A couple of rematches, some familiar faces reprising new roles, a surprising last minute resignation and a couple of acclamations pretty much sums up the narrative of this year’s municipal elections in Oakville.
Nominations for candidates ended on July 27 at 2 pm for those looking to run in Oakville as well as across the other municipalities in Halton Region.
Map of Oakville’s seven wards, courtesy of Town of Oakville
One major change for the 2018 elections is the addition of one new ward, carved out of the growing northern part of town. That means two extra seats around Oakville council chambers to accommodate an additional town and regional councillor.
Voters will elect a mayor, one town and regional councillor (for Halton Regional Council) and school trustees in each of Oakville’s seven wards.
Let’s take a look at the candidates running in the 2018 municipal elections.
First elected as mayor in 2006, Rob Burton was re-elected in 2010 with 52 per cent of the vote and in 2014 with 67 per cent of the vote. He almost became mayor in 2003, but ended up losing to the incumbent by a razor-thin margin of 12 votes.
Burton’s time as mayor has been focused on controlling growth, saving green space and making key investments in services and infrastructure. All the while keeping tax increases at or below inflation.
The mayor is facing only two candidates this election: lawyer and returning 2014 mayoral candidate John McLaughlin, as well as entrepreneur Julia Hanna, who opened a string of restaurants in Oakville such as Café Galleria, Paradiso, Ristorante Julia and Ritorno.
Hanna appears to be running under the familiar theme of fighting for taxpayers. “Taxpayers aren’t an unlimited piggy bank. Council needs to treat your tax dollars like it is their own,” she said on her website.
Halton Regional Chair
Unlike neighbouring Peel and in other regions, Halton still has an election for regional chair.
First elected in 2006 after a career as a provincial MPP and federal MP, Gary Carr is running for his fourth term as chair. For some time, it looked as though he would be acclaimed, but Anne Marsden registered to run as the deadline came and went.
Marsden is a former Burlington mayoral candidate who also ran for regional chair back in 2000, but as of this writing she has no information on her website. Carr is running the classic frontrunner campaign, touting his holding the line on taxes, investing in infrastructure, and job creation.
Ward 1 (Town and Regional)
Coun. Ralph Robinson, who has been the town councillor since 1982, was set to run for a record twelfth term but dropped out of the running on the last day, leaving four candidates vying to succeed him: June Campbell, Donovan Cox, John B. Rishworth and Beth Robertson.
Robertson is a 30 year Oakville resident with various volunteering roles under her belt, Rishworth is a VP of business development with a creative marketing agency, and Cox has professional experiences with aerospace and biofuels companies who now practices real estate.
In the regional councillor race, Coun. Sean O’Meara is seeking a second term after defeating incumbent Alan Johnston in 2014. This year, O’Meara is facing real estate agent Obaro Akpomena, who immigrated to Canada from Nigeria, and Numair Khan.
Ward 2 (Town and Regional)
It’s going to be a quiet night on the regional council front in Ward 2, as incumbent Cathy Duddeck was acclaimed back into office since no one else registered to run for that position by the July 27 deadline.
A different story is unfolding in the town councillor race. Incumbent Ray Chisholm was elected in a 2016 by-election after then councillor Pam Damoff was elected as MP for Oakville North-Burlington. Chisholm defeated ten other candidates, including Damoff’s son Fraser, in that by-election.
Now Fraser is back again, challenging Chisholm for the town councillor position, which he announced he was going to do back in April. A third candidate, lawyer Gordon Zlatko Bobesich, is also running.
Ward 3 (Town and Regional)
Regional Coun. Dave Gittings has been acclaimed for another four year term on council, as no one registered to run for the Ward 3 regional seat.
In the town council race, incumbent Nick Hutchins is running for his second term after beating seven other candidates in 2014. This time, Hutchins faces financial services professional Vivianne MacKinnon and Janet Haslett-Theall, the president of the Joshua Creek Residents Association.
Ward 4 (Town and Regional)
Former 2014 mayoral candidate Gordon Brennan is challenging incumbent Allan Elgar and Rob Cottingham for the regional council seat. Brennan’s website is slightly outdated as it refers to what he would do as mayor, but he’s quite outspoken about a variety of issues and promises to release a more detailed platform down the road.
