Neophyte Rowena Santos wins a seat in Brampton City Council along with Lisa Abarquez Bower for the town of Ajax. (The Philippine Reporter)

 Ontario

Two Pinays make it to City Council

By Ysh Cabana

The Philippine Reporter

Community News & Features Oct 26, 2018 at 4:38 PM

TORONTO–Political newcomers have been elected councillors in Brampton and Ajax, becoming the first Filipinas to win an elective post in the Greater Toronto Area in recent history.

An administrator and personal insurance advisorent for 25 years, Lisa Abarquez Bower is chosen as the Ward 3 local councillor in the Town of Ajax, a sprawling suburb east of Toronto, where the election was mainly fought over development issues.

“We’ve worked really, really hard. I’m happy with the results,” said Bower after gaining a significant lead over longtime councillor Pat Brown’s bid for re-election.

Finishing with 4,380 votes, Bower cheered on the people who “were ready for a change. I’m so excited, so grateful. My goal was to win and be the best Ward 3 local councillor.”

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Lisa Abarquez Bower

This 2018 municipal elections Ajax changed from a four-ward system to a three-ward system, where one local and one regional councillor were elected in each ward in order to add a seat on the Durham Regional Council.

Rowena Santos

Born and raised in the northwestern suburb of Toronto, Rowena Santos is the first Filipina to win a seat on Brampton’s city council and will be representing residents of wards 1 and 5.

Santos was up against 10 others for the city council seat.

Prior to electoral politics, she worked in the corporate word, including systems management, finance, and brand management. In the 2006 municipal elections, she campaigned for a seat in the Toronto city council for Parkdale-High Park but lost.

Santos attributed her win this time to her over 12 years of political experience and the diversity of volunteers in her run-up to the elections. “Everything we have done has been about the grass roots of our community, from youth to seniors and every background,” Santos said.

Santos ran on a platform for more transit, creating jobs and more opportunities for young people. Wards 1 and 5 encompass half of Brampton’s downtown core — from Queen Street in the south as far north as Bovaird Drive. This area includes the GO station and the proposed satellite campus for Ryerson University.

After the dust settled in the October 22 election, change is in the air including Pinays in different municipalities. Residents will have to wait until council sits again in December to get a real sense how they keep up to their campaign promises.

Bower and Santos will serve four years in office until 2022.