Get to know Lori-Ann Pizzolato

Get to know Lori-Ann Pizzolato

i Oct 11th No Comments by

Women & Politics invited all women school board trustee candidates to write a brief bio so that Londoners can get to know them better. We will be posting the answers as we receive them.

Lori-Ann Pizzolato, Wards 1, 11, 12, 14 for TVDSB School Board Trustee Candidate

I decided to run for a Trustee position because I strongly believe families need an advocate who will push for improved dialogue and more transparency when it comes to school and board decisions.

For the last 10 years, I have been volunteering and advocating for families through my role in School Councils, Home and School groups and as a member of the Thames Valley Council of Home and School Associations (TVCHSA) and Ontario Federation of Home and Schools Association.  Currently, I sit on three local school councils and am a member of two committees at the Thames Valley School Board (Environmental, Think about it!).  For the past three years, I have been the TVCHSA Area Chair working with 15 schools as a means to support and encourage parent engagement.

I am focused on building community and helping shape a unified and consistent approach so that we can provide feedback to our schools and board.  I strongly believe that parents need a voice when it comes to decisions that affect not only the education of their children but their health, safety and social well being.  With my experience and my passion, I would be honoured to represent YOUR voice.

I am a married mother of three children (all still in the public school system) and grateful for my family’s support throughout this current adventure!

 

Get to know Corrine Rahman – School Board Trustee Candidate

i Oct 8th No Comments by

Women & Politics invited all women school board trustee candidates to write a brief bio so that Londoners can get to know them better. We will be posting the answers as we receive them.

 

Corrine Rahman

TVDSB Trustee Candidate

Wards 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6

Email: Corrine.rahman@gmail.com

www.rahman4trustee.ca/platform

Cell: 226-377-5200

Facebook: @rahman4trustee

Twitter:  @CorrineRahman

 

I’m running because we need to ensure we have passionate, informed, progressive voices advocating for our children.

About me:

  • Mom of three, we are a TVDSB family.
  • Fanshawe College instructor teaching courses in the Kinlin School of Business in: Human Resources, Leadership, Conflict Resolution and Ethics.
  • An educational background in: Leadership studies (MA), Communications Studies (Hons. BA) and Political Science (BA) , a post-graduate certificate in Human Resource Management and a certificate in Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution.
  • Past School Council Chair (two terms), past Home and School Vice-chair. Current Thames Valley Parent Involvement Committee parent member, Parent representative for TVDSB Ad-hoc strategic planning committee.
  • West Regional Lead for the Justice of the Peace Appointments Advisory Committee and a Board member for Mainstreet London.

I’m always available to discuss any issues impacting our students.  Concerned parents have already raised the issues of:  Academic Performance, High School Graduation Rates, Special Education, the changing Learning Environments, Student Mental Health and Well-being, Parent Engagement, and Student Transportation.  I have shared my thoughts on these issues on my website.

As your Trustee, student well-being and achievement will guide my decision making. I am committed to working with parents, educators, trustees, the community, and our administration to find solutions.

Q&A Profile with Tricia Lystar

i Oct 4th No Comments by

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.

Tricia Lystar, Candidate for Ward 4

What would you like Londoners to know about you?

I’m 38, a small business owner and a mother. I’ve been dedicated to community service most of my adult life and an active member of the London Central Lions Club serving on their Board of Directors the past four of five years.  I see myself as an advocate and am interested in continually working with and for the best interests of ward 4 within city hall.  I have respect for all ideas and am ready to work hard to engage the constituents of the ward with a focus on community.

What most influenced your decision to run?

I’m tempted to say it was one candidate running unopposed that had initially influenced my decision to run, but after careful consideration of what it would mean to me to be an effective councillor in ward 4, I decided it would be a privilege to run to represent Londoners.  I want to find a solution to the BRT that better serves all areas of the city.  I’d like to have a voice representing the ward in tackling our homelessness, addictions and affordable housing crisis and I truly believe that council should be assisting their constituents through the red tape of city hall rather than pointing them to various departments.  In addition, I’ve always found East of Adelaide to be lacking when it comes to some city services compared to other areas of the city.  I’d like to be a voice advocating for more in ward 4, after all, we are all tax payers.

What do you think is the most urgent issue the City is facing?

Our most urgent issue is lack of mental health services and gaps in community funded groups and services which are affecting our ability to work to combat our huge addiction problem as well as a growing number of homeless in our city.  London is the third highest (of the big cities) in the country of child poverty rates.  We must do better for our citizens.

