I was at our campaign office with my team and wife, Sarah, standing in front of a huge screen backdrop showing over 70 volunteers who had participated in the zoom welcome session the evening before.
There are two reasons for why I want to run again.
First, because there are key issues I have worked hard on for the last four years that have yet to be completed. I want to see this work through to ensure we can have the most impact on the future of the City. And second, because during a crisis like COVID, I know it is essential that we have leadership that brings the community together as one team, rather than divides it against each other.
I described the work that had been in progress before COVID-19 hit and had to be postponed:
- Implementing Saskatoon’s first ever Economic Growth strategy.
- Sending Saskatoon’s first delegation to the world’s largest agricultural tech forum to the city as a growing tech hub and attract companies to become part of our growth.
- Hosting a Mayor’s Retrofit Roundtable, in partnership with the homebuilding industry to explore how to expand building retrofits and create new jobs, drive green innovation, improve housing, lower costs for homeowners, and reduce emissions.
- Building an unprecedented Regional Growth plan to create the conditions for the region to become a magnet for investment and well planned growth.
- Implementing the Safe Community Action Alliance’s strategy to address the city’s crystal meth crisis. I noted that the Saweyhitotan pilot project announced this week - taking an innovative approach at addressing downtown safety - is the result of much of this hard work.
- Spurring investment in the Downtown through: identifying a location for a new downtown entertainment district and significant new residential development.
I then talked about what happened when the city shut down because of COVID-19:
On the first day the crisis hit - all of the work and the partnerships and relationship building that had been underway paid off. Everyone had to learn how to do things differently, unions and management and stakeholders: City services had to be delivered differently; community organizations had to work closely together to support the vulnerable population; special meetings were held with leaders in the business sector, faith, cultural and arts communities, all to ensure people had the information they needed to follow health guidelines and have their concerns heard.
I saw the power of relationships, the absolute currency of trust, as essential for taking swift action in the face of uncertainty. But let’s be clear - this didn’t happen everywhere, and this doesn’t happen by accident. You only have to look south of the border to see what happens when leaders escalate fear and sow seeds of division. That is a recipe for political gridlock and failed systems, where people and communities pay the price.
I am concerned about the politics of fear creeping into this civic election campaign in a way that I haven’t seen in my five previous campaigns.
There are also signs of a slate, which are a recipe for political gridlock as well, because if you spend your campaign trying to undermine your future colleagues, you can make whatever promises you want, but good luck getting them to vote for any of your proposals if you make it to the other side.
In contrast, I believe the important role a mayor plays, as the leader of a community in the middle of a pandemic, is to build confidence, trust and common purpose.
From what I am hearing, the other candidates want to go backwards - to revisit and reverse decisions, to undo progress that has been made, to cling on to outdated ideas from the past.
We will not solve tomorrow’s problems with yesterday’s ideas. We simply cannot afford to do that. If we do not get out in front of the technological, environmental, economic changes that are on the horizon, we will be left behind.
I then announced my platform and three priority areas:
We must build a strong economic future and ensure that no one is left behind.
Keep people working.
I talked with a restaurant owner recently on a patio, they are just keeping their head above water through our beautiful summer and are wondering if they will survive once the patio closes and wondering if people are going to come inside to eat in their 30% capacity space.
My goals for the next 4 years will focus on driving our economic recovery from COVID-19 by strengthening our local economy and positioning us as a leader in the global economy.
Keep people safe.
I was talking with an immunocompromised mother just the other day about the painful decision making about whether to send her kids to school so they can learn and socialize with their friends, but she also wants to ensure she will be safe.
This is one kind of safety - and we know we are dealing with another kind of safety right now
I have sat in the kitchen of one mother who described what it was like to live on a block with a gang house and the fear of walking her kids to school in the morning.
My goals for the next term will be to keep focused on addressing the failures of our current system, supporting new models of policing while also introducing new systems that better address the root causes of crime.
Strengthen our quality of life.
My goal for the next 4 years will include continued infrastructure improvements and investments in facilities that keep citizens active, healthy, and proud of their city, while keeping taxes low.
Moving forward as a city also means embedding Reconciliation, Inclusion and Sustainability into all of our work, rather than keeping them as separate areas.
I will lay out more details for each of these areas over the course of the campaign.
Join my team! We are working hard to make sure that we build a city that is positioned to succeed in the future and will leave no one behind.
Any support - financial or your time - is so appreciated.