A Seat at the Table

A Seat at the Table

i Oct 29th No Comments by

Monday night we elected a new council for the City of London but it is important to remember you can help shape the way this City is operated by participating and sitting on a committee or advisory board.  The Deadline to apply for Boards, Commissions and Special Committees is November 7th and Advisory Committees is November 13th, if you are interested in being a part of making this City great and learning more about the political processes this is a great place to start.  You can find information on the various committees here. We sat down with Nadine Reeves to find out a bit more about her experience on an advisory committee.

nadine lhac post

Which Committee are you on?

I am a voting member of the London Housing Advisory Committee.

How did you hear about the opportunity?

I heard about the application process through my connections on the Homeless Coalition and the Child & Youth Network.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I’ll be honest, I get a kick out of giving my time.  I had been looking for another way to contribute my skills and experience, and I feel strongly that everyone in our community deserves affordable, safe housing, so the Housing Advisory Committee seemed like a natural fit.  I also wanted to learn more about municipal affairs.

How much of your time did you have to commit?

Each month I spend about an hour reviewing the meeting package, and the meetings last on average two hours.  We’re talking a commitment of  three hours a month.

What has been the most rewarding?

Making connections with like-minded people.  Also one afternoon during the ReThink London process, the Committee went to the Ark Aid Mission for their coffee time to ask the men and women who were there how they visioned a London in which they wanted to live.  It wasn’t surprising that they had a similar vision as me.  They also want an inclusive and caring community that is safe.   It was one of my favourite-est days ever.

Have there been any challenges?

There was a huge learning curve, but knowledge is power!  I swear the first half dozen meetings were in some alien language.  Learning the lingo took some time.

What impact has your involvement had on your family?

In terms of time spent away from my family, it’s been minimal.  Meetings are held on weekdays over lunch, and both of my children are in school.  In terms of spin-off, shortly after I started on the LHAC, I found some info about the Children’s Museum’s Tween Council which is a group of young volunteers that also acts as an advisory panel.  My youngest daughter who was 9 at the time was eager to join a Committee – just like her mum, and she still loves her monthly meeting and volunteer gigs.  I love that there is an opportunity out there for her to use her voice and experience, and that she, too, is expanding her network (she calls them friends!) and doing her civic duty as a community member.

Anything else you would like to add?

At the beginning, I was really intimidated just walking into City Hall, but now I enjoy strutting through the halls like I totally belong there.

I also enjoy the presentations from City of London staff and community partners.  I’ve learned about safety inspections, hoarding, secondary dwelling units, licensing, tenant/landlord rights, and so much more.

And the City of London staff are pretty much super heroes.  I really respect the work that they do and their commitment to serve the community.  I don’t think they ever get enough credit.

BIO:   Nadine Reeves sits on the London Housing Advisory Committee.  Through her work at Childreach, she is actively involved in the Ending Poverty priority area of the City’s Child & Youth Network.   She also volunteers her time and talent to a new community initiative called Circles – a Bridges out of Poverty program.  The rest of her time is spent raising caring kids and knitting.   You can find her on twitter as @corazenia and on her blog http://corazenia.wordpress.com .

Q&A with Cynthia Etheridge, Ward 6 Candidate

i Oct 23rd No Comments by

As part of our Candidate Q & A series, we interviewed Cynthia Etheridge, who is currently running for London City Councillor in ward 6.

Q: Would you share how you have participated in your community?
A: I have participated in our community in a few different ways. For five years I had over 60 seniors that I would shop and deliver groceries to after they had been released from the hospital. My children and I participated for one year in a program where we would get together with some homeless people and working poor and those on Ontario Works once a week in the basement kitchen of a church. We would prepare a meal together and eat together and do the clean up together and play games together. I also opened my home to people who had fallen on difficult times and needed a place to live until they could get back on their feet. I enjoy helping people and seeing them succeed, but I also enjoy teaching my children what real love and kindness is.

Q: How long, and in what capacity, have you been involved in politics at the municipal level within London? In your ward?
A: My interest in politics was sparked when I was only 19 years old and I was planning for the birth of my first child. I was thinking ahead for her education and I had hopes of becoming a school board trustee. I was told by a man that it wasn’t my place. It was years later when the political bug bit me again and I worked on other candidate’s campaigns. What I saw in some campaigns strengthened my resolve to get involved and try to fix what they were breaking. I worked behind the scenes for a city Councillor and knew that I could do a better job serving the people. I am not here to be popular, I am here to make things right.

Q: In your opinion, what do you feel are essential qualities of a good leader?
A: Something I believe is essential for good leaders is someone who listens and watches and realizes that all eyes are on them, so they better be a good example to the masses. When you genuinely care and you are decisive in actions people follow.

Q: What is your vision for London?
A: That we get tough as people and not just put up and shut up about the antics of Governments gone awry. We must keep our politicians feet to the fire and make them work for the People. We will overcome tough times and grow up and be strong together. We have a lot to fix but we have a London Plan and we need more People to join the collective in implementing the plan. Steady as she goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day but if we fail to plan, we plan to fail.

