Election night for the region, while not a great argument for online voting, was great for women in politics in many ways.
Overall, the women held nearly 50 per cent of all elected positions in Waterloo Region. 40 women were elected versus the 41 men elected. However, a closer look at the numbers shows a more complex story.
Samatha Estoesta was one of the candidates who ran for a spot as a public school board trustee and told Kitchener Today with Brian Bourke Show on 570 NEWS that overall she was quite happy with the strides women had made in this municipal election.
"Starting to get towards this parity. We're finally validating that a lot of the more traditional aspects, you know aren't applying to the lives we're living anymore," she says.
She says bringing in women into politics was important to breaking down stereotypes and "this idea that women may be didn't have to be at the political table or they didn't have the experience to be there."
However, she wanted to acknowledge some hard truths. A closer look at the the various positions shows a slightly different picture. While chairs and mayors had an equal amount of women and men, taking a look at Regional Council shows an unbalance. Six women to ten men. Local councils as well had 22 women compared to twenty-eight men. Most of the numbers are made up by the amount of women on the school boards; fifteen women to seven men. The numbers also showed a lack of representation by people of colour.
"Out of all the people that were elected, two per cent of them were people of colour and 98 per cent of them were white people," she said, emphasizing that the numbers shouldn't take away from the hard work by women on the campaign trial. However she does want to highlight the difficulties face by minorities in politics. Estoesta cite the treatment of Regional Council candidate, Fazia Mazhar, while campaigning.
"When you look at how Fazia experienced extensive amounts of Islamophobia and racism on the campaign trail," she says. Estoesta herself felt thankful that she saw very little racism while campaigning.
"What I did find was a lot more people unwilling to vote for some one whose pregnant," she says.
"It's the people that think it and bring that thought to the voting process or maybe when they're talking to their friends and family about who they're voting for. They might say, "Well I don't have a good feeling about that candidate"," she says, "There's a lot of that polite racism and polite Islamophobia that we also have."
Post election, Estoesta started a Facebook group called "PoliticsWR" which stands for "Politics While Racialized" or alternatively "Politics Waterloo Region". They aimed to help support potential and underrepresented racialized people in the region. You can find the group here.