If you’re not talking poverty issues, then re-think your campaign platform

Can’t say we’ve seen any reference to this in campaign literature, so the relevance of a poverty survey is timely as the Oct. 27 municipal election looms.
While candidates dwell on jobs and the economy, the impact of job losses and the proliferation of low-paying, part-time jobs needs to be front and centre on the campaign trail.
Bridges Out of Poverty St. Thomas- Elgin is asking candidates to respond to a poverty-focused survey launched this week. All candidates have been contacted regarding the initiative.
The online survey is part of a collaborative local/provincial project coordinated by the Ontario Society of Nutrition Professionals in Public Health and administered by local partners such as Bridges Out of Poverty.
“The purpose of the project is to build awareness and support among decision makers for healthy public policy which assists in reducing poverty and food insecurity in Ontario,” writes Erin Woolley, Bridges Out of Poverty coordinator.

The survey of St. Thomas and Elgin municipal candidates is part of a larger project involving 15 communities across the province. The results of the local survey will be posted Oct. 7 on the Bridges Out of Poverty website at endpovertyinelgin.com/vote2014.

Bridges out of Poverty coordinator, Erin Woolley.

Bridges Out Of Poverty coordinator, Erin Woolley.

“One in five children in Elgin and St. Thomas live in poverty,” advises Ken Brooks, executive director of the Elgin Oxford Legal Clinic and Bridges Out of Poverty chairman.
“That is over 4,100 children. Families in our community are struggling. They are having to make decisions on whether to pay the hydro or to purchase food.
“Close to 16% of families in St. Thomas and Elgin are living in poverty,” Brooks continues. “As a result, some residents can’t afford basic needs, including nutritious food — negatively affecting their health and limiting their ability to contribute to healthy, vibrant communities.
Those are alarming statistics and while some St. Thomas candidates continue to run fast and loose with facts and figures, dig up dirt on each other via social media and flaunt promises upon which they can’t possibly deliver, the constituents they propose to serve are going hungry.
Candidates, take another look at your platform. Are you devoting a portion of your energy and resources to those who are struggling in your community? At the very least, participate in the online survey.
It was developed by an independent consultant based on a review of municipal programs and policies related to poverty reduction. Revised locally, it asks candidates to respond to questions and provide input on the municipality’s role in poverty reduction and related programming.
We’ll document the survey results here.

Aldermanic candidate Gary Clarke sends us an email noting he will be supporting Steve Barber’s Believe Army Walkathon at Pinafore Park today to raise money for ALS patient care and research.
14 jt 03 clarkejpg
Registration is at 10 a.m. and the walk itself starts at 11a.m.
On Oct. 18, continues Clarke, the St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital Foundation will host their gala CASO Royale Casino Night, with all proceeds funding a new, 3D mammogram machine.
Call 519-631-2030, ext. 2246 for tickets. You can meet up with him to discuss his platform and support the hospital.

The St. Thomas Kinsmen are hosting a meeting on Wednesday, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Wellington St.
An invitation has been extended to all aldermanic and mayoral candidates, Kinsmen, Kinettes, Lions, Rotary, Optimists, Knights of Columbus and the general public to meet and find out how all the candidates plan to work with local service clubs to promote and improve the community.
For more information, contact Matt Sharpe at president@stthomaskinsmen or call 519-495-2818.

A reader wonders why she is not allowed to post certain information on the Facebook sites, Speak up St. Thomas and So you want to be a St. Thomas Councillor.
She is attempting to post the attendance record for two committees, but feels she is being censored as it does not shed a good light on mayoral candidate, Mark Cosens.
She suggests those who administer the sites are being pressured to block her.
“I am not slandering or using profanity, yet they will not allow any facts re: attendance,” she notes in her email.
“I posted the attendance for the site plan and skate board meetings.”
As noted here last week, the attendance record for the latter committee was spotty at best on the part of council’s representatives, aldermen Cosens, Lori Baldwin-Sands and Tom Johnston.
Matters escalated to the point Johnston resigned from all committees he sat on “due to the consistent and ongoing interference by Ald. Baldwin-Sands. . . . This has created a very dysfunctional atmosphere at many committees I sit on.”
Knowing this information, what is wrong with posting attendance records for all committees? We’re willing to post them here as the desire to attend committee meetings certainly is a factor to be taken into account when filling out a ballot on Oct. 27.

Are all of the aldermanic and mayoral candidates willing and able to attend committee meetings, in light of the fact the greater percentage of them are held during business hours?
This is one of the commitments you have to make when seeking public office. Your responsibility doesn’t end at showing up for three council meetings a month.
Seems this might be a stumbling block for several hopefuls.

“Political campaigns are about disinformation, who can yell inaccuracies loudest.”
Bob Lefsetz, a former entertainment business attorney and now music industry analyst and critic.

City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to ian.mccallum@sunmedia.ca.

One thought on “If you’re not talking poverty issues, then re-think your campaign platform

  1. While I agree it’s important for elected officials to show up for committee meetings, more is required than a warm body in a chair. While I’ve not attended skate park related meetings, I’ve been at others where elected officials attended but were otherwise engaged on their tablets or smartphones and contributed little or nothing.

    As for a dysfunctional atmosphere, I see a couple of possible main issues:
    – Lack of a main purpose, goal, or mission for the committee, stated at every meeting that discussions, recommendations, and decisions are based on.
    – The wrong people on the committee who don’t understand or agree with the reasons they’re there or have their own unrelated agenda.
    – Lack of control of the meeting to keep discussions on track.
    – Lack of transparency; committee meetings are open to the public but are not advertised. They should be advertised, data shared about attendance, cancelled meetings, attach info on how to apply for a committee, and rules on who can vote. Publish reports on data collected, recommendations made and why, and what the city’s decisions are and why. When decisions are made, city residents and stakeholders deserve to know how conclusions are reached. Are they evidence based? What did they consider?
    – I’d like to see more public participation and for the city to find ways to facilitate that and other stakeholder meetings.
    – Why do some committees have Facebook pages and publicized missions while others don’t or are not permitted to?
    – Some cities, and likely other sources, have published info on functioning and best practices of committees. One I like is the idea of set terms for members and annual votes for roles on the committees. This currently isn’t the case in St. Thomas.

    Committees are necessary because they are important for the improvement and updating of the City of St. Thomas. Issues tackled by committees impact the current residents now or in the future. Decisions can affect local laws, taxes, how well the city functions, how livable it is, and the city’s reputation. Well functioning committees helping advise the city are essential, as are the city adopting good recommendations.


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