Local Matters at election time
A few people have asked me for my opinion on both mayor and ward candidates. I figured I’d highlight a few ideas in one place. This year ranked ballots enter the fray. It will be fascinating to see how that works out.
What I think is also important is to share why I like endorse certain people. I think it’s far too easy to make partisan assumptions when judging preferences. I also think it’s not always clear about people’s motives and incentives for endorsing people, so I’ll try to be as transparent as possible with my endorsements.
Before I begin, I would like to thank all candidates for running — even those I disagree with (and even sometimes spar with publicly). It takes a lot of guts to put your name forward and go through the wringer of public campaigning. So even if I don’t endorse you, know you have my respect for putting your name forward. Thank you.
I base my endorsements on the following criteria (in no order of importance — I just reference them so I need them numbered):
The London Plan. I have been all about this since it was announced. Below is a video of me talking to City Council in 2014. My support of this plan is not new. Candidates that support the city’s official plan are more likely to be aligned with my vision for the city, and I’m more likely to endorse them because of it. I do not believe I have a direct incentive here, beyond wanting to see London’s tech community grow and thrive — I believe that the London plan does that.
No single issue voting. I think it’s a valid election tactic to pick one single issue and hammer away at that to the exclusion of all else. I disagree with it being a good filter to elect a candidate. There’s anti-BRT slate that focuses on this as a single issue. It reminds me of the 0%’ers that campaigned almost exclusively on the 0% property taxes. Being anti-BRT is just as dangerous and lacking nuance as campaigning on 0%. Being anti-BRT or proposing other options as a mix of other campaign promises is fine. I’ve been fairly public about my support of BRT — I’m less concerned if a candidate doesn’t support it as I am if they’re using that as the exclusive means to get a council seat. I do not believe I have a direct incentive here.
Leadership. The mayor is arguably one of the weakest leadership position in Canada. The mayor needs the support of 7 of 14 other people in order to move anything forward. They can not directly get staff to action, and the CAO and administrative staff of the city serve at the pleasure of council and not the mayor. In order to achieve any positive momentum, a mayor has to lead council vs. direct it. I think many people perceive the mayor as a similar role to CEO or executive directory, however, it’s more like a board chair. Important, but ultimately useless without the support of the rest of the board and the senior leadership of the organization. I also don’t think I have any direct incentives here, other than I am a leadership geek and effective leadership is my jam. I’d like to see that exhibited in the highest level of office in our region.
Diversity. I think diversity is key on our city council — the lens that we use to diagnose city problems and the way we see the city depends greatly on our city. We need to make sure we elect a council that represents all of London, not just a privileged few.
Given the points listed in #1, 2, 3 and 4 above — Tanya Park is my obvious choice. For point #1, she’s the only candidate that’s been strong on the London Plan across her campaign. She also nails #2, being in support of BRT while also looking across multiple initiatives for what the city requires. Last, but not least, I believe she’s the kind of leader we need to lead council vs. attempting to direct it.
I’m a bit late to come out with my endorsement for Tanya because I had not the opportunity to engage properly and I take endorsements seriously. It takes a little while to get the feel of a candidate and how she’s going to navigate the pressures of the office.
If we needed an strong authoritarian leader, Tanya would be the wrong choice. If we need a leader who has vision and can work with council and senior leadership at the city, she’s the right one.
After listening to her in debates and seeing how she engage with citizens, I’ve increased my appreciation of her ability to be able to listen and lead — not through passion and rhetoric, but from a place of clarity and adherence to what’s best for all of our citizens, not just a privileged few that can afford to back a political campaign.
Tanya has run a solid campaign, has spoken articulately and intelligently at the debates, and has a clear understanding at what the job is and will make an excellent mayor.
With apologies to the Tanya camp for the late endorsement, I’d now add my voice to supporting her as our next mayor. When I look at the criteria that’s important to me, she shows up strong on 1–4.
My second choice on the ballot is Ed Holder. From my list above, he’s strong on issue #3 — Leadership. In listening to Ed, he knows what the job is and I think he can get the job done. I disagree with some of platform. Sometimes strongly. However, all things considered, I think he will be able to work with council and lead it. He understands what it means to be a leader the same way I do and I think that’s important.
The ward-by-ward challenge was interesting; I found I either knew the candidates well, or not at all. My apologies to anyone I didn’t know to endorse.
I like Michael van Holst here — I frequently disagree with Michael but I also think he operates from a place of integrity.
Shawn Lewis is a great human being and works tirelessly to make our city better. He’s flirted with being anti-BRT but I’m hoping he comes around after being elected. ;)
Mo Salih is one of my favourite people on the planet and we’re lucky to have him on city council. His energy is amazing!
