With no incumbent leading in the polls, the race for mayor of Oshawa is wide open.

Former Oshawa Mayor John Henry defeated a sitting incumbent in the 2010 election and successfully ran for re-election in 2014. Henry decided to leave city hall to try his hand at regional politics, vying for the position of Durham Regional Chair. This has left the seat of mayor open for a newcomer.

Former regional and city councillor Dan Carter told CTV News Toronto that his challenging past is the reason why he feels so passionate about politics. Carter has battled alcohol and drug addiction and homelessness, dealt with mental health issues, survived a childhood sexual assault and was illiterate until his early 30s.

“The challenges that we are facing at this particular time are also kind of suited to some of the journeys I’ve gone through in my life,” he said. “I really believe that at this particular moment through the four years of mentoring and working as a regional and city representative, I think it’s really prepared me to be able to serve at this level.”

Carter told CTV News Toronto that the biggest issue facing residents in Oshawa is affordability.

“How do we deliver great services? How do we decrease the burden that we put on them through taxation, and how do we make sure that we deliver the type of services that make us a healthy vibrant community?”

“I’ve always said that I have socialist heart, a conservative head, and a lot of liberal friends - and that’s how I approach it.”

Joe Ingino, the publisher and editor of local newspaper “The Central” in Oshawa, ran for mayor in the last election. Ingino said that his position as editor has allowed him to really get to know the community.

“In this particular race it’s the institution versus the people. Now the people will have to make a decision whether they want the status quo and their taxes continue to increase or do they want to change Oshawa,” he said.

Sara Lear has a background as a strategy consultant and project manager. She said that the biggest issue facing Oshawa voters is “complacency.”

“It’s a single issue. I’ve knocked on over 6,000 doors. And most people open the door see me and start closing the door saying ‘I don’t vote’,” she said. “ People want things to change, but they have to make those changes with their vote.”

Lear wants to bring more collaboration to city hall.

“I firmly believe that your role as mayor is not to have all the right ideas or the right answers, but to ask the right questions and the tough questions,” Lear said.

There are seven people running to be mayor in Oshawa. Voters go to the polls on Monday.

-With files from CTV News Toronto's Scott Lightfoot