What experience do you bring to your role?

I’m an engaged listener with vision and motivation alongside the empathy and respect to consider all points of views when making a decision.  My time on the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee has given me some valued information as to the inner workings of City Hall, committees and how decisions are made.  I’m a small business leader in my field and look forward to using that experience in managing relationships both with city staff and other councillors and my passion for community can be found in my years of volunteer work with varied organizations and service clubs.

What is your vision for the ward you wish to represent?

I’d like to see the following for the constituents of ward 4:

  • Safer neighbourhoods
  • Better representation from their elected councillor
  • More services, at least equal to those in other wards
  • Curbs & storm drains in residential subdivisions still lacking these
  • A commitment to community, building bridges to create a stronger and more compassionate city.

While compromise is important, are there any issues you wold not compromise on?

Collaboration is key to all parties feeling satisfied at the end of the day.  The only issues I would not compromise on were any which denied or withdrew services from vulnerable or marginalized citizens or violated human rights.

How do you balance the challenges of your ward while addressing the priorities of the City as a whole? 

I will look to disagreement in ideas as a learning opportunity in both managing challenges within the ward and being an effective representative for the City as a whole.  I believe that with respect for all ideas, issues and concerns, most challenges can be met with some satisfaction on both sides of the table.  If there was an issue I felt strongly about but the majority of my ward felt otherwise, I would vote in their interests.

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 need to be mindful in our budgeting for all municipal projects over the next four years and beyond to ensure we have enough to manage our social services.  Municipal housing is in dire need of maintenance and more stock.  We need more accessible units for people of varied abilities and impairments.  Exploring ground-breaking ideas and successful pilot projects in other cities within the province as well as Canada wide can help us create a vision to constantly improve our social housing.

Our organization aims to promote the importance of equal representation of women in the political arena.  Could you share your perspective on this issue? 

Women & Politics is an asset to all Londoners.  It is not only important to see equal representation of women in our council seats, but to work towards parity amongst immigrants and visible minorities as well.  We are a city where one in five is an immigrant to our country.  It is time to ensure representation for all including Indigenous Peoples.

For more information to volunteer and donate, please go to : www.lystar.ca

 

Q&A Profile with Stephanie Marentette Di Battista

i Sep 27th No Comments by

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.

Stephanie Marentette Di Battista, Candidate for Ward 5

 

What would you like Londoners to know about you?

I work hard. I am not someone who does anything half-way. When I take on a project or role, I put my heart and soul into it until the job is done and done well. If I am lucky enough to be chosen by the residents of Ward 5, I would like them as well as all of London to know that I am all in.

What most influenced your decision to run?

Every time I’m asked this question I am always very worried I’m going to sound incredibly cheesy when I respond, but the honest answer is that I want to make a difference. I feel I am a very lucky person. I am 30 years old and I own my own home and my own business. I have a supportive family and beautiful Great Dane pup named Brisbane. Even though I live in a different city, I get to see my parents almost every week. I am in a position where I can participate in the things I love on the side, namely dance, and I also sit on boards of charities that are important to me. I think all these things give me a lot to be thankful for.

Being a lawyer and someone who has worked for the federal civil service, I have a special set of skills in terms of oral and written advocacy, my knowledge of the law, and my experience with public policy. I would like to put those skills to use in a positive way on behalf of my community to which I feel I owe a great debt for the opportunities I’ve had. I truly believe that if you are someone who is lucky enough to be in a position where you can offer something to your community, you absolutely should.

What do you think is the most urgent issue the City is facing?

I think we have a confidence and leadership crisis at City Hall. I could write pages and pages of all of things we can do to continue to move London forward, however, none of that matters if London residents do not have faith in us. One of the biggest complaints I have heard while door knocking has nothing to do with BRT, putting up high-rises in subdivisions or safe injection sites and everything to do with a total lack of confidence in the City’s ability to do anything. Full stop. Ward 5 residents seem to generally feel as though they are not being heard and even if they do have an opportunity to voice a concern about something, it simply doesn’t matter. I know that this is not a Ward 5 problem, but a city-wide one. That level of disenfranchisement is really disheartening, and we desperately need to do something about this. Most of the major decisions our city faces in the next five to ten years are decisions that require public consultation. We will not get it if people feel that their voice ultimately does not matter. I think it is crucial that we restore public confidence and faith in City Hall. We must get back to the business of listening to Londoners and proposing and voting on policy with a view to that feedback. In other words, step up and show some leadership!