The town councillor race is slightly intriguing as it involves an incumbent appointed by the other councillors. Peter Longo was appointed to serve as Ward 4 town councillor after Roger Lapworth resigned for personal reasons. As he was not actually bound by any promise not to run in the fall election, Longo registered on July 27 to seek a full four year term.
But Longo has to face six other candidates who want the job as well: Rohit Dhamija (who also sought the appointment back in May), Ishrani Henry, Muneezah Jawad, Michael Langford, Susan Sheppard and Nauman Waheed.
Ward 5 (Town and Regional)
It’s here where we may see a repeat of the 2014 tight races for incumbent town councillor Marc Grant and regional councillor Jeff Knoll.
Grant won in 2014 with 51 per cent of the vote, with sizable chunks of support split between three out of four other candidates. This time, the councillor is facing two challengers: Sushila Pereira (a volunteer with the Ontario Seniors Citizens Centers) and Michael Reid, a Senior Law Clerk at Will Davidson LLP and a member of Oakville’s Heritage Advisory Committee.
But the major council race this year may be Knoll’s re-election bid against former Oakville mayor Ann Mulvale. Mulvale was mayor from 1988 to 2006, when she lost to Burton (she had barely survived a previous challenge from him in 2003, squeaking back into office by 12 votes).
Mulvale has attempted previous returns to municipal government since her 2006 loss, including a rematch with Burton in 2010 and running for Ward 5 regional council in 2014. In that year, she lost to Knoll by 140 votes. Now the former mayor is back at it again, with a third candidate, Sheena Sandhu, joining the fray.
Ward 6 (Town and Regional)
Ward 6 residents will still have to cast ballots for mayor and trustees for both school boards, but they will not be voting for their town and regional councillors as both were acclaimed since no other candidates registered to run in Ward 6 for either council position.
That means regional councillor Tom Adams and town councillor Natalia Lishchyna will be heading back to town hall for another four years. Just four years ago, Adams got almost 94 per cent of the vote and Lishchyna was elected in a 2016 by-election with 51 per cent.
At some point, maybe even by 2022, Burton is going to leave the mayor’s chair. Could we see either Adams or Lishchyna as possible mayoral hopefuls in four years time?
Ward 7 (Town and Regional)
In the newest ward in Oakville, they are guaranteed a new town and regional councillor as no incumbents exist to run for re-election.
In the town council race, four candidates are running to be the new councillor: Adrian Paris (who worked as communications coordinator for the City of Guelph), Ajay Rosha, lawyer Jasvinder Sandhu, and realtor Saima Zaidi, a former provincial NDP candidate who ran in Oakville North-Burlington in the June 7 election.
In the regional council race, there are five names to choose from: Shahrez Daniyal Hayder, Amir Henry, Shahab Khan, business consultant Nav Nanda and former small businessperson and current consultant with BDO Canada Pavan Parmar.
Oakville will also be electing four trustees to the Halton District School Board. With the exception of Ward 4, all other trustees will represent two ward each.
Wards 1 and 2
Incumbent trustee Tracey Ehl Harrison is running for re-election against Abdullahi Jama, Jerry Danes Kalata and Hamzah Khan.
Wards 3 and 6
Ward 3 was combined with Ward 6, as the latter was moved from Ward 5. There are two new faces as incumbent Ann Harvey Hope is not running: Tanya Rocha and May Xie.
First elected in 2014, trustee Joanna Oliver is running for a second term. She is also the wife of Oakville’s federal MP John Oliver. Her only opponent is Renzo Mesia, a student from the University of Ottawa.
Wards 5 and 7
Ward 5 is now combined with the new Ward 7, replacing Ward 6. Trustee Kelly Amos was acclaimed four years ago, but now has to face one opponent: Cheryl DeLugt, a school council co-chair from Lester B. Pearson High School.
Oakville also elects three trustees to the Halton Catholic school board on an at-large basis (representing schools from the entire town); there are eight candidates running for those three spots.
You can check here for a full list of registered candidates in the Oakville municipal elections.
Voting takes place on October 22.