My Reason For Running – A Ripple of Hope

Originally posted on May 5 2021.

As I shared with those Londoners who considered my candidacy for Mayor nearly three years ago, I have a passion to serve our community.   I am at a place in my life where I believe my skills and operating experience can be of significant benefit to our provincial government as it begins to turn its attention towards rebuilding our economy and restoring the public services our citizens should expect and deserve.

I am also motivated by the many challenges before us:

  • large segments of our economy including many small businesses and our hospitality sector, that are still reeling from the pandemic,
  • increasing disparity between wealthy households and those just getting by,
  • a city that is finding itself increasingly isolated and less relevant on the national stage,
  • neighbourhoods feeling less safe,
  • a downtown struggling to restore its vitality,
  • young people seeking the means to fulfill their dreams.

Perhaps the biggest motivation for me is best reflected in the words of Robert Francis Kennedy, the politician I most admired as a youth and the one who inspired me to seek public office.

Kennedy’s personal style really resonated with me.  He was confident, intelligent, charismatic, and a brilliant orator.  Yet he also exhibited an ease and humility about him, especially around people struggling to make ends meet.  He did not apologize for his privilege.  He leveraged it to help others.  He demonstrated empathy when needed, and firmness when required.  Above all he expressed himself in a manner that inspired you, that empowered you, that made you feel like you mattered and can make a difference if you are willing to step up.

In my opinion, Kennedy’s most inspirational words came in April 1966 during his tour in South Africa, where, at the height of apartheid, he was invited to speak to a gathering of students at the University of Cape Town. The speech became known as the Ripple of Hope and in it,  Kennedy said:

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

It is that Ripple of Hope that drives my passion for office.  A passion to represent those Londoners whose voices are not heard or well-represented – workers, retirees, young families, small business owners, taxpayers – who toil every day without complaint, who support not more government intrusion but enablement,  who seek not more public funding or “free programs”; just a fair shake at realizing their dreams.

Our city, our province and our country have a unique opportunity to emerge from the pandemic stronger and more vibrant than ever.  We have an opportunity to join with other leaders  throughout the region to create real and lasting change in our community  – in our economy, in our classrooms, in our hospitals, in our neighbourhoods.

I would like to be your agent of change, your voice at Queen’s Park, and your representative at the government table.  I have the skills, experience and above all the passion to make a noticeable difference in how London is perceived and received on the national and international stage.

Above all, I welcome the opportunity to serve, to send forth that Ripple of Hope and with grace, make a difference in the lives of our community,  our province and our nation.

I welcome your support.

Municipal Election ’22 – My Council Recommendations

In preparing the following recommendations I met with a number of the candidates, both new and incumbents, to better understand their motivation for running and objectives for the next term in office.  In the course of our conversations, I sought to measure each candidate against five attributes that I believe will be of value to the next Council team.   The attributes are:

  • A sincere passion for our city
  • Business and community credentials
  • A pragmatic, informed approach to decision-making
  • A focus on outcomes over optics
  • Exceptional work ethic

In each case, the recommended candidate expressed both a strong desire and capability to support our residents, work collaboratively, and pour the necessary energy into our city to restore its prominence in the region.

I have divided the list into the ‘Keepers’ or incumbents that I would like to see re-elected and the ‘Prospects’, a select group of Londoners who I believe will greatly improve the collective decision-making ability and work intensity of our civic leadership.

The Keepers

Mayor – Josh Morgan was the first Councillor to endorse me for Mayor in 2018, and now four years later, I am pleased to return this favour.  Josh is undoubtedly the strongest choice for Mayor in this race.  His knowledge of civic affairs, and ability to work thoughtfully, strategically and collaboratively across a range of diverse issues makes him the most logical candidate to assume Council’s leadership role.

Ward 1 (Hamilton Road, Glen Cairn, Fairmont) – While I often find Michael Van Holst’s positions and approach puzzling and at times even irritating, I do like that he is a contrarian, unyielding to ‘group think’ and willing to ask the tough questions of staff that so often go unasked at Council.

Ward 2 (Argyle, Crumlin) – Shawn Lewis is arguably London’s toughest political leader, one who relentlessly represents his ward and area businesses exceedingly well.  Shawn makes the tough, pragmatic decisions necessary to deliver quality services without bleeding the taxpayer dry.

