It’s a three-person race for city council in Cambridge’s Ward 2 in the upcoming municipal election. Two young candidates, Piyush Nanda, 27, and Matt Rogers, 19, are hoping to unseat incumbent Councillor Mike Devine. Ward 2, which encompasses the village of Hespeler, has been represented by Devine since 2014.
Nanda, an engineer at the Cambridge Toyota factory, says one of the most pressing concerns he’s heard from residents has been property tax rates. “The biggest thing that people have an issue with is the high property taxes … the increased rate of property taxes they’ve seen in the last five years, and the lack of services that they’ve seen come along with it,” he said. Nanda says lowering property taxes long-term is a pillar of his platform.
For Rogers, a student at the University of Waterloo and 13-year Hespeler resident, one of the main issues he’s heard about at the doorstep has been affordable housing. “A lot of people have been mentioning affordable housing, which is awesome to see,” he said, noting that Ward 2 has a rather high rate of home ownership. “The fact that it is an issue, even for those people, is really great to see,” Rogers continued. Additionally, Rogers said that protecting the heritage of Hespeler was a big issue for Ward 2 residents and he has made this a key point of his campaign.
Despite the inherent challenges of facing an incumbent in a municipal election, where voter turnout tends to be significantly lower than in provincial or federal elections, both candidates expressed confidence about their chances on Oct. 24.
“When I started the campaign, I was a bit more doubtful going against an incumbent,” said Nanda. “But based on the feedback I’ve been getting from residents on the fact that they want a change, and that I could be that change that they see, based on that feedback I feel like my chances are fairly good.”
“Pretty good. Surprisingly good,” said Rogers on how he felt about his chances in this election. “The way I see it, I take the community experience that Mike has, and the being a young person and the passion and engagement that Piyush has and combine it into one person.”
With no official pre-election polling, there is no data indicating how Ward 2 residents are leaning one way or the other. Only election day will tell if the two candidates’ optimism will come to fruition.