Skip to content

Luck of the draw: In bizarre twist, Midland chooses new councillor

'I’m happy with the outcome, clearly, but I just wish it hadn’t come to a random draw,' says mayor after 'Jaz' Patel was selected to join town council
Shortly after being declared the newest Midland council member, Jaz Patel, right, shook the hand of former councillor Cody Oschefski, who had also applied for the vacant position.

Jasmin Patel is Midland’s newest town councillor, after a four-hour special meeting that saw his name drawn from a two-candidate fishbowl as the victor.

Patel, informally known as “Jaz,” triumphed over six other candidates vying for the position during the interview-based portions of the meeting.

“My job is to work as a team with the council members that are currently present, with the mayor, deputy mayor, and staff that we have for the town,” Patel said. “The staff we have are amazing. I want to continue to do the work that Midland has been doing for the past year-and-a-half.”

During the first portion of the council meeting, each candidate had a five-minute chance to explain why they felt they were the most important choice to be a member of council. The group of seven was whittled to the top three selections, with Cody Oschefski receiving the most votes, while a three-way tie occurred for the remaining two slots between Patel, Yvonne Tietz and Terry Condon.

Tietz was voted in next, as the merits of Patel and Condon were debated for half an hour to sway any of the eight council members to choose differently. Ultimately, Patel was chosen over Condon.

The next section of the meeting allowed eight questions to be asked of Patel, Oschefski and Tietz. The questions, selected by council from a larger range provided by templates from instances of other municipalities selecting council members, touched on the candidates’ views on the most important issues in town, how to achieve success for the remainder of the term, elements of municipal law, and how to communicate with residents.

Despite being allotted two minutes per answer, Patel’s responses were brief, usually a sentence or two. His focus as a business owner with two decades of experience was on strong display, as well his statements of what he could do for diversity, including the prominent South Asian community, in Midland’s demographic.

By comparison, Tietz's responses were centred around her involvement with communications on local social media. Oschefski, while well versed from experience as a former councillor, did not receive enough council support to progress to the final two candidates.

Council members cast their ballots to choose between Patel and Tietz, resulting in a tie, followed by another tie when none could be swayed. Their arguments ranged between Patel’s business-minded approach and his diversity as a councillor, to the familiarity some council members had toward Tietz as a knowledgeable voice in the community.

A fishbowl with the names for Patel and Tietz was provided, and the town clerk drew Patel’s name.

“When I first moved to Canada, I moved to Huntsville, and that really planted the roots of who I am. I’m very thankful for all the teachers that taught me English, because when I first came here, I didn’t know any English,” Patel told MidlandToday.

“The experience and knowledge I bring (is) mainly from the guests I’ve interacted with over the past 20 years — from the guy who works up the road holding a stop sign, all the way to a guy who owns a business that’s worth multi-millions of dollars.

“All those different people I’ve been meeting and talking with throughout my life have taught me that it’s not the financial position of the person; it’s the knowledge that a person brings which is the most important thing.”

Patel swore the oath of office as his supporters cheered, including some of the competition, while some other candidates and their supporters expressed vocal disapproval, slighted at the drawn result.

Mayor Bill Gordon had introduced Patel to running for the council vacancy, having been impressed by the ability of Patel to change his mind from opposition to support through deeper insight into the municipal accommodation tax issue faced by the local hospitality industry.

“I told him this was entirely up to him at the podium; he had to convince my peers. I think that was maybe the difference in the way I was approaching this from some of my peers. I wasn’t trying to let what I knew about them, personally, taint the process, because it had to be about what they said at the podium today, because that’s what we were judging them on,” Gordon said.

“There were people who came to the podium today who I didn’t know at all. If I used my personal outside-council knowledge, that would have unfairly biased the decision.

“I’m happy with the outcome, clearly, but I just wish it hadn’t come to a random draw.”


Verified reader

If you would like to apply to become a verified commenter, please fill out this form.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Derek Howard covers Midland and Penetanguishene area civic issues under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada.
Read more