Why I Am Running - Letter to the editor, Centretown Buzz
On January 29, I announced that I am running for Ottawa city council in Somerset ward. Many have asked, “In the face of tough competition, why are you running?” Without question, defeating an incumbent, and taking on some worthwhile challengers, is an extremely difficult task.
But in my various community roles, particularly in my past role as President of Centretown Community Health Centre, people throughout this ward have been clear that as a city and community, we can do so much better. With a changing demographic, changing needs, and changing aspirations, people have repeated over and over that our downtown core has so much potential, but it’s a potential that is going largely untapped – in short, we’ve been too timid to embrace change. Yet change is what I do best – whether it was leading the successful fight against the downtown casino in 2013, leading the successful effort to redevelop Somerset House, leading the successful effort to expand CCHC, and so on, I’ve shown I just don’t talk about change, I get it done.
But what does change look like? First, we need to engage people in our ward on the decisions that impact them; engaged on important and sometimes difficult issues, and engaged not when decisions have already been made, but when they haven’t. Second, we need to strengthen key partnerships with the province, the NCC, the federal government, Gatineau, the voluntary sector, and the private sector to get things done, whether it’s to revitalize Sparks Street or Lebreton Flats, bring more festival to downtown, make better use of the Ottawa River area, or bring more amenities throughout Centretown. Third, we need more innovative, leading-edge thinking in how we tackle problems, particularly with regard to our built and our natural environment. Fourth, and most importantly, we need to create more vibrancy and livability in central Ottawa – people move downtown because they want experiences, and they want to connect with their community. With the right leadership, we can shake off the long-held stereotype of Ottawa as the city that fun forgot.
I know these may sound like overly vague, wishful thinking visions. On my website, www.jeff2014.ca, I identify some specific policies to show how these visions can be acted upon. But I also want to hear the ideas of people in the ward on how we can make these visions a reality. After all, community building should never be about “me”, it should be about “we”. I’ll present more of your specific ideas for change this summer.
I know change is difficult. People often prefer the known quantity over taking a chance on something new. But for those of you who agree that we can be so much more as a community, I’m asking that you look at my record of action, share with me your ideas, and with your support, there’s no question we can bring positive, results-based change to our community and our city.
Candidate, Somerset ward