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?
The role of a city councillor is a big one, and I’ve just come from an all-candidates meeting on Tuesday where the expectations of council is big from the community, and we can’t be all things to all people as a city council, but we can be good listeners and listen to the people and collaborate with other agencies, other partners, to see how we can move forward. And the biggest thing is to be fiscally responsible with our taxpayers’ dollars.
Who do you view as your constituents?
My constituents are anyone that’s able to vote, eighteen up.
How will you receive the views of the entire population instead of just those most active around City Hall?
Well we have an excellent platform in Mission, called the Mission Hot Seat, so if anyone’s not tuned into that they should be, because Mr. Horn poses a question to the candidates every day and it’s far better than an all-candidates meeting. So I hope people are tuning in to that and seeing what people have to say, because it’s a good way to get to know your candidates.
This is happening because it’s an election campaign — how would you, if elected, go about hearing the public in your day-to-day work?
I’m a great one for having little task forces to involve the community, because I believe we need to listen to what the community has to say. I really feel it’s important to reach out to the younger generations, because they’re going to be shaping Mission going forward; not my generation, it’s going to be the younger generation, 18 and up, who are going to shape the future of Mission, so I want to hear from them. How do we do that? Do we have little internet cafés? Do we have opportunities through out leadership at the high schools to reach out to the younger generation? So that’s what I would like to do across the generations.
Are you doing anything to address the lack of student interest in local politics?
You know I’m out there talking to people, I’m taking every opportunity I can to reach out, whether it’s going to the West Coast Express in the morning, or going to any events that are available. I was at an event last week, it was “Pulling Together,” I think, and it was led by students, and it was an amazing day where students were giving workshops and I wish there’d been more people attending, but it’s those types of things.
If elected, how would what you want to do as councillor be different from what council is already doing?
I think what’s lacking a little bit is the connection to the community. I’m not here to say anything really against our current council — I don’t run that type of campaign, but I do feel like we could be better connected to the community, which means reaching out to the different non-profit groups, the school system — I know council and the school board needs to be more connected. I’m just coming off nine years as a school trustee, so we need to keep those connections, and we need to foster them.
Do you have a specific project you want to prioritize or bylaw you want to change?
I’ve got a lot to learn — I’m not going to say I know all the issues, and I don’t. But I’m really interested in the revitalization of downtown. What that’s going to look like, I’m not sure because that’s targeting the downtown core when we’ve [also] got the greater good of Mission, and I’m not sure yet. My priorities would be fiscal responsibility, public safety, I think that’s important for people to feel like they can walk around our town and feel safe, whatever time of day that is. And we need to bring back some trust and rebuild — there is a morale problem at city hall. That needs to be addressed, I think one of the first things: gain the trust of the employees, because we’re not going to rebuild if we don’t have the trust.
You mentioned public safety. What would that entail in terms of communication with the police department?
Public safety has many layers to it, and I think it would be good to have a presence downtown with our local RCMP, at the local community police building. Just have some more presence downtown. And homelessness is a big problem, and council can’t solve it on their own. But we can be an advocate and a partner with Fraser Health and other agencies who all want to help these people.