved the project and that construction had already started. “There were no members of council elected who were in favour of cancelling the project” said Regional Chair, Ken Seiling.
10. Voter turnout
Despite best efforts to encourage citizen engagement, the 2014 municipal campaign saw stagnant voter turnout across Waterloo Region. In Kitchener voter turnout increased 2.5 per cent from 27.41 per cent in 2010 to 29.94 per cent. Waterloo saw a 5.2 per cent decrease in turnout, going from 41.16 per cent in 2010 to 35.93 per cent this year. Wool- wich, North Dumfries township and Cambridge kept numbers around the same mark as 4 years ago while Guelph and Wellesley saw 2 digit in- creases, 11.07 per cent and 17.81 per cent respectively.