Voters have important decisions to make before they head to the polls on Oct. 24 for the Ontario municipal election.

In the townships of Wellesley, Wilmot, Woolwich and North Dumfries, electors will select their choices for mayor, ward councillor and school board trustees – with the exception of several races where candidates are running unopposed.

The mayors of Waterloo region townships also sit on regional council.

There will be no contest for mayor in two of the four townships this year. Joe Nowak is running unopposed in Wellesley Township, as is Sue Foxton in North Dumfries.

In Wilmot Township, two people are in the running for current mayor Les Armstrong’s vacant site.

In Woolwich, Patrick Merlihan is taking on incumbent Sandy Shantz.

CTV News reached out to each of them to get a better idea of who they are, why they’re running, and what they think is the biggest issue facing their township.

All candidates were sent the same three questions.


Jenn Pfenning

Jenn Pfenning

Who are you?

• Passionate advocate for the environment, community, and infrastructure

• 20+ years as Co-Owner of Pfenning's Organic Vegetables Inc - 700-acre vegetable farm and wholesale business, 100+ strong team

• Current Wilmot Township Councillor, Ward 4

• Wife, Mother & Community Volunteer

Why are you running?

• Having the honour to be a Councillor for Ward 4 in Wilmot Township for the past 4 years, I am offering my service to the community out of gratitude for the life I have here.

• Throughout this term, I realized there were important local issues I would like to address that would require my services on a full-time basis as Mayor.

• I am passionate about issues regarding the community, infrastructure, and the environment. Specifically, I would work to develop strategies & policy initiatives that support community building, support continued development of local dog parks & Wilmot Trails, seek an addition to procurement policies for fair labour practices & advocate for social justice & food security.

• Having worked to build the family farm business alongside my husband and in-laws over the past 25+ years, I have the necessary skills and experience that serve well in leading the township

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the Township of Wilmot and how do you plan to address it?

• Our community is set to grow by 30% over the next 30 years under the newly approved Regional Official Plan. As we grow it is critically important that we protect farmland. We must also have a plan in place to help new arrivals connect with the community to ensure they feel a sense of belonging and inclusion. Healthy, well-functioning communities don't just happen by accident. The municipal government has a key role to play in partnering with community groups and businesses to ensure there are well thought-out and effective strategies in place to strengthen and build-forward for the future community needs. This means making sure people quickly develop a feeling of belonging by being connected to services, community events, and their neighbours.

• We can achieve this through programming, community design during building phases, and appropriately designed infill and intensification projects. Healthy communities also need infrastructure that works to reduce the community's contribution to climate change and that is resilient to its impacts. Ensuring our asset management strategy and plan are well designed and effectively implemented is critical to achieving that resilience and ensuring we have the tools to reach our climate goals.

Natasha Salonen

Who are you?

Born, raised and active in Wilmot. I have over ten years of political experience at the post-secondary, Provincial, and Federal levels. In my time serving MPs and MPPs I have learnt about the issues facing Wilmot residence and I have valuable understanding of policy and the inner workers of government.

Why are you running?

I believe Wilmot needs strong leadership to provide accountable, knowledge-based, transparent and responsible stewardship for current and future generations. With my experience, education, and passion for our community, offering my expertise to serve to Wilmot in the role of mayor is a logical next step. And I want to advocate for our community as we move forward, to ensure we maintain our small town feel while growing and ensure we do not become a bedroom community.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the Township of Wilmot and how do you plan to address it?

Wilmot township has many issues that are top of mind for residents including, affordability, responsible growth, and bringing the community back together. I plan to address these uses through collaboration with fellow councillors, Wilmot residents, and the Region and providing stewardship for the township by making knowledge-based, transparent and informed council decisions. Rebuilding the community's trust in council by improving communication and refocusing council to issues under municipal jurisdiction. As for affordability; making fiscally responsible policy and decisions at council, including investments for future infrastructure. Holding the region accountable for the use of township tax dollars. And growing Wilmot's ability to be investment ready and attract new opportunities for the community.

A list of people running for councillor in Wilmot is available here.


Patrick Merlihan

Patrick Merilihan

Who are you?

My name is Patrick Merlihan. I started a successful newspaper business in my hometown when I was 22. I am married, raised two boys and decided to run for office in 2014 at 42 and won two elections. I have learned a lot and want to make local government work better for residents. At almost 50 I’m running for Mayor to make sure Woolwich Township is a place for everyone.

Why are you running?

There is a disconnect between our residents, towns and villages and local government. I’ve been an active and engaged politician that can make things happen for communities across the township. I’m an excellent communicator and bring an authentic, homegrown approach that people trust. I’m great at coming up with solutions, finding common ground and passionate about community-building projects to improve our communities.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the Township of Woolwich and how do you plan to address it?

Growth continues to be Woolwich’s most pressing issue. The impact from growth is being felt across the township with increased traffic and congestion, strained sense of belonging among residents, and township financial stress. My campaign slogan “A Woolwich for Everyone” talks about connecting our communities. I’ll skip the cookie-cutter township-wide approach to planning and create community plans in consultation with its residents and businesses in each community. I’ll empower neighbourhoods to connect with each other to address traffic-calming, communication and sense of belonging. I’ll empower staff to be innovative and modernize our services to make better use of staff time and resources. I’ve been listening to the community. A new fresh perspective is required to make the change we desire.

Sandy Shantz (incumbent)

Sandy Shantz has not responded to CTV’s candidate survey

A list of people running for councillor in Woolwich is available here.


Sue Foxton will be acclaimed as mayor. A list of candidates running for councillor is available here.


Joe Nowak will be acclaimed as mayor. A list of candidates running for councillor is available here.