As featured on London Free Press:
What’s the most pressing problem you’d tackle, if elected?
There are many pressing issues facing London right now including adequate employment, housing, and transit. We need to work to create an environment that gives businesses, and the thousands of graduates from our post secondary institutions and apprentice programs a compelling reason to stay and build their careers and foundations in London.
People are struggling to get by but don’t feel heard. Especially those on fixed incomes, like older adults, retirees, and those in need of social assistance. I want to make life more affordable for families in our community who work hard and can’t get ahead. There is a need for investments in affordable housing, child care and public transit to make life more affordable.
London has the potential to be a true leader in Ontario for business and real estate due to our location, for education and arts due to our esteemed post secondary institutions, and for health due to our diversified hospitals and treatment centres. This, in addition to our vibrant cultural communities, should make us a champion and innovator in the region for business growth, employment and equity. We need to create the conditions for these areas to further thrive and enrich our local economy.
Additionally, Londoners want to live in a city that is safe and inclusive. In order to build an inclusive city, we need to commit to strong public services that ensure:
- Accessibility for people with disabilities
- Strategies for equity, anti-oppression, anti-racism and diversity
- Preventive approaches to community safety and security
Do you support the current BRT plan, yes or no?
Our ward is greatly impacted by the BRT plan, and I hear it on the campaign trail as I consult with residents in our focus groups and at their doors when we canvass. We agree that London transit definitely needs a change. London deserves a transit system that is reliable, affordable, flexible and able to handle population growth. We need a plan that takes into account the needs of all Londoners. Workers and employment groups recognize that there are jobs available for Londoners but we can’t get people to to those jobs because our transit system does not adequately provide service to the whole city. I Londoners should drive the decisions we make; I will continue talking to my constituents to see what they believe is best for transit. I do believe that we need to be innovative and on the map alongside other major cities while we protect the existing transit jobs and help others enter into the labour market through the more efficient and reliable transit.
What leadership skills could you bring to city hall?
My leadership style is collaborative; I always meet people where they are and ask what they need. I believe in strategies informed by what community members see as best for their ward. I am motivated and hard working and I inspire that energy in the groups I work with. I am unafraid of speaking up for what is right and I am a voice in the city that people turn to for advocacy. I consult with many business and educational institutions on equity policy and facilitate anti-oppression training for their members. I take the time to build relationships, find creative solutions to conflict, and to be transparent with people. These are all leadership skills that I have found necessary to the success of any group; this is no different for council and the work it wants to do for the city. I intend to apply these skills to ease residents ability to navigate the bureaucracy at city hall and make sure their views are accurately represented.
How would you bridge divides between Londoners?
I have long been involved in connecting Londoners and advocating for vulnerable communities. During my years at Western University I was involved in connecting students and Londoners through the Organizing Equality Student Coalition. I facilitated workshops on contentious issues and advocated with my fellow students and negotiated with the university to create a more inclusive environment for all students.
I was selected as one of the community champions and steering committee members that facilitated meetings to develop the city’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy (https://www.london.ca/city-hall/Civic-Administration/City-Management/Documents/CDIS-Strat-Draft.pdf). I engaged with 200 Londoners learned that we are engaged and want to be connected to each other, we just need the spaces to do so. The CDIS is meant to increase a municipal platform that dismantles oppression and increases municipal and individual capacity. The strategies developed support the necessary activities to create a diverse and inclusive community. By addressing and acknowledging our biases, we are closer to working with each other towards collective benefit. London is our home, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that all Londoners are represented and respected. I am committed to this strategy and I will continue to do this sort of work in the community to bridge divides between Londoners and work towards a #LondonTogether.
Who should have the final say in how London grows, city hall or developers?
We must engage citizens and ensure our government represents the people. Developers and business owners are an interest group and can contribute to the dialogue that would bring value to the discussion with Londoners, but they should not have the final say. Council is charged with ensuring there is balance between competing interests and priorities of diverse citizens for smart and sustainable growth.
What sets you apart from other candidates?
I am running because I know London has much potential and I can see us being a leader in our region. I believe in the capacity and value of each person in London to contribute to this vision. I have the fresh ideas, drive, vision, and determination to improve London and get Londoners to feel a sense of togetherness. My first-hand experience and connections to the communities across London have given me the skills to be an effective representative for Ward 12.
Ward 12 has a diverse and growing population. Having worked in the unique, racialized and marginalized communities that I am also from, I know that representing this population will require unique skill sets. One of these skills that sets me apart is being fluent in Arabic. This assists me in navigating and understanding the needs of residents because is the second most spoken language in the ward. I have seen the relief and appreciation on peoples faces when canvassing. To ensure we hear as much feedback as possible, we make sure to have volunteers with different language skills out with us each time we canvass because everyone deserves to have their voice heard. I am committed to magnifying each voice.