It’s election season here in Guelph! The nominations are open for this fall’s Municipal Election, and interested residents are filing their papers to run for positions as mayor, for city council and for a spot on one of the local school boards. Each week, this space will break down who’s new to the race, who’s running again, and where we’re still waiting for someone to show an interest!
After having served on city council for 20 of the last 28 years, Ward 5 Councillor Cathy Downer filed her nomination papers this week to run for another four. Downer is the first candidate to file for Ward 5 this cycle, and will likely be a frontrunner given the 39.14 per cent of the vote she received in 2018. (Her wardmate Leanne Caron won just two more points to finish in first place.)
But while one veteran member of council has signalled her intention to get another term, a colleague from Ward 3 has signalled her intention to move on. “I’m not retiring. I’m just re-wiring,” June Hofland told Guelph Today this week. “I’m just moving on to something else.
“I found it really hard to make my official decision because I’m giving up a job I love, for the most part,” Hofland said about her decision not to run again. “I think there’s an expiration date … for all politicians. […] Making space for new potential candidates, that creates a more healthy democracy.”
Hofland has been a Ward 3 Councillor since 2006, and has been subsequently re-elected three more times although in 2014 her narrow margin of victory prompted a recount when she secured just five more votes than the next candidate, Craig Chamberlain.
Hofland will join Bob Bell, Mike Salisbury and James Gordon in retirement this fall. Her announcement also means that “lame duck” administration rules will take effect between August 19 and mid-November when a new council is inaugurated meaning that council will be unable to make decisions during that time period since less than two-thirds of the current council will be returning for the next term.
The only new face to file their papers this week was not really a new face if you follow local politics. Morgan Dandie, who people may recognize from several council delegations over the years, or her role as one of the organizers of the weekly Breezy Breakfast groups, will run in the new Ward 2. There are currently three people running in Ward 2 including Dandie, and they are one-term incumbent Rodrigo Goller, and newcomer Rob Osburn, a local filmmaker and promoter.
Reminder: If you’re a woman looking to get involved in local politics, but there will be a Guelph Women’s Municipal Campaign School on Saturday June 18 at 10C Shared Space downtown. There will be information-sharing and networking for women who are running – or thinking about running – in the upcoming municipal election, plus there will be a panel discussion of the issues that are most important to Guelph citizens. You can get your tickets here.
The fates of Dan Gibson, Phil Allt, Christine Billings, and Leanne Caron are still unknown.
It’s also unknown when we might see some more candidates in any of the local school board races. So far, only one person has filed nomination papers to run for school board trustee, but they’re a new candidate, none of the incumbent Guelph candidates have filed for re-election in either the Upper Grand or Wellington Catholic District School Boards. Perhaps that will change as the school year comes to an end in the next couple of weeks.
It’s worth nothing that when the next edition of this series drops next Sunday, there will be exactly two months left for interested candidates in all races to file their nomination paperwork.
The deadline for applying to run for mayor, city council, or any of the school board positions is August 19 at 2 pm. Election Day is October 24.