What experience do you bring to your role?

I’ve been involved in public service in one way or another for approximately fifteen years. I started by volunteering for the Member of Parliament in the riding I grew up in and went on to participate in my undergraduate program’s co-operative education placement program, which allowed me to work for the Canadian International Development Agency, Environment Canada and Public Safety Canada. I also worked for the Minister of State (Finance) and the Government House Leader. Following my work with the federal government, I attended Western Law and then ultimately went on to open my own practice here in London after articling at a large full-service firm and practicing at a boutique insurance defence litigation firm. Since I’ve been a lawyer, I have sat on the Board of Directors of the London Chamber of Commerce and the Red Shoe Society. I have also sat on the planning committees for major fundraisers to benefit London Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Arthritis Society.

I think my experience makes me unique as a candidate for a couple of reasons. First, because I have served as both a political staffer and a civil servant, I understand the need for collaboration between the municipal civil service and Councillors. From some of the feedback I’ve received knocking on doors, I know that that has not always been the case in the past and fostering greater cooperation in that regard is something I’d hope to improve if I am elected. I also understand the need for cooperation across levels of government and across political lines. I truly believe that partisan politics has no place at City Hall and any candidate hoping for the job should check that at the door, with a view to cooperation and healthy, respectful debate with all colleagues, be they federal, provincial or municipal.

Second, I’m a litigation lawyer. It is my job to listen to concerns and ideas, facilitate meetings to resolve disputes or translate ideas into action, and, if the need arises, to stand up in court and fight for my client. I believe that being a Councillor is very similar in that you need to know how to listen to the residents of your Ward, how to translate ideas and concerns into action, when to collaborate to move something forward and when to dig in and fight for it. I feel that my professional skills would allow me to be an effective, passionate advocate on behalf of Ward 5.

What is your vision for the ward you wish to represent?

The great thing about Ward 5 is that it is comprised of a community of neighbourhoods where you feel comfortable at every life stage. While out canvassing, I’ve met university students, young professionals, young families, families with older children, and retirees, and this diversity is really wonderful. My vision for Ward 5 is to continue to build and strengthen thriving neighbourhoods where any family can thrive, whether it’s a family of friends in medical school, a young family, or soul mates living out their final years.  To me, that is what Ward 5 is all about.

While compromise is important, are there any issues you wold not compromise on?

No. I don’t think that it is possible for any policy idea to push through without at least some element of compromise because no policy idea will ever be acceptable to every councillor in its inception. There will always be little tweaks needed to come up with something that the majority can support. That said, on the issues I feel strongly about or that Ward 5 residents feel strongly about, I would certainly dig in and advocate with as much strength as possible, but I also accept that it might be necessary to compromise on a couple of aspects in order to implement the policy.

How do you balance the challenges of your ward while addressing the priorities of the City as a whole? 

I don’t think that those two things are necessarily incompatible. There may be different aspects of a policy proposal that may affect Wards differently, but there will always be common elements across the city in terms of the pros and cons of a particular policy proposal. Ultimately it is my belief that City Council members are first and foremost accountable to their Wards because it is the residents of each Ward who have chosen that individual to represent their views. But I think that it is important to ground decisions not just in what is best for the Ward but with a view to how it will affect the city as a whole. Take BRT for example. There are Ward-specific problems such as land expropriation and not having access to transit services, and then there are city-wide problems such as congestion, tax ramifications and the trains. It is my belief that we would need to resolve both sets of problems to come up with a workable transit plan.

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 agree that London faces serious poverty and housing issues.  Before making any decisions on spending, I would want to ensure I had all of the information in terms of the city’s responsibilities, what work has been completed to date and what remains outstanding, but if a major part of the city’s infrastructure requires substantial work, we have to get it done. It may need to happen over a couple of years to fit within the budget, but the city must look after its infrastructure, plain and simple.

Our organization aims to promote the importance of equal representation of women in the political arena.  Could you share your perspective on this issue? 

