A long overdue campaign update
Happy Sunday morning everyone,!
I have a few minutes while my kids are eating their traditional Sunday morning big hot breakfast and watching cartoons before we start our day, so it's a perfect time for a long overdue campaign update.
Photo slideshow highlights:
We marched in the Pride London Parade with the rest of the Dad Club London team. As you can see, myself and my giant kids were still too big for the biggest space suits we could find.
We made the best of my now 9 year's old big birthday present - Shawn Mendes tickets that ended up being canceled the day after her birthday, and went to Toronto anyways and hit up the Science Centre and legoland
I've been meeting with tons of community leaders and experts. Taking a bike ride with Andrew Hunniford, the manager of London Bicycle Cafe was especially illuminating, as I saw first hand just how unsafe it is to ride a bicycle in our city, and heard first hand the challenges to investing in and running a business in London as well. I've also met with experts in transit and housing/development, with meetings to come with experts in diversity, homelessness, accessibility, policing, gender based violence, downtown London, and city hall and unionized staffing. I'm more than words. But I also stink at "let's take a photo for social media", because that's not why I do things.
Mayor Holder and Councillor Hamou attended the grand opening of The PATCH, a project that I've been helping to get off the ground alongside some incredibly talented and caring individuals. Seeing first hand what the support of London Community Foundation, the caring of Nathan Deslippe's family. and the effort of engaged people can lead to has been tremendous.
My outreach has and will continue when it comes to problem solving and assisting others. I don't publicize the things that happen daily, but Kevin was ruminating on the personal financial challenge of being a Little Library Owner and keeping it stocked. I love books and libraries and building community, and know someone with a book warehouse. I reached out to him and ended up connecting him and Kevin for all the free books Kevin could handle. Shout out to Gerald and Jessica at Discount Books London Ontario - you guys are awesome. Since Kevin shared the help I offered, I am happy to acknowledge it here.
Now onto the meat and potatoes of why you're here, the campaign updates: Some big things have happened since I last checked in.
The first one being that the campaign fundraising has been successful enough to begin living one of the important values of my platform, which is to improve quality of life and address the high cost of living for all.
As a city, we can do a lot in this area. We need more income options that pay more people more money for their time, and to stop driving up costs though poor planning and passing them along to the taxpayer base.
As a candidate, I can continue to do things that are under my control in present day, which include keeping all of my campaign dollars local and spending them on and with people who are struggling, or up and coming. My fundraising is far from maxed out, and continues to be available through this link. With that said, I have hired a campaign manager and. I pay her (not enough) for her time. I also have hired people to help in areas like graphic design and social media and video production, and am paying them for their efforts, as "exposure" doesn't pay rent or put food on the table.
Jo-Dee Phoenix is my campaign manager. She has some political campaigning experience, but she also has over 20 years of high level organizational and leadership experience, plus education in HR and Law. She has led unions and managed local small business operations. She has volunteered extensively at the grassroots level in areas including housing advocacy and supporting people with disabilities. As a grandmother who took time off from working to support her young sons and their new families, she also is facing stigma in returning to the workforce and being paid for her time in a meaningful role that also works for her personal and family life. I'm here to collaborate with and fight for people like Jo-Dee, and I am honoured to have her running my campaign team.
My campaign team is being advised by a team of six political experts, ranging from previous and current elected officials to former campaign managers who are too tied up with personal life to do more than help when they can. Their inputs and strategy have been greatly appreciated.
Communications are being supported by some talented local designers and content creators who are fairly new graduates and trying to navigate the workforce in lower paying entry level jobs while also facing student debt and incredibly expensive inflation-driven cost of living. A quick and immediate way to help that? Give them more money. I'm happy to share my campaign dollars with Natasha and Emily. If you want their contact details, let me know.
My t-shirts are from Ward 11 company Source Teamworks, and an incredible deal for being locally designed and printed. If you need apparel, reach out and ask for Alex. On the ground, our team is MASSIVE, and will be hard to miss for the residents of Ward 11. We have room for more helpers, and are trying to blanket the Ward as many times as we can between now and Election Day. If you'd like to join my campaign team and engage in huge opportunities to network and make a difference at the grassroots level, send me a note through my website form. My team ranges from political aficionados to small business owners to healthcare workers and grassroots frontline social service providers and everything in between. "If you already have a lot of volunteers, why do you need more?" You're probably wondering.
