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Dear Editor,

If we want passionate, knowledgeable people who care about the issues to represent us over the next four years, we need to show up for the best candidates by voting online or by phone between October 14 and 24.

We have a real opportunity to effect change at the local level this term, despite the complexity of the issues challenging our community. 

These issues are not ours alone, and many cannot be solved by the municipal government alone. Across Canada and worldwide, citizens struggle with a historic level of wealth inequality and troubling sociocultural trends that drive communities and even families apart. 

Housing unaffordability and insecurity, climate change, a lack of addictions and mental health supports, challenges around sustainable growth, truth and reconciliation, and human trafficking (yes, it’s happening here in Owen Sound) can feel overwhelming. It’s easy to believe these are mountainous problems we’ll never solve and so have to accept as our reality.

But all hope is not lost. While our city council cannot solve every issue, there is much progress to be made through active listening, partnering with other levels of government and our neighbouring municipalities, and learning from the creative solutions implemented elsewhere. 

What we need on our next council is a shared desire to try. A true commitment to serving the public to the best of their abilities. A genuine interest in fiscal and social responsibility, as the two do not have to be mutually exclusive.

We need councilors who understand and embody the job; that they are elected to represent our interests at the table. They are not an extension of City staff or part of “the team.” Running now on a platform of tackling homelessness, addiction, and mental health after a term of inaction and an unwillingness to talk honestly about these issues just isn’t going to cut it. 

We need councilors whose go-to response for any question or challenge is, “Let me learn more about that and see what we can do,” rather than, “It’s too difficult,” or “We tried before and it didn’t work,” or the all-too-common, flat out “No” that instantly shuts down far too many interactions with the City of Owen Sound.

We need councilors who reach out to their community and actively seek feedback on important issues rather than putting up barriers. Who understand there are many different viewpoints and understanding them is part of the job.

We aren’t looking for elected representatives to serve as superior beings who come in with all the answers and make decisions on our behalf for the next four years. Owen Sound community members deserve to have open-minded representatives at that table who are committed to the democratic process and community consultation. 

That’s why I’m voting for Jon Farmer, who embodies the traits and qualities I believe we need to have on our next city council. 

Jon has real experience in mental health and housing and has long been an active volunteer in our community. He knows he doesn’t have all the answers and has proven resourceful and committed to exploring creative solutions to complex community challenges. He’s also committed to taking action on climate change so you won’t see public spaces around town littered with disposable campaign signs on his behalf. Jon is using recycled materials where possible and only placing signs on supporters’ lawns with their permission. You can take it as an explicit endorsement when you see his name out there.

As far as understanding and being committed to the role, first-time candidates Jeff Caldwell, Suneet Kukreja, and Al Douglas seem to be on the right track, as well. I haven’t met any of these candidates yet but have read the information they’re sharing and hope they keep getting out there. 

Of those incumbents who’ve chosen to take another crack at it, three have won my vote for their responsiveness and professionalism this past term: Carol Merton, Scott Greig, and Travis Dodd. I’d like to think each could be far more effective on a better-functioning council.

I’d like to have had the option to cast another vote for John Tamming. Unfortunately, he’s chosen not to run again. Who could blame him? He was treated terribly by council colleagues and community contacts throughout his term (paging Dr. Flamethrower).

The next council elected to serve this community deserves better – and so do we. Owen Sound voters are responsible for ensuring we don’t end up with two or three excellent representatives being shut down and overruled by another overwhelmingly naysaying council on every opportunity to move this City forward.  

Visit www.owensoundvotes.ca now to ensure you’re on the registered voters' list ahead of the election. Every vote counts.

Miranda Miller


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