As someone who has spent a long time participating in politics, I can say with certainty that good decisions cannot be reached if half of the group on whose behalf such decisions are being made are absent from the discussion. Shaping public policy for all of society without women being a part of the conversation would be a bit like writing a book review on a novel of which you’d only read every other chapter. You simply cannot form the whole picture and give an informed opinion that way. The best way to ensure that all of the evidence is available before making a decision is for women to take a seat at the table. I think it’s wonderful that your organization offers the support that it does to help encourage women to get involved and to support female candidates. It is certainly a positive step to helping more women feel comfortable getting involved!

For more information, to volunteer and donate, please go to… my Facebook page – Stephanie Marentette Di Battista or shoot me an email at ward5@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Q&A Profile with Elizabeth Peloza

i Sep 24th No Comments by

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.

Elizabeth Peloza, Ward 12 Candidate

What would you like Londoners to know about you?

I’m a mom of 3 and I want London to be a safe, vibrant city that’s full of opportunities for your family and mine. I live here in Ward 12 and I give back to my community. My family is involved in Scouting (Cubs and Scouts), curling, bandits hockey, the school community and our local community association.  I see and hear the struggles families across our community are having and I want to be a bigger part of finding solutions.

I’m proud to be endorsed by a highly respected woman in politics and the Member of Parliament for London-Fanshawe, Irene Mathyssen. Irene’s endorsements and those from City Councillor Harold Usher, community organizers and advocates are listed in full on my website.

What most influenced your decision to run?

13 years ago I became a mom. It was a wake-up call. I looked at the direction our governments, federally, provincially and municipally, were taking and I didn’t see my child’s best interest represented. At that point I started to attend debates, presentations and volunteer in my community.  After over a decade behind the scenes I felt it was time to do more. So, here we are!

What do you think is the most urgent issue the City is facing?

Residents not being provided for!

According to the 2016 report from the Poverty Panel, we have 17% of Londoner’s living in poverty.  This has a ripple effect and not only impacting the families and individuals living in poverty but the larger community as well.  Poverty is a complex issue that had no single cause but many outcomes. We lack sufficient access to emergency shelter and subsidized housing.  We have up to a year long wait lists for of mental health and autism services. We provide insufficient supports for persons with mobility issues such as the need for Paratransit users to book 3 days in advance or improperly plowed sidewalks.   We also have a rampant drug problem with no long-term safe injection sites or rehab facilities.

I advocate for:

  • Subsidized units must be included in all new medium to large multi-unit development projects.
  • Permanent safe-consumption sites
  • A drug rehabilitation facility in London
  • A Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team for Law enforcement for mental health calls emulating Hamilton’s https://hamiltonpolice.on.ca/prevention/mental-health/mobile-rapid-response-team
  • Reduced Paratransit booking times. System upgrades to include ride confirmations the day before a scheduled pick up.
  • Food security. There’s an unacceptable amount of Londoners who go without food, let alone nutritious food. I’m glad to see food box programs launching in places like N’Amerind Friendship Centre. Community gardens and in school healthy snack programs are also essential.

What experience do you bring to your role?

My employment history has spanned townships, conservation authorities, corporations and non-profits. I have served on a variety of councils and in service organizations for years. Regardless if you’re receiving financial compensation for your time or not the core values of work ethic, respect and results hold true.

What is your vision for the ward you wish to represent?

Ward 12 is a gateway corridor into London.

  • Transit
  • LTC bus service to industrial areas
  • Reduced Paratransit booking times and service reminder confirmations
  • Park N Ride located on Exeter road that connects to city buses
  • See gaps in our sidewalk infrastructure filled
  • Connected cycling infrastructure across the city that is safe
  • Better snow removal
  • Enjoyment
  • Beautification along Wellington Road
  • Park lighting throughout the trails in White Oaks park
  • Sharps (needle) disposal boxes in our higher usage parks
  • Construction of an outdoor stage in White Oaks Park alongside the South London Community Centre. This area welcomes and serves a diverse community for city and settlement services. Having served on the planning committee for the South London Canada Day I would like to create a space where the community can gather throughout the year in outdoor festivities sharing cultures.

While compromise is important, are there any issues you wold not compromise on?

I strive for a win-win solution. I wouldn’t compromise on a project if the compromise violates human rights or access to services.

How do you balance the challenges of your ward while addressing the priorities of the City as a whole? 

Budgeting, leveraging economy of scale for project planning that can maximize on the amount that cities spend vs expected returns.

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?

As a child, my family and I spent an entire summer camping. Little did I know the reason for that was because we were homeless. Poverty can take so many forms and sometime be invisible.  This topic is a huge issue, multi-faceted and I’m glad to hear it raised as a concern at doors throughout the ward.