I need a massive team, as my wife is a front line healthcare worker and is gone 12 hours at a time and we don't have the grandparents and other childcare options available to us that most others do. I can drag my kids around with me when my wife is working, but they deserve to have a fun summer too. As employees funded by the public sector and with our wages capped, I need to be mindful of paying for childcare to go campaign if there are other options. We work both smarter and harder than the average in order to make it work with what we have. Having as many volunteers as we can get will let us best leverage the time we do have.
In the work I've done so far, I am receiving an incredible amount of feedback and am already building quite the task list of things to look into once elected. Ward 11 residents have been very friendly and forthcoming so far in my interactions with them. People that I've spoken with have often reported worrying about the safety of themselves and their children, from both bad drivers and bad people alike.
Business owners report that it has been incredibly difficult to thrive, given their goals and dreams and plans vs their operating environment to do so. People want to safely ride their bikes and let their kids play in the street like they used to as kids. They want to know that they will be able to pay their bills and have opportunities to advance their careers in London, and won't have to move to Kitchener-Waterloo or the GTA for bigger and better opportunities. People want to know that their kids will have trees and grass and clean air to enjoy when they grow up too. People of Ward 11 don't want to feel like they're forced to drive cars they can't afford because they can't otherwise live the life they need to live on the schedule they need to live it.
People who don't have powerful friends or fancy job titles want to feel like their opinions and thoughts and wants and needs matter too. I'm the everyday person who cares about these things too, is approachable, listens, asks questions, and follows up and follows through. Lastly, I am not one for complaining, but will quickly provide clarity on two points of contention that have arisen:
#1 - Most of the people I know and collaborate with on a daily basis are not political in nature, so I would like to quickly explain the broad strokes of municipal vs provincial and federal elections/politics:
Some of my friends it turns out hadn't donated to my campaign under the assumption that my fund-raising was automatic and provided to me.
Federal and provincial elections are party-driven, and people who believe in political parties back their candidates, and have organizations that back whatever candidate is running for that party. They also get tax receipts for donations. Municipal elections aren't party-driven, can't offer tax receipts to donors, and their candidates are paid about ~50% of what a provincial representative is paid upon winning. Campaigning is grassroots, and donations come from goodwill and personal support and belief in someone's individual ability to make a difference.
A long time friend was surprised to hear that I am doing this entirely on my own, and was interested to learn the differences between the election that finished this Spring and the one to come. Many people truly hav no idea.
#2 - I'm not a Conservative. I'm not a Conservative. I'M NOT A CONSERVATIVE.
I am someone who has always been values-driven, and can build consensus across diverse backgrounds.
I started voting in 2003, and voted Liberal provincially and federally up until 2018 when I decided it was time to take a break in light of the SNC-Lavalin scandal and how Judy Wilson Raybould was treated, along with my experience as a Healthcare Worker under Kathleen Wynne, married to another HCW and in constant never ending fear of my job.
I voted NDP at that point.
I've donated to and previously purchased a now expired membership to the PC party to support a specific friend who asked for it, while also being a card carrying registered NDP member at the same time.
After events that happened to me personally in 2020, I have become even more disillusioned with party politics, and continue to donate across the spectrum to strong candidates in all major parties.
My votes do and will go each election to the candidate that has the most realistic plan for the most impactful change on the local level in the areas that matter the most to me. My personal donations, including political, can be found here.
I view myself as slightly left of centre, and look forward to continuing strong relationships existing with almost all local elected officials, and building ones that do not currently exist.
If the most difficult thing I have to encounter on this campaign trail is the narrative of me being a conservative in a strong liberal/NDP riding, then I am a lucky candidate.
I've grown up in poverty/abuse/trauma, and continue to live a very average standard of living as the employee of a local charity that donates just about all of their extra money and free time to those who are worse off than I. 2SLGBTQIA+ rights, protecting the environment, and freedom to choose will continue to be central tenets to my being, and aren't negotiable.
I can work with anyone who shares common ground with me, and everyone who knows me offline has seen it in action. Thanks for reading and as always please send me an email or reach out through social media if you would like to connect and chat London or Ward 11.
You will be impressed at the new standard that I plan to set and maintain in terms of a responsive and engaged and accountable city councillor.
Ward 11 and our city both deserve it.