There are over 240 candidates for councillor across the city, a staggering number for only 44 seats. Some wards have double digit candidates that will being out canvassing to show why they are the best choice for council.
My recent canvassing of Ward 3 residents has been a positive experience. I've been congratulated for my effort as a resident of the ward to represent our community. I've also been told that all politicians (including candidates) are all corrupt and cannot be trusted; to which I vehemently disagree. The two extreme opinions are examples of why voters may feel disengaged. Residents simply want a representative that leads with integrity. With voter turnout in our ward at 53.84% for the 2010 election, many residents simply just don't feel a part in the process.
This election is very important for the future of Toronto and our community within Etobicoke. Decisions on spending or saving, transit expansion and infrastructure maintenance will need to be made. Residents worry about access to facilities, the conditions of our roads and the long transit trips to their jobs or schools. All are important issues that will be addressed in the lead-up to the election in October.
All candidates across the city will speak of integrity, the need for change and how they are the right choice. Change is hard when incumbents have a 90% rate of being voted back into their position since 2003. Incumbents speak of experience as their reasoning for being re-elected. Haven't we experienced a council in distress for the past four years?! I believe all candidates in our ward will serve with integrity, it doesn't need to be said, it should be expected.
Residents are bombarded with political literature, each an introduction to the candidates. Literature from mayoral candidates, council candidates and also trustee candidates. The whole process is mind-boggling and only exacerbates voter fatigue.
Fatigue also comes from partisan politics within Toronto City Council. There are no official political parties within municipal politics, it is one of the reasons why the election is so long. It allows residents who hope to represent their community a chance to engage the ward. It is hard to swallow when a candidate speaks of partisan politics and political decisions at city hall and then promotes the endorsement from members of a political party. It is disingenuous and has been a point brought to my attention by a resident who handed me an opponent's literature.
I am not endorsed by a political party; my support and donations have come from supporters of all parties (Liberals, Conservatives and NDP). This is a point of pride for me; my ability to bring policies that are right for the community that the majority can support.
There are currently 7 candidates running in Ward 3 and I can say I have not heard much policy from many of my opponents. Catch phrases and vague outlines for what they support are some of the only content on their websites. I have set out with policy as the vision of my campaign. Policy matters, policy is the change we need. Not all of my policies are listed online as my opponents are now promoting similar policies I listed back in March. Directing the conversation is important; listening to resident's ideas is more important. Many residents at the door have been receptive to my policies I will attempt to implement once elected that are not listed online. It has led to different ways to view our community, our transit system and of course the duties of council.
Bullet point politics has been around for as long as I can remember. Residents want information to base their decisions on, they have asked my views on many policies I have stated on my website. They have also brought up problems that I was not aware but wrote down to discuss with my policy team. The problems and the solutions will not come solely from a Councillor, that would exclude community input which is vital. Some residents don't agree with my policies but will 'keep an eye on me' for being open and honest for what I believe before deciding who they vote for councillor.
Take a moment and examine all the candidates in your ward. What are their policies and who do they represent? I hope that once you compare the differences, I can count on your support by volunteering or donating to a campaign that can make a difference in our ward.