To insure the housing crisis is addressed I will advocate for:

  • Continue to implement the Homeless Prevention and Housing Plan that includes increasing the stock of affordable housing and supportive living.
  • Advocate for an increased budget for housing . This includes at council and with our provincial and federal partners for a National Housing Strategy.
  • Continuing to engage with landlords in keeping more people housed.
  • Dealing with building maintenance (which is currently drastically behind) and wait lists for affordable housing that are unacceptably long.
  • Retrofitting the buildings to ensure energy costs are reduced.
  • More accessible units for the disabled.
  • Having a set ratio of subsidized units in new medium to large multi-unit development projects.

Our organization aims to promote the importance of equal representation of women in the political arena.  Could you share your perspective on this issue?

When at a public meeting look around and see who’s there. Now look around and consider who ISN’T there.  That’s where this conversation starts. Which resident’s aren’t being engaged? Women, the elderly, children, racialized minorities, Indigenous people, the disabled?  Each group brings a valuable perspective. I am committed to including the voices of all those who have been marginalized from municipal politics, including the representation of women in London’s political arena.

For more information, to volunteer or donate, please go to: www.elizabethpeloza.ca

 

Q&A Profile with Mayoral Candidate Tanya Park

i Sep 20th No Comments by

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.

London Mayoral Candidate, Tanya Park

What would you like Londoners to know about you?

I’m a mom of two kids. I believe that together we can build a better city for the future, for the next generation. I believe in a city where we all prosper. I believe in a city that includes those who are struggling and invites those who are succeeding to lend a hand. I believe in that time where we all came together in the largest public consultation in Canadian history to create the London Plan, which was praised across the country and set us on a path to prosperity for all. Since then we have reduced our debt by 10 percent, lowered our unemployment rate to the lowest point in a decade, and have seen more than $1 billion in development for every year of council’s term. I want to keep this momentum going. I have experience in running the business of this city and can step into the mayor’s office, ready to work, on day one.  I am ready to work with our development community to build more affordable housing. I am ready to work with the trades to increase apprenticeships. I am ready to work with other levels of government and non-profit sector to help those who need assistance the most.

More importantly, I believe in London, I believe in all of you, and I want to work with and for you to build a better city, because in my vision of London, everyone matters.

What most influenced your decision to run?

The London Plan is not even a consideration in other candidate’s platform despite 85 percent of it being in effect. I saw attempts to undermine the work of our community over the last four years and I could not sit by and watch that vision be dismantled by those who don’t see all this community has accomplished over the past four years.

What do you think is the most urgent issue the City is facing?

Poverty, addictions, mental health, and housing are the single biggest interconnected issues facing our city today. We have a 20 percent poverty rate in London, addictions cost lives and resources, London Middlesex Housing Corporation tells us they need $225 million to merely maintain their existing housing units, and people in our community wait years for access to social housing. Also, people in crisis across our city, not to mention the province, wait between six months and two years for mental health treatment. The municipal government does not control the resources needed to address these seemingly intractable issues, the provincial government does. If elected mayor, one of my major focuses will be to strongly advocate for the resources Londoners need. This has gone on too long and in order to solve it we will need the whole community to come together.  I pledge to help bring that voice to the forefront and speak clearly to the provincial government on behalf of London.

What experience do you bring to your role?

I have spent my time over the past four years working in our community and giving my time to learn about the issues Londoners care about. For the last four years, I’ve been a part of running the business of the City of London. On day one, I can step into the mayor’s office without missing a beat because I have this experience. I have done the work of multi-year budgeting; I have done the work on every council committee where I’ve been making decisions on everything from land use planning to emergency services. I was a part of the council that brought down our city’s debt by 10 percent, saved 10,000 apartment dwellers money on their rent when we harmonized the cost of single homes with apartments, and created $1 million in development for each and every year of the last council.

More importantly, I know what it’s like to live below the poverty line. My family was poor and I was fortunate in that our parents hid that from us. My family’s experience taught me the power of community and belief, and of what happens when someone gets a chance to succeed.

What is your vision for the ward you wish to represent?

I’m asking for London’s support because the city deserve a vision that’s about tomorrow and not yesterday, not about saying no, but saying yes to what we can achieve together. The world, our country, our province, and our city has changed. We can’t go back to the old ways of doing things. It will take leadership to work with council to ensure the London Plan’s vision, a vision outlined by Londoners, will come to fruition. We don’t have time for stale ideas that slow us down while the world is speeding by.

