The London Free Press Questionnaire Answers - September, 2018
1. The basics:
a) Age: 32
b) Occupation: Civil Litigation Lawyer at Cohen Highley LLP, Chair of the Thames Valley District School Board
c) Family: Live in London with my partner Correy
2. What’s the most pressing problem you’d tackle, if elected?
I’ll leave the BRT issue to the next question and say the second most pressing problem in the city is the opioid crisis and the need for better supports such as the supervised injection sites. The addiction problems in the city are affecting businesses, employees and most importantly families in this city. We need to work towards having a permanent site as quickly as possible.
3. Do you support the current BRT plan, yes or no?
No. I support better transit and there are aspects of the current plan I support – such as the automated traffic monitoring that re-routes congested areas, and expanding the roads to have longer turning lanes to avoid congestion. However, items such as the bus rapid transit lanes are clearly not supported by a majority of Londoners and we need to consult with people to look at what aspects need to be changed in order to get the support of London. While I do not support the current plan, I want to work to make positive changes that will help us move forward as quickly as possible.
4. What leadership skills could you bring to city hall?
As the chair of the Thames Valley District School Board, I work with my Trustee colleagues to help govern and set the policy oversight for the school board. With a budget of $975 million dollars, over 8,200 employees and over 78,000 students, I have the experience of running large organizations that are diverse and complex.
I am a strong believer that teamwork is the way to succeed in politics. For the last 5 years I have worked with my team of trustees to make innovation and diversity our school board’s strengths.
I also have a track record of being involved with various charities in different leadership capacities in order to give back to our community and help those that are less fortunate.
5. How would you bridge divides between Londoners?
Through mutual respect and teamwork I think City Hall can accomplish a lot. I have worked with many of the current counsellors in my past roles and I recognize while we may not agree on every item, we must find common ground in order to affect the change that we want in the city. I do not think the divisions in the past on council have been helpful in helping to move the city forward, and it’s important that councilors are open minded and listen to all sides of an issue before voting.
6. Which past or present city councillor would you hope to emulate?
I have a lot of respect for past councilors such as Joni Baechler, especially when she stepped into the mayor’s role for the last 6 months of the term in a very difficult environment. I think Joni was able to rise to the challenge and help bridge the divides on counsel leading up to the election when the city needed it the most. Regardless if you support her positions on various votes, her tenacity and intellect has been a rare gift to the citizens of London.
7. Who should have the final say in how London grows, city hall or developers?
City Hall definitely needs to have the final say. Developers are part of the process and obviously want to get a project moving quickly and as cost effectively as possible, but it’s important to have City Council be the final body that keeps the needs of Londoners front and center.
I have been frustrated in the past that the Ontario Municipal Board has been so frequent in overturning City Council decisions, particularly when the OMB are political appointments from Queens Park, not elected officials. We must work with the Provincial Government to ensure local decisions are respected and given deference.
8. What sets you apart from other candidates?
I have had unique experiences that would prepare me for City Council. In my current role with the school board I work with all levels of government and local politicians on a regional level and have learned a great deal in the process.
Whether it is labour negotiations, budget deliberations or setting wide ranging policies, my experience in being Chair of a Billion Dollar organization is something I want to bring to City Hall to ensure we are more collaborative and community oriented.