Interviewed by Aaron Levy.
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?
I think as far as students are concerned, transportation is one important issue, and other facilities, the rec centre, whatever students need, I would like to provide some assistance, whatever students need. Because it’s municipal politics, it’s not the board of education, who is mainly responsible to students, but the council can meet the school board, and also, the transit committee actually has a rep from the university, so if the students need any help, I think the council through their committee can try to solve some of the problems the students are facing.
Who do you view as your constituents?
My constituents are everybody, youngsters to seniors.
How will you receive the views of the entire population instead of just those most active around City Hall?
This is the responsibility of the council, to see what are the needs of the constituents. Not what the activists want. Activists want certain things done, and maybe you can look at it, but the council’s responsibility is to make sure that all kinds of services, public safety, policing, the whole community is protected.
Are you doing anything to address the lack of student interest in local politics?
I haven’t personally done anything, but we always ask when I see some youngsters, please use your right to elect because the turnout usually is pretty low, 20 per cent, whatever the number, 20, 25 per cent, they elect the council, and it’s not really representative of the constituents, it needs to go up to 50 per cent.
If elected, how would what you want to do as councillor be different from what council is already doing?
Very different. The council now, they haven’t done any projects. Mission is a very small community, not maybe like Abbotsford or Chilliwack, so you need to improve your tax base. How do you improve your tax base? You need to attract, we have quite a few businesses in Mission, but we need to attract industry, or look for other sources of revenue so that the tax burden on the residential people is lowered. That’s what I will do. The current council, actually, has cut a lot of services, they have cut fire department services, and Mission, actually, is approved for 52 police officers, but we have only 47, a shortage of five police officers, so public safety is at risk. That’s what’s happening with the current council, so I will work towards restoring some of the services so that the citizens of Mission are safe.
Do you have a specific project you want to prioritize or bylaw you want to change?
Not any particular bylaw, what I think I’d like to work towards is we have a problem with a lot of homeless people, and when I was on council [from 2005-11], we had approved one project for housing some of the people, but we still have the problem, a drug problem, so we need to do something so that we can help those people. We need several agencies, you need police, you need community services, Fraser Health, and the council, they should all get together and try to do something to solve this problem.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.