While compromise is important, are there any issues you would not compromise on?

Compromise is essential to our democracy, but there are exceptions. I believe publicly owned assets should remain under municipal control and issues surrounding racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and anti-Indigenous sentiments can never be ignored.

How do you balance the challenges of your ward while addressing the priorities of the City as a whole?

Ward councillors have a large responsibility in connecting with their residents, but also play a role in supporting the entire city as they do so. The mayor represents every Londoner, no matter if they live in White Oaks, Argyle, or Hyde Park. What is good for a ward is generally good for all of London as we make decisions that affect the liveability of our city’s neighbourhoods. I wouldn’t step on the toes of ward councillors, but I would be happy to bring my leadership, and the resources of the mayor’s office, to assist in finding a beneficial resolution to any situation.

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?

The first thing we need to understand is the responsibility for ending these issues lies with all four levels of government. Our Indigenous, municipal, provincial and federal leaders must come together to create a path forward where everyone benefits from prosperity. London has one of the lowest funded social housing corporations in the province. Our local analysis was unequivocal in stating LMHC needed an additional $225 million just to keep their 3,600 units in a livable condition. This is the result of decades of underfunding from when the province downloaded social housing to the municipality.

Our community’s biggest issue, however, is not just housing. Twenty percent of Londoners live below the poverty line. We have a crisis of addictions and mental health, and this struggle is taxing our already overburden health care system. Our struggles don’t end there as our community also has an escalating issue with precarious employment for far too many and our Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Service Program benefits are so underfunded they don’t cover today’s cost of living. The cost of not addressing the crisis in housing, in mental health, and addictions, along with the shortfalls of ODSP and OW rates, have created a culture where so many are no benefiting from London’s prosperity.

I would love to tell you the housing question has a quick fix answer — and anyone who does give that is uniformed and misleading — but I can’t. I am fully committed to making sure the LMHC gets the money it requires to serve my fellow community members, but there is also a huge waiting list and a deeper need as well with these issues mentioned above. LMHC needs the flexibility to borrow money, something it doesn’t currently have, and to leverage dollars with the Housing Development Corporation.

I am fully committed to building on the work of the LMHC board and staff has already completed in the last four years. The issues of poverty, housing, addictions, and mental health are my top priorities and if elected they will be a key focus on my time as mayor.

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 know there is a severe deficit when it comes to equal representation on London city council. We are at the point where women running in all but five of 14 wards and now is the time to help them get elected and end this deficit. Even over the course of this campaign I have been active in encouraging and advising diverse women from across the city, and the province, in reaching their goals. Encouraging talented women is important, but helping them actually get elected is essential. Now is the time for you to do your research and find a woman you can support and help her get elected.

For more information or to donate or volunteer go to: https://tanyapark.london/

Q&A Profile with Vicki Van Linden

i Sep 18th No Comments by

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.

Vicki Van Linden, Candidate for Ward 11

 

What would you like Londoners to know about you?

I want Londoners to know that I respect activism, the voices of citizens, and grass-roots involvement. I believe that the best progress is organic and comes from the community, and is not imposed from the top. As a long-time feminist I remember when it was completely legal to tell a woman that “we just don’t hire women for this job”. So, I know that social change takes place, but only if we work for it. London is where I’ve chosen to make my permanent home, so I have a real stake in this city. I feel deeply connected to my neighbourhood, Southcrest, and value having good neighbours and a comfortable home. I know that I’m fortunate to live in a safe, welcoming community, and my neighbourhood means a lot to me.

What most influenced your decision to run?

Homelessness and the affordable housing crisis are my main reasons for running. As a city (and a nation) we have not responded to this crisis with appropriate urgency. While it’s true that housing and health-care for challenges like addictions are provincial responsibilities, various provincial governments have exacerbated these problems with under-funding and downloading to municipalities. I believe there has been too much concentration on ‘city building’ – not a bad concept – but undertaken at the expense of paying too little attention to people whose lives are falling apart around us. At this point, it’s up to us to react and find our own solutions to housing, homelessness, and addictions, which will require cutting back in other areas of the city budget to meet these needs in our community.

What do you think is the most urgent issue the City is facing?

Homelessness and addiction.

What experience do you bring to your role?

