As part of our Candidate Q & A series, we interviewed Tanya Park, who is currently running for London City Councillor in ward 13.
Q: What is your vision for the ward you aim to represent?
A: My vision for Ward 13 is a vibrant, safe, livable community, where all Londoner’s want to live, work and play!
Firstly, in order for people to work downtown, we need more jobs, and for that to happen we need a council that affords better support to local businesses. It is clear that city council cannot create jobs, but it certainly can create an environment that is conducive to job creation.
Despite the fact that the recession has “ended” our local economy is still suffering with a frighteningly high unemployment rate. The major lesson that our local businesses can take away from the recession is that they need to adapt to the market, and not the other way around. This is a great opportunity of the London Economic Development Corporation to step in and help our local businesses adapt their business models so they can survive market fluctuations.
Q: If elected, what are your top three priorities for the City of London?
A: My top three priorities are:
Q: Once in office, how do you plan to remain engaged with the community?
A: Engaging with my community is of critical importance to me on a personal level. Everywhere I go I am always talking with and learning from the people I meet.
If elected, I will continue my Saturday morning coffee dates at Edgar + Joes, will send out electronic news letters quarterly, and will have an open door policy in my office at city hall.
Q: What sets you apart from other candidates?
A: I seek to understand issues on a deep level, as opposed to understanding issues superficially.
I live in Ward 13, and am connected to the neighbouring communities within.
I am not a business owner, and I am not running to further my personal interests. I am running for council to improve our community.
I have an inherent skill for bringing various groups together, working collaboratively toward a common goal, and achieving results.
300 South St
Have YOU ever been to a council meeting? Well I hadn’t been either until May 6. That’s when I came out to Women and Politics first ‘Council, Coffee & Cushions’ event. Over the course of the evening, as I sat and watched council debate issues that included London’s food trucks, I observed a few things. Here’s what I learned.
I’d like to give a huge thank you to Women and Politics. Knowing I could meet up at a familiar location first, and then head over together as a group was terrific. Immediately upon arriving at Williams, it was obvious that there were some seasoned veteran attendees amongst us, as well as newbies like myself. Phew! Someone knows where to go and when we should get there.
Honestly, if you are thinking about voting for someone who already sits on council you should really go and see how they handle themselves in person.
Some councilors joked around to the side, at one point flipping a coin while another councilor spoke. Another discussed concerns they had about the food truck by-law, and then proceeded to not pay attention to anything said thereafter. And, more than once questions were asked that seemed fairly basic that should have been dealt with earlier.
On the other hand, there were councillors who conducted themselves professionally, took notes of what was being said and when it was their time to speak got to their points quickly and effectively.
Reporters need to boil down hours of activity into 400 words or less. If you’re like me you’ll be curious to see what they felt were the key points and quotes as compared to your own perceptions of what happened. You will also have a lot more insight into how the decision made was arrived at – and in what style.
To reach the viewing area, go to the third floor and then follow the signs. Several in the group felt that a sign on the main floor, at the front entrance, in plain view indicating where to go would be helpful. There are signs on the third floor but they do blend into the brick so keep a careful eye out for them. (There is a ladies bathroom around the corner. The label for it is on the door handle.)
The councillors sit in a horseshoe configuration across from the viewing balcony. The Mayor along with the Clerk and Deputy Clerk sit in the middle of this semi-circle.
City staff sit in two rows facing the horseshoe and are called upon to provide further information as needed.
All of the councillors and city staff have computers at hand, as well as microphones. When someone speaks they generally stand and only the microphone at their location is on. Votes were submitted electronically from each councilor’s computer with the City Clerk announcing the results.
On the wall behind the councillors are two large screens which display the motions that are being considered, as well as voting results.
Last but not least, at the back of the room, directly below the viewing area is where the media are.
There is a gentleman in a crisp military like uniform – the Sergeant in Arms – who will ask you to rise as the mayor enters. He will then place a ceremonial Chain of Office around the Mayor’s neck. Finishing up he will move a silver mace onto an upper ‘shelf’ in front of the Mayor to indicate council is now in session. At that point you may take your seat again.
Be prepared for lots of suits and ties amongst council and staff adding to the formal tone of the meeting.
Speeches and discussion can take longer than expected and in-camera sessions (portions of council held in private allowing for confidential discussions with legal counsel) can become necessary. Then there was the dinner break, which of course ran long.
Get ready for a long meeting, with possible down times. Bring water, some snacks, a good book or a cell phone. Be brave and say “hi” to the person next to you and start a conversation.
Absolutely. I don’t know why I felt so hesitant about attending a council meeting – but I did. Now I feel comfortable that I know where to go and have some expectations on what will happen when I get there.
Women and Politics plans to host council trips again in the future. Please stay tuned to our events calendar for more information.