Sandy Shantz isn’t typically one to draw distinctions based on gender in politics, and yet she is the first woman ever elected mayor of Woolwich Township.
“There’s a piece of it that feels kind of good to say, ‘they haven’t chosen a woman before,’ but I’d like to think that they’re just choosing the best person, whoever that may be,” Shantz said.
Two of every three voters agreed that Shantz is indeed the best person for the job.
“It’s a big responsibility, I think, to win by that margin. But also it tells me people trust me, and they trust me to be who I am and that gives me confidence too.”
In an emailed statement, township spokesperson Devin Petteplace wrote, “The electors of Woolwich have given mayor-elect Shantz an impressive mandate through their overwhelming support on election day.”
Shantz said her victory was in-part the work of a great campaign team, “I had a whole lot of people helping me and it was just terrific. It was a great experience and really inspiring to have so many people who wanted to help me.”
Shantz said her team included good friends, acquaintances and some people she had never met before.
Shantz and her husband Brian have lived in Elmira for the past 30 years where they raised three sons, Adam, Brad and Luke.
Shantz believes there are two main factors that can, “skew the statistics,” with regard to the fact there are fewer women than men in politics: the need for women role models and individual family planning choices.
“For me, for example, the timing had to be right. When my kids were younger, I wanted to spend time with them … so you put things on hold as a woman,” she said.
Shantz realizes she is a role model for women with political aspirations.
“My son’s girlfriend had said that to me and I hadn’t really thought about [being a role model]. Because I had done some things as the kids were younger, what I could manage … working in the community and also being there for the boys.”
Shantz served one term as township councillor from 2006 to 2010. She also served two terms as trustee for the Waterloo Region District School Board from 1997 to 2003.
Last year, Shantz was chair of the Woolwich Community Services capital fundraising campaign to build a new facility. The drive raised more than $1 million.
For the past three decades, Shantz also held numerous leadership roles in the Mennonite Church of Eastern Canada, the Mennonite Church of Canada and the St. Jacobs Mennonite Church.
The newly elected Woolwich township council will be sworn in on December 9th at the Elmira Lions Hall located at 40 South St West, Elmira.