I served on the City’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, and served as Chair for my final year. During that year I lead our successful effort to update the pet limit bylaw, making it easier for rescue group/foster homes to provide their volunteer service to the community. This bylaw update had been attempted before but was a contentious issue. To get it passed I organized a consultation meeting with directors of several area rescue groups, a local Veterinarian to provide education, and members of city staff to work out a workable bylaw. Then, I lobbied city council members, including promoting a compromise accommodation that made the bylaw acceptable to enough members of council to pass. I also lead the effort to develop and get adopted a wildlife conflict policy that also involved a lot of consultation to get accomplished. And, I participated in many other successful initiatives that updated our animal services and policies.

My current employment is researching and writing for an animal protection not-for-profit. Our organization focuses on legislation and policies, and the political processes for advocating for improved animal protection laws and policies are the same processes for all legislative action.

What is your vision for the ward you wish to represent?

My campaign slogan is “Room for Us All”. By that, I mean an inclusive and respectful community that makes room for people from a variety of income levels and cultural groups. There are people in Ward 11 that also need affordable housing and who live on the margins. We need a variety of housing options to provide safe shelter for all our residents. My goal is a healthy economy, an inclusive and compassionate community, and a clean environment for all Londoners. “Room for Us All” also includes making room for wildlife through protection of their habitat, and accepting that wild animals are part of the urban environment.

While compromise is important, are there any issues you would not compromise on?

The areas where I would not compromise are regarding protection of essential values and marginalized groups of people. For instance, I would not compromise by watering down any policy or service that protects the equality and advancement of women, LGBTQ2 persons, racialized persons, Indigenous citizens, or any other marginalized group. We can’t turn back on the progress made to accommodate those who have not yet adjusted to our more inclusive society.

How do you balance the challenges of your ward while addressing the priorities of the City as a whole?

It’s true that we owe our first loyalty to citizens of our own wards when it comes to responding to constituency concerns. But, in much of the work of council; like addressing policies, bylaws, budgets, and city projects the entire city is affected, so we should remember that we serve all of London. London needs to thrive as a whole, not just within specific neighbourhoods and Ward Councillors owe loyalty to the entire community.

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’ve referred in my campaign to determining what are ‘want to haves’ from ‘need to haves’. Taking care of people is a ‘need to have’. Refusing to allow citizens to sink into misery because of housing insecurity needs to be a major priority of the next council.  I believe that we have to make potentially unpopular decisions like cutting back on urban renewal projects, including downtown renewal for the next four years, to focus on the housing crisis. For example, I am disturbed that we consider funding recreational enhancements like the Springbank Dam and a viewing bridge at the Forks of the Thames when people endure poor quality housing, a declining housing stock, or no home at all.

I will try to convince the rest of council to consider the question, “can this money be better spent on housing and supports” when we make budget decisions. This does not mean I propose a lack of support for important services like libraries and sport fields. But, we are going to have to make some tough decisions, at least for a time, to lift people out of despair.

Our organization aims to promote the importance of equal representation of women in the political arena.  Could you share your perspective on this issue?

It’s obvious that we really need your organization and I have found it to be helpful. We still see that women are vastly under-represented on the present council, and even among the list of candidates we see far too few women running. In the 21st century it’s disturbing to see how few women candidates there are. The work of Women & Politics is really important and the kinds of supports that your organization offers are exactly what is needed.

 For more information to volunteer and donate, please go to: www.VickiVanLinden.ca

 

 

 

Q&A profile with Morena Hernandez

i Sep 15th No Comments by

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.

Morena Hernandez, candidate for Ward 8

Morena Hernandez, candidate for Ward 8

 

What would you like Londoners to know about you?
I would like Londoners to know that I am committed to working with them to build a brighter and better future for our city. London welcomed my family 24 years ago and since then has given us the opportunity to thrive and to call it our home. I’m always looking for ways to give back to my community by volunteering and supporting local events.  If elected city councillor I look forward to continuing this work city-wide.

What most influenced your decision to run?
I’ve always believed in giving back to my community and with our long-time ward councillor stepping down I wanted to make sure that we continued having a strong voice on city council, which is what I hope to bring. Knowing that I had the support of my family, friends and colleagues who I look up to and respect made the decision much easier.

