Political Director Patrick Merlihan

Political Director

Patrick Merlihan

How long have you been on the Board and what position do you currently hold?
I have been on the board two years.

What municipality or organization do you represent?
Township of Woolwich

What is your educational and professional background?
I founded and own a community newspaper located in Elmira, Ontario since 1996. For the past twenty years I am the newspaper Print / Web Manager. I got my start in newspapers volunteering at University of Waterloo’s student newspaper Imprint. I Just finished a two-year commitment as a Director-at-Large on the Imprint’s board of directors in April of 2017.

The OMWA is a not-for-profit organization and all Board positions, including yours, are all volunteer, what inspired you to become an OMWA board member?
My inspiration to become a board member with the OMWA is mainly curiosity. My hometown has an unfortunate legacy of a poisoned aquifer from the local chemical plant some thirty years ago. The clean-up efforts have been complicated and divisive. Water is a resource that as residents we take for granted, until it becomes compromised and wells are shut down. Water is very much at the forefront of my community’s effort to clean the aquifer. Learning more and being active in advocating for better protections is a cause I’m happy to give my time to.

 What do you hope to see in the future for OMWA?
I’d like to be part of an organization that is prepared to be a leader in the on-going discussion surrounding water quality in Ontario. As a politician, I’d like to see an increased effort to inform local governments directly at the municipal level. It’s important to have continuous awareness of the ongoing issues and policies that affect water quality and delivery to Ontario residents.

What’s your hometown?
Hometown is Elmira.

What brought you to Ontario?
Always lived in Ontario.

What was your first job?
Starting at 13 janitor, dishwasher, line cook, grocery clerk. Professional career was my current profession as a self-employed Print/Web Manager at The Observer (Community newspaper serving Woolwich and Wellesley Township).

What challenges have you had to overcome in your career?
Massive challenge in starting your own business. Layered on top of plenty of direct competition and lots of small town politics. I started the business at 22 basically learning on the job. My training as a volunteer at a student newspaper doesn’t quite prepare you as much as a lot of hard work and working through success and failure.

What are some of your hobbies or how do you spend your free time?
Hobbies: I have been playing men’s league basketball in Kitchener for the past 7 years. I enjoy live music , plays, reading, photography and producing websites. I do a fair bit of shuttling my children to different events if that is a hobby.

What was your most prized toy as a child, and why?
My most prized possession as a child was my bicycle. It gave me independence and freedom to travel. Growing up in a small town with not much to do was tough – long all-day bike rides to neighbouring cities with a backpack of snacks was the greatest.

If you could have a t-shirt printed with a message, what would it be?
Everyone tells me to follow my dreams, so I’m going back to bed.

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