Ward 6 (Old North, Oxford Park, Cherryhill) – In her short tenure, Mariam Hamou has emerged as a strong voice for both her ward and racialized Londoners.  A passionate community leader with an extensive record of volunteerism, Mariam is another pragmatic council member that will continue to serve London taxpayers well.

Ward 8 (Oakridge, Hunt Club) – In just one term, Steve Lehman has drawn upon his extensive business credentials to assume a prominent and influential role around the council horseshoe.  He prioritizes well, collaborates effectively, and focuses on constructive outcomes that benefit our entire community.

Ward 10 (Westmount) – As he has over his previous four council terms, Paul Van Meerbergen continues to garner a reputation as a ruthless protector of the taxpayer who focuses on the municipality’s role as a provider of core civic services.  His unyielding commitment to the taxpayer would be most welcome again should voters finally demand that Council rein in spending.

Ward 12 (White Oaks, Highland) – Much like Councillor Lewis, Elizabeth Peloza has been most effective balancing the need to address pressing social issues in our community without recklessly spending public funds.  Elizabeth has her priorities straight and does not yield to pressure from colleagues if she believes in a certain cause or funding approach.

Ward 13 (Downtown, Woodfield, Blackfriars) – London’s core would benefit greatly by continuing to support John Fyfe-Millar’s candidacy.  John is a highly effective listener that has done an excellent job balancing the needs of our downtown business community and local builders seeking greater intensification with those advocating the protection of neighbourhoods and green spaces.  The fact that he both lives and works in the downtown core is an added bonus.

 Ward 14 (Pond Mills, Old Victoria) – I have always appreciated Steven Hillier’s approach to his council role.  Steven is neither pretentious nor showy.  He listens well, does his homework and makes practical decisions that benefit both his ward and the city.

The Prospects

Ward 3 (Huron Heights, Airport) Peter Cuddy is the first of five small business owners that I am recommending for Council.  Peter holds a Masters degree in business (MBA) and has served as Public School Trustee over the past four years.  Peter is a good listener and someone who is prepared to make tough choices to protect taxpayers.

Ward 4 (Carling Heights, Old East Village) I believe that Susan Stevenson will be a rock star on the next Council.  She is a professional accountant (CPA) with strong critical thinking skills and a penchant for doing her homework. Intelligent and well spoken, Susan would be a superb representative of both her ward and our city.

Ward 5 (Masonville, Stoney Creek, Northridge,) Jerry Pribil is another small business owner among the prospects with an MBA.  Jerry has amassed an impressive career both here and abroad, providing Council with street-smarts and grit.  Jerry is authentic as they come and will work his butt off for our city.

Ward 7 (Hyde Park, Sunningdale)  Tommy Caldwell is another, MBA-educated, successful businessman who I believe would make a very positive contribution to the next Council.  Tommy is venturing into politics because he, like many Londoners, wants to see Council focus more on business development, public safety and offering quality services at a manageable cost.  Tommy would be an outstanding addition to the team.

Ward 9 (Byron, Riverbend, Lambeth) As a Ward 9 resident, I am incredibly enthusiastic to be endorsing Mario Jozic for Council.  Mario is yet another small business owner who first secured a post-graduate degree in Economics before opening his downtown business.  He is smart, thorough and tough – someone who will listen actively, do the work and make thoughtful decisions. Ward 9 residents would be wise to send him to City Council.

Ward 11 (Old South, Manor Park, Southcrest) Without a doubt, Jeremy McCall, if elected, would be one of the most endearing members of the new council.  I have never met a more authentic, caring individual, who pours his heart into any undertaking he assumes.  Jeremy exhibits exceptional leadership skills and will definitely work harder than anyone to help our community.

Regardless of your agreement or disagreement with those listed above, I encourage everyone to learn what they can about each candidate and make an informed decision at the ballot box.  A famous novelist once wrote – “Power is given only to those who dare to lower themselves and pick it up.”  Right now Londoners have the power to affect the change they want to see, if only they are prepared to pick it up.

Finally, I want to wish all of the candidates the best in this election and extend to them my sincere appreciation and admiration for letting their names stand in service to our city.   Regardless of the outcome, their efforts in coming forward are most deserving of our recognition and respect.