One of my favourite sayings goes like this: “Time is a healer, a friend, a maker of dreams.” I always liked this saying because it shed a favourable light on time opposed to the usual tendency towards it. No one ever has enough of it; it moves too quickly or moves too slowly. In today’s case I don’t have such a positive attitude. It’s because I do not have enough time as a full-time Mom with a full-time career, whom is also a full-time daughter, sister and friend with a giant part-time passion. It is because of this lack of time that I decided to narrow my inquiry into the 2010 Mayoral Campaign down to the two ‘front runners’. I did not see how it would be possible to interview (in person) 14 candidates, dictate the conversations and create the subsequent blog entries, so I only bit off as much as I could chew.
Thankfully, a persistent Mayoral candidate, Eric Southern, helped me see the error of my ways. Could it be true that we perceive the two front-runners based on the exposure we have received from the various media sources? There are 12 other candidates that I did not interview and that we really haven’t heard much about.
In the interest of time, I interviewed Eric Southern via email and am happy to share the results with you today.
City Mom: Can you share a summary of what your 2010 campaign platform will include?
Eric Southern: My campaign platform includes innovative ways to help correct some of the issues of our city. To address the issue of unemployment and make London a strong leader in technology I am proposing the city build a fiber network infrastructure. To increase the quality, delivery and efficiency of city services I plan on implementing a philosophical change to a Kaizen style of management and procedures at city hall and all city services. A Kaizen philosophy empowers the workers to increase their quality of life as well as their own productivity, which results in a more effective delivery of service as well as a happier and more engaged workforce. To increase the accountability of the city government to the people of London I plan on adopting the principles of open government.
CM: I often enjoy walks throughout the downtown core with my husband and young daughter, but we always stay away from Dundas Street, between Ridout and Wellington. I have seen plans for revitalization of that area such as the LTC pilot project to reroute bus service, and the attempts to fill retail space with national chains and large independent businesses. What else are you planning to carry out to bring that section of downtown back to life and make it a family friendly place?
ES: I plan on incentivizing the development of unoccupied or dilapidated buildings in the downtown area by increasing the tax rates for those buildings. I am also considering increasing taxes on parking lots that do not meet a vehicle occupancy rate which would incentivize creating multi-level parking facilities as opposed to more flat (unattractive) lots. I also plan on restructuring the bus routes throughout London to be based on arterial routes and support changes to the LTC restructuring of routes throughout the area.
CM: There are many wonderful parks in the downtown core. A new recreational swimming pool was opened in Gibbons Park this summer and the revitalization of Piccadilly Park took place. What other Parks & Recreation enhancements are scheduled for the downtown core for 2011 and on?
ES: I currently do not know all of the enhancements scheduled for 2011 but would like to have the city highlight and showcase the parks in the downtown area to better attract young families and professionals. I would work with Parks & Recreation as well as non-profits such as Reforest London to help increase the quality of green space in London.
CM: Will the Parks & Recreation budget receive the same funding as we saw in 2009 & 2010?
ES: I think that the Parks & Recreation budget is reasonable and hope to help expand the parks in London during my tenure. Considering all of the work accomplished by the Parks and Recreation Program, I will do my best to maintain their $11 million budget.
CM: City Plaza (formerly Galleria) has seemed to struggle for years now. Do you have any long-term plans for City Plaza?
ES: I currently do not see very many issues with City Plaza, if you have any please let me know.
CM: Is there a possibility that we would see a big chain grocery store moving in to make it more convenient for families and individuals living in the downtown core?
ES: I think there is a definite lack of service for groceries in the downtown area. I am not certain that City Plaza is the most appropriate place for locating a grocery store. I would do my best to have a developer in the area build a ground level grocery store in a new or existing development by using possible tax incentives. There are many factors that will make this feasible such as the fiber network being deployed downtime first, the attraction to downtown for new businesses due to the fiber, and the incentivized tax rates for dilapidated or abandoned buildings.
CM: I recently created a post on City Mom called a Tale of Two Cities where I made a comparison between London and Toronto. I received feedback from my London readers that there was a lack of Mom & Tot programs available in the city. Do you have plans to increase city funding for such programs or offer incentives to private businesses wishing to open such programs in the downtown core?
ES: I plan on supporting the libraries and community centers in their execution of services to the people of London. As I have a vested interest in expanding Mom & Tot programs in the near future I will do my best to see that those services are adequately covered by the libraries and community centers throughout London. I will also support non-profit groups in providing these services to families in London.