Election Reflection

 Day 1 of the campaign, May 2018

Day 1 of the campaign, May 2018

We’re in the home stretch of the 2018 municipal election. In only five days I will be going to the polls and voting for myself!

I have yet to figure out a word that captures the emotion(s) that being on the ballot brings up for me. I most definitely haven’t been able to name what it feels like knowing that others will vote for me because they think I’m the right person for the job.

It might take some getting out of the weeds of this election campaign to put my finger on that word, but I know it will come as I continue to reflect on and learn from what has been one of the most invigorating and challenging experiences of my professional life.

While I don’t have that specific word at the moment, I certainly have a more firm grasp on some of the other areas of learning and growth I have experienced, some of which I also talk about during my interview with Hannah Marie. Let me share some of those reflections now.

People in Ward 5

For the most part, we are (seen as) a quiet ward. The quiet can be good thing – we have cozy nooks amidst mature trees, as well as established neighbourhoods where neighbours get along.

Still, there are people here who want to make some more noise – they want more attention and opportunities for Ward 5, and they also want to have more of a say in development projects, traffic calming measures and policies, and in how their neighbourhoods evolve.

I am so excited by the advocacy efforts Ward 5 residents have led, as well as the passion with which people in the ward talk about the issues that matter to them.

Public and outgoing

As a community developer, researcher, and social worker I bring different people and perspectives together to move ideas into action. In this work it helps that I am outgoing.

Being outgoing, I anticipated the transition to becoming a local political candidate would be pretty comfortable. I have learned, though, that this transition into public life wasn’t as straightforward as I expected.

As a politician most everything I say and do is up for the public to see and comment on. Indeed, it should be. We should expect our politicians to be responsive, open, and ready to handle tough conversations about the decisions they make, interpersonal misunderstandings, and the values they hold.

Even though public life has been an adjustment, it has also been a great honour to put my values out there for all to see. I have the support of Women’s March Canada, have been endorsed by the Waterloo Regional Labour Council, and have responded to numerous surveys that I am sharing as blog posts.

Poverty

Waterloo, for the most part, is doing well. We are a prosperous and growing community with a vibrant tech sector, pockets of beautiful green space, a solid arts and culture scene, and more. Yet, we still have areas of poverty and areas of wealth, even in Ward 5.

The majority (more than 60%) of households with an income under $30,000 are on the west side of the expressway (Statistics Canada data). Ward five has the expressway running through the middle of it.

At the individual level, we need to explore the possibility of establishing a local community space/centre in lower-income areas (e.g., around Lincoln/Bluevale). At a bigger level, let’s push for mixed-income housing, including the amenities that are needed to do that well, and undertake beautifying efforts to existing affordable housing.


Thank you, for reading this and for the opportunity to put my name forward to represent Ward 5 in Waterloo.

Jen VasicComment