By Doug Hallett
With 22 days to go until the nomination deadline for the Oct. 27 civic elections, some local incumbents are still keeping their options open about seeking re-election.
Ward 1 councillor Bob Bell – one of four city council members who hadn’t yet officially declared their intentions by this week – told the Tribune on Tuesday that he will file his nomination papers within a couple of weeks.
The other Ward 1 representative, first-time councillor Jim Furfaro, indicated he hasn’t yet made up his mind. “I will be making my decision regarding council at the end of this month,” he said in an email sent Tuesday in response to a Tribune query.
Ward 2 councillor Ian Findlay also wasn’t ready to say whether he’ll toss his hat into the ring again. “No decision yet. Will let you know,” he said in an email.
The other Ward 2 councillor, Andy Van Hellemond, said Wednesday he’s “leaning to run” but will decide Monday.
At the local Catholic school board, as of Wednesday morning, nomination papers hadn’t yet been filed by any incumbents to run again for the four Guelph seats on the six-member board.
However, board chair Marino Gazzola said Tuesday he will seek re-election.
A trustee since 1990, he has served a total of 10 years as chair of the Wellington Catholic District School Board.
Gazzola is the past president of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association and is also currently vice-president of the Canadian Catholic School Trustees Association.
The only candidate who has filed papers to run for a Guelph seat on the Catholic board, as of Wednesday, is recently retired Our Lady of Lourdes high school history teacher Joe Tersigni. He filed on June 16.
Stephen Redmond, a Guelph trustee who has served two terms on the Catholic board, told the Tribune on Wednesday that he will not seek re-election this fall.
There was a flurry of nominations for council seats and the mayor’s job in early January after nominations opened, but significant periods of time went by without any new nominations since then.
School board nominations, for both the public and Catholic boards, have been slow all along.
Friday Sept. 12 at 2 p.m. is the deadline not only to file a nomination for the civic elections, but also to withdraw a nomination.
Guelph saw its first withdrawal this week. Robert Routledge, who filed his papers on Jan. 10, withdrew from the Ward 5 council race on Tuesday.
His departure leaves three candidates, all of them veteran councillors or ex-councillors loyal to Mayor Karen Farbridge, battling it out for the two Ward 5 seats.
Incumbents Lise Burcher and Leanne Piper, who are among Farbridge’s strongest supporters on council, are being challenged by former councillor Cathy Downer.
Downer, who served four terms before deciding not to seek re-election in 2006, was Farbridge’s campaign manager in the 2010 election campaign.
Both incumbents are also running in Ward 3 (June Hofland and Maggie Laidlaw) and in Ward 6 (Todd Dennis and Karl Wettstein).
But in the west end’s Ward 4 there’s a wide open race, as its two councillors aren’t in the running.
Veteran trustee Gloria Kovach has announced she won’t seek re-election, and first-term councillor Cam Guthrie is running for mayor.
Vying so far for the open Ward 4 seats are public school board trustee Linda Busuttil, former city councillors Mike Salisbury and Gary Walton, and three others – Laurie Garbutt, Greg Roffey and Mark Briestensky.
Garbutt, who launches her campaign with a “Meet the Candidate” gathering today (Aug. 21) at 7 p.m. at 55 Castlebury Dr., hasn’t run for public office before but says she has considerable leadership experience.
A former school teacher and small business owner, Garbutt has worked since 2011 for the Upper Grand local of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, including as a staff officer.
“I am a strong advocate for equity and I want to see our city flourish with living wages, community engagement and the needs of our citizens freely addressed,” she said in a news release on Tuesday.
“I hope to bring council’s attention to the many volunteer organizations that are working to care for our community and develop increased support of these programs so that we can eliminate the ridiculously high poverty rate in Guelph,” she said.
Roffey described himself Tuesday as a lifelong resident of Guelph who has lived in Ward 4 for 20 years.
“I believe I will make a difference by being a readily available, easily approachable councillor, willing to discuss issues and make sound, responsible decisions,” he told the Tribune in an email.
“I am fiscally conservative and think that city council should always remember to spend our citizens tax dollars wisely and with the greatest respect and forethought.”
Briestensky couldn’t be reached for comment.
Mark Paralovos, one of three non-incumbents running in Ward 2, said Tuesday that he hasn’t run for public office before but was elected as a union steward for the SEIU health-care union from 2008 to 2010.
“I am running because the climate at city hall needs a serious change,” Paralovos said in an email.
“From spending our tax money on frivolous things like integrity commissioners and major construction downtown that the majority of the public seems to be against, to ignoring stormwater management and transit lockouts, I feel that the people currently at city hall need to be held accountable for not putting citizens first.”
In all, 26 candidates – three in Ward 1, three in Ward 2, six in Ward 3, six in Ward 4, three in Ward 5 and five in Ward 6 – are currently in the running for council seats. There are also seven candidates for mayor, with Farbridge and Guthrie the best known.
Meanwhile, the 10-member Upper Grand District School Board has only three declared candidates so far for its five Guelph area seats.
In the Upper Grand area consisting of Wards 1 and 5, Juanita Burnett and former trustee Ralph Edwards are the only candidates who have filed nomination papers to run for the area’s two seats. With Busuttil gunning for a Ward 4 council seat, there is a seat up in this area for grabs.
The other seat in this part of Guelph is held by board chair Mark Bailey, who told the Tribune on Wednesday that he will file his papers within a week.
In the area consisting of Wards 2, 3 and 4, veteran trustee Susan Moziar has filed her papers, but veteran trustee Jennifer Waterston has not. Waterston couldn’t be reached for comment.
In the area comprising Guelph’s Ward 6 and the Township of Puslinch, current board vice-chair Marty Fairbairn has also not indicated if he will run again.