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2022 Ontario municipal election: Meet the Kitchener Ward 5 council candidates


On Oct. 24, voters across Waterloo Region will head to the polls to elect city and regional councillors, mayors and a regional chair.

Residents of Kitchener, the region’s largest city, will elect councillors in 10 wards as well as a mayor to form city council.

Read more:

Meet the candidates for Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo council

There will be at least three new faces in place, as Ward 3 Coun. John Gazzola, Ward 5 Coun. Kelly Galloway Sealock and Ward 10 Coun. Sarah Marsh have chosen not to seek re-election.

It has been 20 years since anyone other than Gazzola represented the ward on city council and five people have lined up replace him including Ajmer Mandur, John Massimi, Farah Muhammad, Naveed Najmuddin and Ayo Owodunni.

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To help voters ahead of this election, Global News has reached out to all of those running for regional or city council, mayor or regional chair in Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo with available online contact info. Those running for office were emailed a list of seven questions and in the coming days, the responses for every candidate who replies will be shared.

What follows are the responses received from those running for councillor in Kitchener, with the candidates being listed in alphabetical order. (This page will be updated if more candidates choose to respond.):

John Massimi

Q.1 Please give a brief background of yourself including what you do for a living and how long you have lived in the area? (If you are an incumbent, please state how long you have held the position.)

I am currently an Associate with Nurture Development, an organization that supports communities around the world, and an Adjunct Professor at Martin Luther University College (Laurier). In 2017 I completed my doctorate which focused on community development. I have worked in the City of Kitchener for close to a decade as Manager of Community Development at United Way, and Supervisor of Community Centres for the City of Kitchener. I have lived in Kitchener for almost four years.

Q.2 Why do you believe you are the right person for the job? Q.3 What do you think is the most important issue facing your ward and the city as a whole?

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I have chosen to respond to these questions together. The issues I am hearing from residents of Ward 5 are:

  • Road safety
  • Youth involved vandalism
  • An increase in recreational opportunities/space

My track record:

Road safety: Co-founded traffic safety teams. Introduced play streets to neighbourhoods in Ontario. Built connections with the Pace Car initiative and walking school bus.

Youth involved vandalism: As supervisor of community centres I was receiving 14 security calls/week. Built relationships with youth and developed a mentorship program with community members. Security calls went to ZERO.

Recreational opportunities: Created an arts based after school program for youth with specialized needs and their peers. Worked with community members in the delivery of thousands of programs throughout Ontario. As a supervisor, led a team that created, and were the first to pilot, Kitchener’s Book Your Bubble program. This initiative allowed households continued access to community centres gyms during the pandemic.

In terms of city-wide, I believe the issues are social isolation and housing.

Social isolation: I have worked with communities across Canada assisting in the development of neighbourhood associations and citizen groups. In addressing social isolation, I have designed, supported, and implemented a number of neighbourhood development strategies.

Housing: I have helped faith groups find alternative uses for their buildings which have included co-workspaces, recording studios, performance spaces, and affordable housing.

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Q.4 Looking down the road, what are your long-term goals for the city?

My long-term goal is the development of a strong local democracy. I am a firm believer in the power of community. Over the last little while I have witnessed an increase in municipal overreach in the name of community development. I believe there needs to be a relocation of power/authority by placing certain powers and functions back into local contexts. From this, I am looking to empower and capacitate local people in making their neighbourhoods a better place. As a leading community development professional my work is guided by three questions: (1) What functions can community members perform by themselves? (2) What functions can community members do with some additional help from institutions/government? (3) What functions must institutions/government perform on their own? Unfortunately, institutions/governments tend to begin with the third question which in turn creates a dependency on the services they provide.

Q.5 What is your platform?

I believe that strong communities are community driven, here is my platform:

  • Invest in local leadership by supporting an increase in the number, and support given to neighbourhood associations and community groups.
  • Say no to projects that our community is not properly consulted on.
  • Resource, develop and pilot initiatives that positively impact the well-being of children, youth and their families.
  • I serve the community, for this reason I will utilize #OPENGOV best practices so residents will have complete, detailed, easy to find, access to all my expenses, spending, attendance and voting history.

Q.6 What do you like to do in your spare time?

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I enjoy reading, writing, and spending time with family and friends. I also collect WWF wrestling memorabilia from the ‘80s. My collection was part of an exhibit back in 2019.