What do you think is the most urgent issue the City is facing?
Although BRT is dominating discussion lately, I believe the most urgent issue in our city at the moment is the opioid and HIV crises we are facing. London has always come together to help those among us who are most vulnerable and important work is already underway aimed at saving lives. I am confident that if we continue to build on this work, we can create real and lasting change for our community

What experience do you bring to your role?
I bring a wide breadth of experience from working in the finance, not-for profit and health-care fields. I’ve also actively volunteered and supported a number of causes important to our community over the years. By being engaged with my community and hearing about the issues that matter most to them, I believe I can help bring the voice of the people to city council, as the representative for Ward 8.

What is your vision for the ward you wish to represent?
I want to see Ward 8 continue to thrive. As we grow, I envision safe neighbourhoods with measures in place for traffic control and safety. It’s clear that we need improved public transit services to underserved areas and better infrastructure as we’ve outgrown our roads. Commuting to work, school or leisure activities has become an odyssey – especially at peak travel times – for everyone whether they drive, take the bus or ride their bikes.

While compromise is important, are there any issues you would not compromise on?
I believe that as a leader you should always come to the table with an open mind and a willingness to find common ground for a solution.

How do you balance the challenges of your ward while addressing the priorities of the City as a whole?
The key to balance is having open and ongoing communication with constituents and council colleagues. Although we live in Ward 8, many of us work and play around the city, so decisions made in council chambers impact all constituents, regardless of their ward designation.

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 will continue to build on the work of our current council to champion housing programs and will also support and encourage partnerships with the private sector to include affordable housing options in new development projects. Having a place to call home is a basic human need and leads to better health, independence, and the stability and security that all Londoners deserve.

Our organization aims to promote the importance of equal representation of women in the political arena.  Could you share your perspective on this issue?
I believe equal representation of women in leadership, and particularly in politics, is vital to ensuring decision making is inclusive and informed. Encouraging more women to run for office and supporting them along the way will benefit everyone and help create policies at the municipal level which are representative of all Londoners.

To support Morena’s campaign by volunteering or making a donation please visit her website www.morenahernandez.ca.

Q&A Profile with Virginia Ridley

i Sep 11th No Comments by

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.

Virginia Ridley, candidate for Ward 10

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

Why we remain neutral

In the fall, Women & Politics launched a public campaign for equal representation on City Council – to have 50% of councillors identify as women, and 50% identify as men. Since then, we’ve provided media training, a campaign school, a leadership workshop, and networking events to support women in their various leadership roles in the community and to help candidates prepare for their campaigns.

As we move into the depths of election season, here are a few more ways we’re supporting women candidates:

  • Q&A with Women & Politics: We’re conducting interviews with all women candidates and will then post the interviews on our website so that the community can get to know the candidates better.
  • Resource page: We’re developing a new resource page on our website that highlights the key lessons from our campaign school (volunteer coordination, data management, networking, fundraising, etc.) for those who were unable to attend.
  • All Candidates Meetings in each ward: In partnership with the Urban League of London and the London Community Foundation, we will be hosting all candidates meetings in all 14 wards.
  • Campaign advice: Our Vice-Chair and campaign expert, Marci Allen-Easton, has sat down with numerous women candidates and provided general advice for their campaigns. All women candidates are invited to connect with her.
  • We are also consulting with candidates to see if there are other ways we can support candidates in an inclusive way (i.e. offering the support to all candidates). Please stay tuned because there will be more to come.

Many people have asked us about endorsing women candidates to support their campaigns. While this seems like a logical next step in our efforts, we choose not to specifically support any local women candidates. This means our board members (who have various political leanings)  and our organization will not endorse any specific local candidates.

Why do we do this?

Women & Politics is a citizen-led grassroots organization based in London. We are a non-partisan organization and provide resources and supports to all women. Our mission is to amplify women’s voices in the realm of politics – it is broader than winning elections. It is for women to engage in politics in the way that makes most sense to them. By endorsing candidates, we could alienate supporters of our organization who don’t agree with a candidate’s views. This could end up causing women to be silent on issues that matter to them – the complete opposite result of what we’re working for.

Being non-partisan sometimes means you must be quiet so that all voices can be heard. That doesn’t mean it’s easy; we would love to endorse candidates and drive more political conversations. But we would be doing a disservice to our organization if we chose to endorse local candidates in an election at any level. By remaining non-partisan we are in the strongest position to advocate on issues that affect all women, and to work toward our mission of amplifying all women’s voices.

We look forward to continuing our work and finding new ways to support all women candidates.

Anne-Marie on behalf of the Board of Women & Politics