Democracy is exciting and messy. In a place like Mississauga, it can be both and the upcoming election is a classic example as more than 160 people are contesting mayor, councillor and trustee seats.

The pressure and odds have enticed a few to withdraw, including six would-be councillors. Ward 2, 10 and 11 mustered only three candidates each but others like Ward 7 is shaping up to be a wild race to replace current Councillor Nando Iannicca, who is not seeking re-election. With 12 contestants vying for the seat, it is the most hotly contested of all Mississauga’s 11 wards.

While many have simply chosen to throw up a Facebook page, repeat the ‘give-back-to-the-community’ mantra as reason why they run and you should vote for them, some have thought a little deeper, presenting full platforms, built websites and teams and been out knocking on doors for months as well as being avid observers and participants in the community building process.

One of the leading candidates in the area is former MPP Dipika Demerla. Serving as the past-Liberal government’s seniors affairs minister for the last two years, Demerla is looking to continue public service closer to home. She is drawing attention to her track record that includes work on developing health care by pushing for 350 new beds at the hospital and work with specialized groups like Rise, which issues low-interest, small-business loans, training and mentorship to people who are challenged by mental health and other life challenges.

With connections made over the years in the community and corporate world, she is presenting herself as the voice of experience and reason, but also someone with a personal interest in the job.

“Over the next few years, our city and our ward, in particular, will continue to see significant growth,” said Demerla. “How we manage this growth is at the heart of whether Mississauga can enjoy the many benefits of growth – walkable streets, better transit, more affordable housing options and a thriving business and culture scene – without sacrificing the qualities that have made our city such a desirable place to live in the first place. How we manage this growth will determine whether residents have a say in how this city grows, or are they an afterthought?”

Claiming experience in the civic realm or business is a common refrain for others competing with Demerla, including Cooksville-Munden Park Homeowners Association president Andrew Gassmann, investment regulatory risk management professional Marco Camaioni and humanitarian worker Sam Jisiri, all contending for your vote.

The sheer number of people running in these elections prevent sufficient analysis in this space, but a full contact list of candidates and whatever contact information they chose to provide, such as social profiles, emails and websites are available at mississaugavotes.ca. Do the research and register to vote. It’s time to have your say in the election that affects you closest to home.

Photo: Dipika Demerla is one of the most recognizable candidates running in the crowded Ward 7 election race.