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.
What would you like Londoners to know about you?
I ran for politics because when I looked at the 2010-2014 council I didn’t see anyone who was like me and my neighbours. I, like many of my neighbours, thought that we needed people who were less more political and more like us at City Hall making the decisions that impact us.
When I ran for council in 2014, I was stunned at the amount of support and encouragement I got from the community and several community leaders. I ran because I wanted a better city, and common sense decision making. I wanted a municipal government and elected representative who communicated with and listened to the people that they represent. I am running for re-election because I still believe that I can serve Londoners well and do what I do best – listen, learn, make common sense decisions, and provide positive change for our city. I want London to be the best city it can be, and I believe that I can contribute to that at council for 2014-2018. I am a wife, a mother, a volunteer, and a community builder.
What most influenced your decision to run?
My family was the biggest influence for me to run. I wanted to ensure that our city continued to grow and prosper so that there were opportunities for young people to stay, work, live and love the best city I know. The integrity of our city council and the headlines coming out of our city impact the reputation of our city on a provincial, national and international stage.
What do you think is the most urgent issue the City is facing?
Our city is facing many issues – our growth and sprawl has caught up with us and the infrastructure gap continues to need to be addresses. Our infrastructure is not always coping with the environment and effects of climate change – and we need to continue to make upgrades. We have a long way to go on accessibility and ensuring that our facilities are able to be used by everyone. We are facing significant issues with homelessness, addictions, mental health, poverty and so much more. We need to attract and grow more business, and also to retain more of the talent we have here in London.
What experience do you bring to your role?
I am an effective communicator. I know how to talk with people, and to really listen to what they have to say. I am a leader. I can easily walk into roles and provide leadership and direction.- I also know when to stand back and let someone else lead, while still making sure that my input is heard and considered.
I have been on council for the past four years, and have quickly earned the respect of those who work with me. I am organized and prepared. I get things done.
What is your vision for the ward you wish to represent?
Ward 10 is great! We are blessed with diversity. The people of ward 10 are young, and not so young. They are new to Canada, and others have lived in the same home for their entire lives. They are working in service industry’s, social services, education, government, and are entrepreneurs.
My vision for the community is that we are a community where residents feel heard, and have a voice. Where government is at someone’s kitchen table as much as it’s at city hall. The people of ward 10 want opportunities to contribute and to participate in the decisions that impact them, in ways that they are comfortable. That is not always at a Public Participation Meetings; more often than not it is through a phone call, email or visit. I wish to continue to provide my neighbours the same level of service and support that they have come to expect since my term on council.
While compromise is important, are there any issues you wold not compromise on?
I believe in doing the right thing. Sometimes that’s unpopular, but the role of a councillor is to make decisions. This has to be based on evidence, knowledge, research and community input. I fight for the things that I believe in, and the things that community wants.
With more than 25, 000 people living in ward 10 – I can’t please everyone all the time. I have to make decisions that some individuals may disagree with – but in those instances, there are others who agree with it. I try to balance the will of the community with the research, and the underlying principal of doing the right thing.
How do you balance the challenges of your ward while addressing the priorities of the City as a whole?
I advocate for my community. Through my monthly newsletter, and quarterly ward meetings, as well as phone calls, in person visits, and emails, I get feedback from the community. I am their representative, and strive to represent them well at City Hall. I participate in city wide decision making, and make well informed decisions about the issues that impact the city.
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?
I have already spent time advocating with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing about this issue. Social Housing was downloaded from the province without the reserves needed to address the maintenance of housing. We need to work with other levels of government to ensure that they are meeting their commitment to the people on London and supporting housing. Along with that I have supported many initiatives such as supporting our housing development corporations and making investments in affordable housing.
Our community has a responsibility to ensure that all people have access to their basics needs.
Our organization aims to promote the importance of equal representation of women in the political arena. Could you share your perspective on this issue?
Having multiple voices and perspectives allows for better decision making. When both men and women are contributing to the discussion, we are able to address things that we wouldn’t otherwise know are an issue if we didn’t have diverse representation. We have had many strong women who come before me, but we have never had a council that was made up of at least 50% women.
I have supported many initiatives to increase women’s participation in local government because I believe that we need to have their voices as a part of the conversation.
I support more women being involved, and have actively worked to breakdown some of the barriers for women to participate.
To #supporther by volunteering and/or donating, please go to www.virginiaridley.com