Q.7 What is your favourite thing about living in your city/ward?

Access to nature, recreation and farm fresh produce.


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Farah Muhammad

Q.2 Why do you believe you are the right person for the job? 

I believe I am a passionate person who can deliver what the community wants.

Q.3 What do you think is the most important issue facing your ward and the city as a whole?

Affordable housing, many people are not making enough to keep up with the expenses. Like groceries and bills.

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Q.4 Looking down the road, what are your long-term goals for the city?

Making more food banks for the less unfortunate. Providing a centre for people who cannot afford essential needs.

Q.5 What is your platform?

The main pillars of my campaign are executing my biggest concerns. Which consists of, affordability/affordable housing, climate action, health care and so much more.  My campaign consists of many volunteers, including me spreading the word.

Q.6 What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I like to read, watch movies and listen to music. Apart from that I like to volunteer.

Q.7 What is your favourite thing about living in your city/ward?

My favourite thing about my city and ward is, the friendliness of the community. We are all in this together.

Ayo Owodunni

Q.1 Please give a brief background of yourself including what you do for a living and how long you have lived in the area? (If you are an incumbent, please state how long you have held the position.)

I have spent the last six years living in Kitchener with my wife, working, and raising our two children. I am a management consultant. I fell in love with the community and shortly after settling here, began to find ways to give back by getting involved with amazing organizations like Adventure for Change, Leadership Waterloo Region and my local church. Yet I am more aware than ever that our city is evolving rapidly, and the leadership needs to evolve to tackle urgent issues like road safety, cost of living, belonging, housing affordability, and climate change. I want to ensure that the issues Ward 5 residents care about the most are top-of-mind in municipal decision-making. This is our home, and I am running to help make sure our home is safe and welcoming for everyone.

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Q.2 Why do you believe you are the right person for the job? 

I bring several things to the table:

  1. My experience – I bring my business background to the table. Providing experience in several areas that could add great value in the community. I also sit on the board of a few startups. I can bring these experiences of strategic management, leadership, execution, budgeting, planning and much more to the table.
  2. My education – I have an MBET (Masters in Business Entrepreneurship and Technology) from the University of Waterloo.
  3. My exposure – Being an immigrant comes with its perks. I have seen other communities, explored other places. My exposure provides great perspective, in many ways, that can add great value to planning, and execution.
  4. My passion for service – I am passionate about serving my community and working with the people in the community.

Q.3 What do you think is the most important issue facing your ward and the city as a whole?

We are at a crossroads right now as a city. We are fast growing and though that is a blessing, it can also have its concerns as well.  Our infrastructure needs to be upgraded. We don’t have enough homes for our residents. Our prices are soaring. Inflation is at a 40-year high and climate change is affecting our world.  All these issues can place a burden on the city and the residents. We need strategic thinking, leadership that listens to the people and smart planning as we grow.

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Also, while going door to door, the issue of speeding on local roads was an issue for residents, especially parents with young kids. I have a six-year-old and a three-year-old and I know the fear in my heart when we are outside going for a walk or playing. We must find a way to tackle this, not just in school zones but also in our local streets.

Q.4 Looking down the road, what are your long-term goals for the city?

I was part of a team that met together to discuss a 20-year plan for Kitchener. It was great to engage in the room to discuss with people.  Here are some areas I’d love to focus on:

  1. Push for our transportation service to grow and be more frequent. If there are not frequent transport services, we will continue to lose our people to the car culture. We need more frequent train stops heading to Toronto.
  2. We need to tackle affordable housing as a region. We cannot afford some people getting rich while others are losing.
  3. How do we stay open for business as a city.
  4. What other needs to our students have? What gaps do we have in the education system that one of our local cities can tackle. (Perhaps a nursing school, a medical school)

Q.6 What do you like to do in your spare time?

Reading, watching movies with my kids, playing soccer with my son, finding new ways to play pranks on my wife.

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Q.7 What is your favourite thing about living in your city/ward?

The people. We are caring people in Kitchener. People care about one another. People are friendly. We are a loving community. Let’s keep it going!


Global News has also reached out to Ajmer Mandur and Naveed Najmuddin but has not received a response as of publication. This copy will be updated as further answers arrive.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.





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