The ‘out with the old, in with the new’ phenomenon was in full force during this week’s election in Woolwich’s Ward 1. At least one new face was expected, as incumbent Sandy Shantz declined to run again, but voters chose to send two newcomers to council: Allan Poffenroth and Julie-Anne Herteis.
“I think people just needed a bit of change,” said Poffenroth of why he was elected. “We’ve had a lot of the same people for many years, and I think we need a different slate, and newer, fresher ideas. That’s why we saw four of five of the council spots were given to new people.”
Long-time councillor Ruby Weber finished third with 1,178 votes, making Poffenroth (1,775 votes) and Herteis (1,257) the new representatives for Elmira. Jim David garnered 747 votes and Mary Young, who removed herself from the race shortly after nominations closed, still managed to get selected on 297 ballots.
Herteis, running her first campaign for political office, said she didn’t know what to expect from the process.
“When people asked how I thought I would do, I said I had a 25-per-cent chance,” she joked, alluding to the four candidates vying for a Ward 1 seat.
Herteis, 46, said she was somewhat surprised by the win. “I heard that it was going to be tight between Ruby and me.”
Now, with the election behind her, Herteis said the real work sets in, a reality she started to come to terms with just minutes after the results were announced Monday night. She predicts a fair amount of hard work right off the bat as she and her fellow newcomers to council try to get up to speed.
“I hope people out there understand that there’s going to be a steep learning curve,” she said, looking for the public’s patience.
Poffenroth, a lifelong Elmira resident, said his main concern is with the large number of vacant buildings in the downtown core. The township, he argues, should be taking a bigger role in finding tenants for those buildings.
A realtor for the last 40 years, he said he has a keen interest in protecting the buildings of Elmira.
“I don’t sell real estate anymore as much, but I can bring that skill to the table.”
He said he takes pride in the community, and that the councillors should do the same by planting more trees and funding more projects to improve the look of the town, for instance.
“I have a few projects in mind that I am going to suggest and hopefully can implement them in time,” he said of his plans for his new role.
For Ward 1 hopeful Jim David, who finished fourth, the results were not unexpected.
“I was surprised I did as well as I did,” said David, who watched the results from home. “I was a bit of a long shot, as I thought Ruby had the inside edge and Allan is very well known in the community.
“It is what it is. The winds of change blew and they blew strong. The voters spoke and that’s what they wanted.”