Jesse Helmer I’ve officially endorsed:
Jesse is one of the most intelligent and thoughtful leaders I have encountered in our community. I can always count on Jesse having a well researched, well thought out and clearly articulated position. Even on the rare occasion where I disagree with Jesse, I can fully appreciate how he reasoned to his position. He serves Ward 4 and the broader City with distinction.
Shane has done great work in our community and I would love to see what he could do on council.
Maureen has done a great job in her capacity as city councillor and I’d be happy to see her continuing in the role.
Similar to Michael van Holst, I frequently disagree with Phil Squire but I think he acts with integrity and is transparent about how he comes to his decisions.
Mike has a good platform and passes point #1 and #2. I’d give a slight edge to Mike overall to a candidate I’d likely support. The wildcard is Phil’s experience on council and I think that’s going to be important with a new mayor. I don’t think Ward 6 has a wrong choice.
Josh Morgan’s my pick here, he does well on #1, #2 and #3.
I don’t know many of the candidates here besides Matt Reid. I like and respect Matt. I hope if he’s elected he can be convinced about BRT being a good thing :)
I think Matt would do a great job overall on city council.
Anna Hopkins did a good job in her tenure and other than Kyle having hilarious campaign signs, I’m not sure of anyone else in the running. Kyle’s sign may have won him the nod but because he had anti-BRT sign I’d give the nod to Anna here.
Virginia Ridley here — no question. She’s been an excellent city councillor for my home ward (I live in Ward 10). I have officially endorsed Virginia, here’s my endorsement:
Virginia is my favourite type of city councillor — engaged, intelligent, passionate and has a high amount of integrity. I’ve seen Virginia face significant adversity and stand tall for London. She not only wants to understand how our city service works, she goes hands on — her ride alongs with emergency services have been a highlight of watching how she connects her fiduciary responsibility down the every day lives of Londoner’s. As a business owner, it’s great to know that Virginia is at work every day protecting both our tax dollars but building a strong infrastructure for future business growth.
Stephen Turner has done a great job for Ward 11. I’d like to see him return to council.
This a tough one for me as I love so many things about Rowa Mohamed’s campaign. Similarly, I resonate strongly with Elizabeth Peloza’s messaging and respect she’s stayed strong on the anti-BRT rhetoric she’s faced.
Given all the criteria, I would put Rowa as first ballot and Elizabeth as second. However, it’s so close that you could convince me of the opposite. You do you :)
Arielle’s my clear pick here, as she sings through criteria #1–4. I endorsed Arielle officially, here’s my endorsement:
I first met Arielle through a comment on a blog post. Because of that comment, I interviewed her for an upcoming podcast. She challenged me directly and respectfully about the views I held about our city (spoilers: I believe she was right). I learned so much from her in a forty-five minute exchange that I have begun to reshape my worldview on city building. I can’t wait to see what she’s able to accomplish in the role of a Ward 13 councillor. She has the intelligence, educational background, and commitment to community to lead a ward that will see significant changes in the coming years. I love that she’s keenly aware of how important it is to balance the needs of the downtown business community with the residents who ultimately live in the ward and hold her accountable. She’s a charismatic change agent and I would recommend taking the opportunity to meet her in person.
Second ballot here for me would be John Fyfe-Millar. I expected to enter this election cycle endorsing John. He’s been a great contributor to London and would make a great voice at city hall.
Third, I would put forward Ben Benedict. He’s done a lot of great things to build London and his voice would be welcome at the horseshoe.
Jared’s soft spoken but an intelligent and deliberate decision maker. He would be my first ballot and deserves a 2nd term at city hall.
I will fully admit I don’t know the trustees as well as I should, but here’s a few rockstars:
Amanda Stratton — Amanda’s an amazing, intelligent and passionate person. She also knows how to get work done at the committee level. I’m excited about how she’ll bring a business and entrepreneurial lens to the debates at the board.
Sherri Moore — We’ve known the Moore family for quite some time, and they’re good people. She’s a champion for building inclusive communities, which is definitely needed in our education system.
Corrine Rahman — Corrine has reached out to help me with several initiatives that benefit children in our community, most recently our Star Wars day. I always appreciate people who volunteer their time and energy (with no expectation of return) to help children.
Joyce Bennet — I don’t know her very well personally, but she’s spoken very highly of by people I respect and admire.
PS — if you made it this far please forgive any typos/grammar errors, etc. I would normally put this post through a bit of a review but time’s ticking!
Thanks again to all of those running to make our city a better place. Enjoy your time on the 22nd while you wait to find out if it’s your turn to be in the spotlight. And maybe 23rd. And, maybe the 24th.