You’ve heard about the front-runners, but what about the other 10 candidates for London mayor?
Four of London’s mayoral candidates have been dubbed the “front-runners” in the municipal election. Tanya Park, Paul Cheng, Paul Paolatto and Ed Holder have received the majority of the media’s attention leading up to the Oct 22 vote. But when you head to the polls there’ll be another 10 names on the ballot.
Here’s what the rest of the candidates had to say, when 980 CFPL asked how they’d address their top three concerns in London.
David Millie is a first-time candidate, who was born and raised in southwestern Ontario. He is in favour of supervised consumption facilities in London, and “believe[s] in following the experts and what they have to say.” Millie cites Chris Mackie, London and Middlesex’s medical officer of health, as having a “very well thought out” and “compassionate” approach towards addiction and the city’s opioid crisis.
Millie is a pro-BRT candidate, and says the contentious $500-million transit project is an “excellent plan.” When he goes door knocking, he encounters Londoners who admit to needing to do “more reading” and “more research.” Millie agrees bus rapid transit can be a “scary concept,” but also thinks a lot of people don’t understand how much it costs or how it’ll serve areas outside the main routes.
“It’s only going to cost $135 million out of our development charges,” he said. “People aren’t aware the other bus routes are going to be rejigged to take you to the BRT lines.”
He also believes cutting red tape at city hall will be beneficial to business startups and growth. Mille wants to bring someone into city hall who’ll act like a social worker for businesses, to help them navigate its bureaucracy.
“Your focus as a small business owner [is] on starting your business and making your bankroll. You don’t need to be concerned about how does city hall do its business,” he said.
This is Dan Lenart‘s third time running for mayor of London. He studied at both Western University and Fanshawe College and has worked in social services for more than 30 years with a focus on crisis management and mental health. He believes revitalizing the downtown core starts by addressing homelessness and drug use.
“People that are downtown, just sort of hanging out with no place to go, and are a bit of an eyesore to people? They need programs and places to go.” Those could be diversion programs or coffee houses, he explained.
The “thorniest” issue in London, for Lenart, is the lack of affordable housing. He says there are around 5,000 people on a wait list for homes through the London Middlesex Housing Corporation, and feels that some projects the city is working on are “maybe a bit frivolous.”
Lenart wants attention redirected towards the issue of public housing, which the LMHC has said it would need more than $223 million to maintain for five years.
“Would Londoners consent to having their property taxes raised for that figure?” Lenart asked. “It’s that serious, and that would only take a bit of a dent for what’s needed.”
Lenart also takes issue with plans to expand Gateway Casino’s operations at the Western Fair District.
“That would prey on the most vulnerable, and would make things worse, breaking up families and increasing suicide rates,” he said.
Sean O’Connell was born and raised in London and spent a few years working as a parliamentary officer in the U.K. House of Commons before moving back in 2012. His top priority is moving forward with bus rapid transit.
“If we can’t get people from Point A to Point B, whether it’s for work or goods and services, how can we expect people to make investments in town?” O’Connell said the plan is already in place, and “political will” is needed to push it through and make sure it’s “implemented and managed” properly.
O’Connell wants to address the social housing crisis by securing federal dollars from the National Housing Strategy.
“I know as a municipality, we’re going to be fighting with other municipalities to get the funding,” he said. “The sooner we get a more comprehensive plan to address the social housing gap, the better.”
O’Connell also supports the idea of supervised consumption sites because “they save lives.” He said he’s been attending committee and full council meetings at city hall twice a week for the past six months and feels he understands both support and opposition for the controversial facilities.
“I don’t condone drug use … but that’s my choice. Not somebody else’s choice. And what we’re trying to do is set up a comprehensive site, so if they’re on drugs, hopefully, they’ll get off drugs.”
Nina McCutcheon says her experience living in poverty makes her a good candidate to become London’s next mayor. Her prime concern is changing the rules for who is expected to pay back debt.
“Legislation laws need a bit of a twisting and change concerning people who live on the streets and have landlord neglect issues concerning arrears costs,” she said. “People are left on the streets with no income and no way to pay their arrears costs. I would like to make a change in London, Ontario, concerning that legislation law and bring forth a new law that will indicate they need to be inside of housing, in order to pay those arrears costs.”
