Women & Politics invited all women candidates to answer a few questions so that Londoners can get to know them better. We will be posting the answers as we receive them.
Ward 8 Councillor Candidate, Moon Inthavong
What would you like Londoners to know about you?
I would like Londoners to know that I love my city. I pride myself as a patriot of London and consider myself a community ambassador. I love nothing more than community engagement and connecting with the public. Especially, collaborating in ways to foster for a better now for an awesome tomorrow.
In addition, I have a background in specialized security and social services. Currently, I am a professor at Fanshawe College, teaching Ethical Issues in Business. I am a mom of 4 and have 3 grand-daughters. I am the wife of the late Master Warrant Officer (MWO) J.J. Kolar, who served as Company Sargent Major (CSM) for the 4th Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment. We owned and operated a security consulting and training agency called Security Training Solutions. Globally, we provided training to members of police agencies, military and corporate security.
Complimentary to my training as an instructor for close quarter combat, I created a women’s CQC club in response to military and law enforcement officers experiencing violence and harassment. I christen the club E.V.E., an acronym for Eradicate Volatile Environments. I taught classes out of Huron College at the University of Western Ontario, and extended the training to female students and their family members. I provided more than just training and self development. I provided healing and acceptance through peer to peer support.
Notably, over the past 6 years I have been passionately involved with community and not for profit’s such as:
What most influenced your decision to run?
London Ontario, needs to have more role models in the political arena. Many people have expressed to me that they are turned off by politics – and are very dissatisfied with the system. They feel that they could care less about voting in the municipal elections. They feel that their government has abandoned them and merely just gave up on them. They have a huge disconnect to their community leaders and service providers.
Londoners want to be inspired. To be excited about the future of their city and communities. I pledge to inspire our youth. To give them hope to reach their full potential. I want seniors to feel that they can depend on their community to provide essential provisions. My hope is for all Londoners to feel valued. To participate in, and help shape the future of our city.
I believe that the community is the core foundation of the city – leaders need to ensure basic needs are implemented as human rights. If we don’t elect the right leaders now we will miss the window of opportunity to move London a head of other cities. Regardless, I will continue to lobby, advocate and challenge for basics needs for all.
It takes a lot of courage to run in the elections; and aside from credentials – leaders need to bring their personality to the table. I am a leader with great compassion for humanity. Never underestimate the power of kindness – it is a choice that takes incredible strength. Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi were well known for having the gift of humanity. Echoing the profound words of John Connolly: “There is a nobility in compassion, a beauty in empathy and a grace of forgiveness.” I truly believe in the practice of altruism and I am inspired to run, so that our community can thrive.
What do you think is the most urgent issue the City is facing?
Insecure living is the most prevalent issue that needs to be eradicated now so that London does not become a destitute city, as we are already seeing this happening in pockets of our community. In other words – Infrastructure development is a major issue that has been plaguing us for numerous decades, and will keep crumbling if the leaders we elect do not advocate for peoples basic needs. Fortunately, more and more people are becoming aware of the social issues that we are challenged with. But, we have so much more work a head of us. In addition, these are the topics and issues I strongly standby and would like to action.
What experience do you bring to your role?
Physical Infrastructure will always have a working ticket. Social infrastructure is very underrepresented in community conversations. We have just touched the surface slightly on food insecurity, housing needs and income security. I believe that a community needs a leader with strong presence – who is introspective and a visionary. It is ideal that council should have representation from a social services lens and more so a councillor with a diverse background in social work and developments. We talk about social and affordable housing. We need leaders to action items. Who has a deep understanding of the social issues that affect the lives of the community. My experience and understanding in this subject were adapted, by having the privilege and honor of working with amazing agencies such as:
What is your vision for the ward you wish to represent?
Many ward 8 constituents share that they would like to build community hubs and to come up with ways in how to connect to others. I wish to continue this dialog and would provide community engagement meetings, monthly. Along with feedback.
The vision that I have for ward 8 is for our community to be the beacon of London, Ontario. I want the marriage of economy and philosophy to be a real concept, in the design and development of the community. I want us to be able to work, play and live in the same radius. I desire to lead and inspire ward 8 to be the model community – where neighbors come together to build lasting communities; a community of diversity and celebration that welcomes all. This can be a reality, when the right leader is elected for ward 8.
While compromise is important, are there any issues you would not compromise on?
I am guided by altruistic principles and therefore will never comprise my integrity. This is the focal point of every thought and action, for me.
How do you balance the challenges of your ward while addressing the priorities of the City?
Community engagement is very paramount to me. I am always out in the community at ground zero and love collaborating. I am a firm believer in bridging and connecting people, places and things together. Connectivity, for a strong community. I am all about anticipating and watching trends in our economy, developments and issues that will impact us as a community, and as an individual. I am very much a proactive participant of life and community. As a leader, I feel it is very imperative to have those lines of communications open. Constituents elect leaders to make informed decisions and act on their behalf. People have busy lives. People sometimes get bogged down by bureaucracies. It is my duty as their elect to ensure that their concerns come to me and that they are provided with the best resources and information they need. When a community feels, valued and is thriving, it will be able to assume some of the Cities priority and will desire to collaborate. Team work!
London’s social housing program houses 5000+ people and women are more likely to be living in poverty. In 2015, a Facilities Commission Analysis was completed. The findings determined in excess of $200 million is needed by 2020 to keep the current stock in fair condition. What will you do to ensure this work is completed?
We know that cost analysis doesn’t look at the social and human costs. Not only is putting someone in housing cheaper, it is also much more humane. The longer someone remains homeless the greater likelihood that their physical and mental health will deteriorate and there is an increased chance of an early death. Affordable living vs Social Housing, these are variables. We need both. The city of London has contacted the Housing Development Corporation (https://www.hdclondon.ca/#welcome) with the task of encompassing services and sound policy, in supporting the city with social and affordable housing.
In addition, it is imperative that the city of London continue to work with social agencies. More so, consider the private housing stock to fill in some of the gaps. Housing is a complex issue. Look at the housing market and anyone can see that the cost of rent is much higher than what is allotted.
Part of the solution I believe, would be to implement a basic income program. This would provide a solid foundation for our people to thrive and can participate in commerce. It will strengthen the economy – as currency is generated. Unfortunately, our current government cancelled the Basic Income Pilot. 4000 participants are not only let down by their leaders but are attacked on their constitutions of basic human rights. I am part of the working group for Basic Income London Chapter. We are diligently continuing to advocate and finding resolutions.
Our organization aims to promote the importance of equal representation of women in the political arena. Could you share your perspective on this issue?
We are family figures. We are mentors and scholars. We are friends and neighbors. Per the City of London Website (2018); London’s population was 48% male and 52% female. For the last two decades, females outnumbered males in London Ontario. Yet females are under represented. It is imperative to support qualified and passionate representatives. I have daughters and a granddaughter that I support to be strong and capable individuals. If they chose to become civil servants – they have my support %1000. It is my hope that constituents of ward 8 elect a leader that has a track record for community engagement and services. In addition to having various experiences and contributions.
In closing, London needs a visionary leader who can foster a thriving community that is fortified by valued members. Their good works and deeds will be reminiscent in the lives and communities they have served and touched. I am that leader and what ever the issue – no matter what, “we’ve got this” London!
Yours in confidence and trust – Ms. Moon Inthavong; ward 8 city councillor candidate