On October 27 we go to the polls to elect a new Municipal government. Here is your chance before voting to meet your Ward candidates and hear their views on a variety of topics of concern to everyone. Co-sponsored by the Urban League
As part of our Candidate Q & A series, we interviewed Sheryl Rooth, who is currently running for London City Councillor in ward 4.
Q: What most influenced your decision to run?
A: In a word… frustration. This wasn’t a decision that came to me overnight. It’s been a few years in the making, with significant consultation with my family and friends as well as city and community leaders.
I’ve watched the direction our city council has chosen and it’s not a forward one. Our council has become stuck in a quagmire of political infighting and agendas and have forgotten about what we really need – progress.
What sealed my decision was actually my daughter’s decision. When applying for university, Western wasn’t even on her radar. What was her reason? She didn’t see a future here. She didn’t see a future in London. Having a city with world class educational facilities is fantastic, but what happens after she graduates? She chose Toronto because she knew that opportunity would be just a few steps away from her campus. And she wasn’t alone. At her commencement, I listened to several of her graduating class heading away from the city, likely to never return. At least not right now. Not until we start creating serious opportunities for business development, big and small.
The choice is ours. IT, medicine, urban agriculture, energy tech, the opportunities are out there. It’s time to bring them here. I’ve never been one to sit on my hands. You can spend every day complaining about how things are. Or you can put yourself out there, work with your community and concentrate your efforts into making positive outcomes.
Q: What sets you apart from other candidates?
A: I am a true blue East End girl and proud of it. My father Bud worked at McCormick’s for over 40 years. I still recall the smell of candy wafting over my neighbourhood when I lived on McCormick Blvd. I met my husband John when I worked as a bartender at Mash McCann’s, now the lovely location of True Taco. Our first apartment was on Dundas Street near Ashland. And we bought a house on Wethered Street in Carling Heights, where we’ve raised our two children.
I know this area because I am a lifelong part of this area. I’ve watched its failures but I’ve also watched and been a proud part of its rejuvenation. From the PMQ sales in Carling Heights that allowed young families to buy affordable homes, to the OEV finding its feet again, we are resilient and resourceful and we rise above the stigma put upon us by our own city councillor and others in the city.
As chair of the Sir John A Macdonald PTO, I have firsthand experience in how many of our families in Ward 4 struggle with poverty. I have put shoes on feet, food in bellies, clothes on backs and books in hands every single day for over 10 years. But I didn’t do it alone. You can’t do something like that alone. I was the chair of a small, yet incredible group of parents and administrators and teachers who believed in the power of “go for it”.
Now, being on the Board of Directors for the Agape Foundation, I have the distinct pleasure of being able to tell other grassroots organizations and charities to “go for it” with grants to help sustain their programming. And that is exactly the message I want to take to city hall. Let’s go for it!
Q: What do you think is the most urgent issue the City is facing?
A: I believe we have many urgent issues; however the one that keeps my eye on the ball is our infrastructure. Frankly, it’s an issue that does keep me awake at night. Currently, we’re running at a deficit of $52.1 million, with 7% of our assets (which could include bridges, roadways, sewer systems, etc) in poor condition. As a homeowner, I see how long it takes for projects to be completed. For example, there’s a pothole on Landor Street that has grown in size over many years and now has had a large traffic barrel sitting on it for almost seven months. In the next 8 years, with our current investment plans, we could be looking at a deficit of $466.1 million. This is a staggering figure.
How did we get here? There are many reasons but keeping us at a 0% tax increase was a factor. Under-cutting our development charges is another. More urban sprawl instead of infill and the list goes on. The fact is we have some hard decisions to make, even with the current gas tax supplement hike. Do we want crumbling roads that will be addressed maybe 10 or 20 years from now? Or do we find practical solutions that keep more of our assets from running into the poor condition.
Q: What is your vision for London?
A: After reading The London Plan, I realized that there is vision for our city. What’s especially important to remember is that it is a vision from the citizens to the city. I believe in progress. I believe in possibilities. And I believe we can achieve many of the goals set out in that plan.
My vision is of prosperity. And we do that by investing in our city and in our people. I am a strong proponent of affordable housing , where people earning less than $45 000 a year can afford home ownership. It improves neighbourhoods and brings tax dollars back to the city practically and consistently. It is an excellent opportunity for infill and would encourage our Western and Fanshawe graduates to stay and settle in.
I will fight for safer streets for all, which would include improving our traffic calming measures, changing our pedestrian crossing systems by giving three second walking advances at major intersections, upgrading our crossing guard policies, and implementing safer cycling strategies.
And you can’t have a vision for the future without a sound and stable economy. City council can’t necessarily create jobs but they can make an environment that is ripe for business development. We have the resources and we have the workforce. What are we missing? Strong decision making, reasonable timelines and expectations.
Q: What is your vision for the ward you aim to represent?
A: Ward 4 is one of the most unique, culturally and heritage rich areas in this city. I want to see more focus on preserving all of those things, because that in turn benefits the whole of London. Our prosperity as a ward is important but so is the image we represent.
As I do now, I will be a tireless advocate for my ward. First and foremost, this is my home. I chose to live here and raise a family here. My vision includes attention to every area of the ward and its prosperity. My vision includes mixed income housing, reliable public transportation, sound retail opportunities, accountable landlords, less social service dumping, practical street safety measures, small business support and a consistent voice at City Hall to put forward what we need and working with the team of staff and council members to get it. My vision for Ward 4 is to not be just known as “the east end” but as the best place in London to live, work and play.
23 Wethered Street
London, ON N5Y1G8