Q: What is your vision for the ward you aim to represent?
A: My vision for my Ward is to minimize strife, to narrow the divide between young and old, to help people remember or realize for the first time what a neighbourhood used to look like and how we can turn things around. We need to work on transit improvements. It would be nice to eliminate the absentee landlord woes.

Q: While compromise is important, are there any issues that you would not compromise on?”
A: Never compromise your good name. If my dad kept a good name and handed it down to me it is mandatory that I don’t compromise my values. Ethics and integrity and love for others.

Q: Once in office, how do you plan to remain engaged with the community?
A: I have been handing out my business card which takes up no room in a purse or wallet and my phone number is on it. It is working already. I am sending this questionnaire in late but I have never lost contact with my people in my ward. They know where to find me and they always come to me with concerns. I have been working as a councillor already for years.

Q: What changes would you like to see made to the 2014 budget? Why?
A: I would like to retire our debt and live as a debt free city because it is the smart thing to do.

Q: If elected, what are your top three priorities for the City of London?
A: Reduce stress, have peace, experience security for all the people of London.

Q: What do you think is the most urgent issue the city is facing?
A: People lack hope in the future. Without job security people worry about where their next meal comes from. Our city has been stagnant for so long. It is urgent that everyone makes the right decision about who they choose in this 2014 municipal election.

Q&A with Doreen Gysbers, Ward 9 Candidate

i Oct 23rd No Comments by

My name is Doreen Gysbers, and I am a running for the position of councillor in Ward 9.

S51330TB200570_item_0I am a citizen of Lambeth and I am a teacher. I have a political science degree from the University of Waterloo and a Bachelor of Education degree from Althouse College at Western.

I began my political career as a first-year representative on student council and finished university as a student council president of the Arts Faculty. I later served as a municipal councillor for four terms in Middlesex County.

I have been observing London municipal politics for some time, especially the last term where I was dismayed to see block voting by councillors, secret meetings and a mayor who was convicted of fraud. I decided to run for council in my ward.

I believe that the role of a councillor is to be the voice of the citizens in their ward. In addition to being a part of committees, a councillor should also be prepared to be a voice and make wise decisions at council meetings, attend functions in the ward and reply to citizen inquiries and concerns.

I believe that I am a good fit for ward 9, which has a mixture of rural, established communities like Lambeth and Byron, and rapid growth with new subdivisions; not unlike the municipality I previously served.

I am independently running my own campaign and do not take contributions, so that I will be able to freely make important decisions for my ward.

I am not afraid to make tough decisions, after reviewing all information presented to me at council meetings, and feel that female representation is important because we may offer a different perspective on an issue.

Q&A with Maureen Cassidy, Ward 5 Candidate

i Oct 23rd No Comments by

As part of our Candidate Q & A series, we interviewed Maureen Cassidy, who is currently running for London City Councillor in ward 5.

maureen cassidyI am a 48 year old married mother of three; a Ward 5 resident; a UWO graduate; a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient; a breast cancer survivor; a blogger and a regular columnist for the North London Beacon, a community paper. I’ve been representing my community, Old Stoneybrook for several years both as President of our community association and as a member of the Masonville Community Council, a community-based group promoting thoughtful discussion on various issues important to the communities within the Masonville zone.

Upon graduation, I traveled extensively, working in a variety of positions in diverse locales before settling down and marrying Scott, my husband of 20 years. Before the birth of my third child, I was, for eleven years, a loyal member of the sales team at a major Canadian health benefits company.

Q: Would you share how you have participated in your community?
A: I spearheaded a grass roots movement to fight a proposed development in our neighbourhood. Together, with my community group, I helped steer my neighbourhood through the complex layers of the planning process at City Hall. That movement culminated in the founding of our community association, an endeavour in which I have remained actively involved. As the President of the Old Stoneybrook Community Association, I’ve worked closely within and for my community for several years.

I’ve organized and been involved with many community initiatives and I’ve made lasting connections both within my community and throughout London. As part of the Masonville Community Council, which brings together representatives from all of the Community Associations in Ward 5, I’ve made connections with other neighbourhoods and we’ve supported each other through different endeavours. I have also contributed, as a regular columnist, to the North London Beacon, a community paper. The column, entitled Old Stoneybrook News, keeps North London residents informed about events and issues in and around Old Stoneybrook and North London.

In 2013, in recognition of my service to my community, Joni Baechler nominated me for and presented me with a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Q: In your opinion, what do you feel are essential qualities of a good leader?
A: It is essential that a good leader be passionate, decisive, intelligent, and willing to compromise. A good leader leads by example in promoting respectful discussion, honest dialogue, cooperation and collaboration. It’s inevitable that people will disagree but how they voice their disagreement is key to moving the discussion forward.

Without a doubt, there is a lot of ego in politics. It’s my belief that most of the current council members got started in politics for the right reasons but, at some point, ego took over. For some, it seems to have become about winning. It seems to have become more important to be right than to do what’s right for all the citizens of London. It’s the Politics of Me versus the Politics We.

A good leader recognizes that they are part of a team. If I am elected, I am 100% committed to work cooperatively and collaboratively with my colleagues on City Council.

