Interviewed by Michael Scoular.
Since many students will be voting for the first time, what would you describe as the role of municipal politics? What can city councillors actually do?
Municipal government makes decisions about your local cities, about local issues. You can bring your ideas in front, the council can implement that, can listen. If you don’t raise your voice, the council don’t know anything about your issues. If you can bring your issues upfront, only the municipal government will do those changes at a city level, not the provincial. So the municipal government is very important for the local issues.
Who do you view as your constituents?
I’m running for the district of Mission — the whole district.
How will you receive the views of the entire population instead of just those most active around City Hall?
From my own experience, I use the transit system, so I can almost go around the whole of Mission and I can figure out where the needs and changes are to make our town universal accessible. At one time, I took the current mayor on a tour and showed him the city, where we need to be making changes. I have my own experience, so I can see where the changes need to be done.
Are you doing anything to address the lack of student interest in local politics?
I just want to be connected to the local young kids. My kids are 18 and 21, so they have lots of friends, so I’m talking at them, what they’re looking for. I’ll be connected. I want to listen. Then, if there’s a good idea they can bring it up, and then the council will implement those ideas. But the main thing is we have to make a good relationship, encourage them, so they can come forward and talk and share their ideas.
Why did you choose to run on a slate, and what do you think this means for the organization of municipal politics?
Because the promise they made in the last election, they kept those promises. If you compare the previous council, they increased the tax too much, but CRMG kept the taxes low, they didn’t increase the tax. Zero tax [increase] in 2014 only 1.49 per cent tax [increase] in 2013. And they paid [part of] the $12 million debt and they saved $6 million interest they would have to pay in the next 10 years. So they used the tax payers’ money very wisely, and that’s why I figured out they’re doing good for the community.
And they spent a lot on the infrastructure to keep the sewer system, water system, roads in good condition. And the big demand for so many years about the downtown, so CRMG is working to revitalize the downtown. They did good work in the last three years, and they needed more time. In three years you can’t do much, right?
If elected, how would what you want to do as councillor be different from what council is already doing?
I want to make a bridge between problems and solutions in a diverse community. Life gave me an opportunity to see life from a different angle, might be like an able-bodied person can’t see those things, but I can, the experience, right? So that’s my priority besides all the other goals, to make our town to be universal accessible. In the beginning, as an example, I started to use the leisure centre. In family change rooms, they don’t have a push-door button. I saw lots of single moms with strollers, like they [have to] hold the door with the elbow and push the strollers — so it’s not the issues of people in wheelchairs, there’s lots of things that I can see and experience and make change. As part of the team, I will tell them more about what they don’t see.
Do you have a specific project you want to prioritize or bylaw you want to change?
The current CRMG team is working to be building, they bought an old building in the downtown, planned to be making a facility for the senior citizens. And the building right now we have, the old fire hall — so once the city builds the senior citizens’ facility, then we can use the old fire hall for all kinds of youth activities. That’s what I have vision for, to use that building for the youths, multi-purpose.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.