McCutcheon also wants to develop a “proper treatment plan” that’ll provide people with a single place to get off drugs, pursue an education, get jobs and “move on to better, healthier lives.” She wants to use land previously home to the London Psychiatric Hospital to create this space.
When it comes to bus rapid transit, McCutcheon believes it’s an essential part of the future for London, but the city has “other things to deal with” including upgrades to public housing offered through London Middlesex Housing Corporation.
Vahide Bahramporian says he grew up in Montreal, but has lived in London for about 20 years. He says he’s been trying to help his community all his life and is concerned about the health and safety of Londoners. He describes the city’s bus rapid transit plan as a “huge mistake,” and believes there are other ways to relieve traffic congestion.
“We might not even need public transit,” he said. But if London does need a public transportation system — he’s eyeing something more modern, like a sky train. “Something we don’t have to upgrade, as soon as it’s finished.”
Bahramporian believes issues of poverty and drug use can be attributed to a lack of opportunity.
“If we can approve that one thing, and one thing alone, then a lot of burden will be emptied from our shoulders.” He wants to help people become self-sufficient, and find the jobs they’ve been dreaming off.
“Those people are not going to need affordable housing, because they’ll be able to afford the housing.” He wants to create equal opportunities for all Londoners.
Bahramporian also wants to secure provincial and federal funding for housing, noting the more than $223 million the London Middlesex Housing Corporation has asked for to maintain its operations in the city.
“They’re a great corporation,” he said. “Problem is, they’re not being given a lot to work with.”
Mohamed Moussa was born and raised in London, and studied both medicine and law at Western University. He owns property downtown and has a farm on the outskirts of the city. He says affordable housing needs to be addressed by making sure Londoners can afford to pay rent.
“We need to be working a little bit more with the private sector on that because it’s the only way we’re going to do it. The municipality can’t afford to continue to spend tax money on doing it ourselves.”
When it comes to bus rapid transit, Moussa notes the “majority of Londoners don’t want” the plan as it’s been presented. He said Londoners are being consulted on cosmetic issues like what bus shelters look like now, but could have been looped into the conversation years ago.
“We’ve been working on this for 12 or 14 years, and the populace of London has not been consulted on it until recently.” Moussa adds he’s not worried about the impact of construction so much as being worried how reducing traffic to one lane in the core would stop people coming downtown.
Moussa also wants people to “pay as much attention” to how they vote on individual ward councillors, instead of focusing on the mayoral race alone.
“None of us can make any promises without having an agreeable council,” he said. “You’re going to have a lot more access to [your ward councillor] than you may possibly have to the mayor.”
Jordan Minter laid out his top concerns in an email to 980 CFPL, the first of which is dirty needles. Minter says he has a detailed plan to offer incentives like water, juice, food, or even vouchers for clothing that would encourage the use of existing supervised consumption and needle exchange programs.
“If you get money back for returning beer bottles, why not something similar for needles? The idea would not be to encourage people to pick up dirty needles but rather to discourage them from throwing them away in the first place,” he writes.
When it comes to affordable housing, Minter says there are plenty of empty buildings in the downtown core and “it seems odd to me that the city says we do not have the space.”
He also said human trafficking and drug-related gang violence should be put ahead of London’s bus rapid transit project.
“People are being killed and going missing,” he writes. “I would hire or fund any additional support that our police force requires to deal with these awful problems.”
Jonas White describes himself as a “cannabis-friendly businessman.” He believes if he’s at London’s helm, the city could take advantage of marijuana legalization.
“We can bring a lot of tourism here, and create a lot of jobs. This is a new industry, and I feel it’s kind of being done wrong.” White worries that if legalization is done wrong, London will miss out on “all the benefits and potential.”
White is not in favour of bus rapid transit, noting a preference for LRT, trams, or trains instead.
He also believes there’s a need for a permanent supervised consumption facility in London, and hopes to see “a few mobile units” too. He notes that London is developing a reputation across Ontario for public drug consumption, needle waste, and overdose deaths.
“We have to act because people need help,” he said. “I think the big end game there is London having its own rehab facility, more beds in mental health wards to deal with this.”
There are two other candidates for mayor. Ali Hamadi did not respond to 980 CFPL’s interview request. Carlos Murray was unavailable for an interview before the time of publication.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.