Q: What qualities do you exhibit that make you a good fit for the role?
A: Passion – I try to approach everything in my life with passion. I am passionate about my family and about this city and what it can be. My passion for my community led me to take a group of neighbours who had banded together to deal with one specific issue and transform that group into a vibrant and active community association made up of over 700 families.

Leadership & Determination – As President of the Old Stoneybrook Community Association, I’ve worked closely with Joni Baechler, learning first-hand the level of preparation and hard work necessary in order to best represent my community. I’ve also worked with John Fleming, with developers and with residents. I have in-depth knowledge about processes and policies. As a result, I can hit the ground running. One current councillor once said it took him 2 years to figure out how things work at City Hall. I won’t have that problem.

Empathy – Thanks to my work with Joni Baechler, I know how things work at City Hall and thanks to my work with my community, I know the perception of City Hall from the citizen’s point of view. I know what the average citizen faces when they’re up against City Hall – it can be like a brick wall. As Ward 5 Councillor, I will engage citizens, research diligently and read reports to ensure that informed public policy is decided through thoughtful decision making, all while remaining cognizant of the citizen’s point of view. I see this as an extension and an expansion of the work I’ve been doing for the past several years.

Q: What is your vision for London?
A: I want to see London regain its position as a leader in economic growth and wealth creation. As our economy shifts from one that is labour-based to one that is knowledge-based – from traditional manufacturing to advanced manufacturing, research and technology – it’s important that London get on-board or risk being left behind.

Together, we can build a city of the future that uses infrastructure and resources responsibly; that offers people a variety of transportation options; and that includes its citizens in a productive and progressive conversation. We need to develop a multi-fold strategy to attract industry; to encourage and support small business; to promote entrepreneurship; and finally to entice graduates and young workers to make London their home. As part of this strategy, we must increase our efforts at improving and/or protecting the assets that make London an attractive, liveable city: our river, our green spaces, our multi-use path system, our arts and culture, etc.

Links to News Stories

Contact Information

Q&A with Marie Blosh, Ward 6 Candidate

i Oct 23rd No Comments by

As part of our Candidate Q & A series, we interviewed Marie Blosh, who is currently running for London City Councillor in ward 6.

MarieBloshCampaignHeadshotQ: What most influenced your decision to run?
A: I realized how ready I am to step into the role of city councillor. Over the 13 years I’ve lived in London, I’ve worked on neighbourhood issues and served on city-wide advisory committees on heritage and animal welfare. I’m at a point where I believe I can be effective as a councillor.

Q: What sets you apart from other candidates?
A: I have experience both as a community association president, and as an advisory committee member and chair. I’ve learned how to work collaboratively with city hall and other stakeholders to find solutions.

Q: What do you think is the most urgent issue the City is facing?
A: The economy, jobs, affordable housing, transportation infrastructure, access to higher education, and trust in public government are all inter-related, and parts of a larger issue that must be addressed.

Q: Would you share how you have participated in your community?
A: Two months after moving to London in 2001, I volunteered to be secretary of my neighbourhood association. I’ve never stopped being involved in neighbourhood and city-wide issues, both as a volunteer and as a member of city advisory committees.

Q: What is your vision for London?
A: I see London as a caring and compassionate community for people, animals and the environment.

Q: What is your vision for the ward you aim to represent?
A: Ward 6 consists of several neighbourhoods that surround Western. We are united as a ward, but each neighbourhood has its own unique character that should be nurtured and preserved.

Q: What do you believe is the role is of a city councillor/mayor?
A: A city councilor must represent a ward and at the same time consider the interests of the city as a whole.

Q: In your opinion, what do you feel are essential qualities of a good leader?
A: A leader must be able to listen and consider multiple points of view, have principles, know when (and when not) to compromise, show commitment through hard work but be willing to delegate, be creative and take some calculated risks to try new things.

Q: While compromise is important, are there any issues that you would not compromise on?
A: Details can always be worked out but principles should not be compromised.

Q: There has been a lot of talk in the press lately about the importance of equal representation of women in politics. Could you speak to this issue from your perspective?
A: I was involved in local politics as a university student then broke a longstanding gender barrier to become one of the first women to operate railroad locomotives. I entered law school as a mature, returning student at a time when law students were mostly young and male. All of this happened decades ago, so it saddens me that we are still talking about the lack of equal representation of women. There are factors like family and children that fall on women disproportionally, but also women in general need to feel more confident. I think that female role models in politics, sports and other areas of life will help build that confidence in young women.

Learn more at www.marieblosh.ca

2014 School Board Trustee Surveys

i Oct 19th No Comments by

As one of our originally planned #30Days2Vote activities, we had asked participants to review surveys for School Board Trustees. As we got closer to the middle of the month – we realized there were no organizations coordinating a survey of School Board Trustee candidates. We rearranged our original calendar of tasks and sent our own survey out to candidates.

The survey results were sent to participants in the #30Days2Vote challenge, and we’ve also included them on our website here! Click the link below to download the most up-to-date version of the compiled surveys. (We had some email hiccups and missed a few responses in the first email)