Keith Poore is notable as a candidate, if for no other reason, than for being the election’s only student candidate, currently studying for his Masters in Computational Biophysics researching health care and immunization of infectious diseases.
At the University of Guelph, Poore served on the Board of Directors for the Graduate Student Association including the By-Laws committee, Awards committee, Honouraria committee, and the Information Technology Student Advisory Committee (ITSAC). Before coming to Guelph, Poore was an executive of the Ryerson Student Union as well as the Chair of the Department of Physics at Ryerson University, and before that, at the age of 17, he sat on TD’s Friends of the Environment Board as a Board Member. Outside of school, Poore was recently elected to the Board of Directors for the Unitarian Congregation of Guelph. Now, Poore hopes that people of Ward 6 find him sufficiently accomplished and engaged to represent them on city council.
1) Why did you decide to run for city council?
I decided to run because I believe that citizens of my generation are able to provide great insight and innovative solutions to problems proposed in municipalities. Solutions to engagement, employer relations, as well as tackling the bigger issues like energy initiatives, protecting the water quality, and much needed infrastructure changes. We talk about having diversity around the horseshoe and adding a younger person’s perspective to the table is, I believe, a much needed thing in Guelph.
I’m running because I feel communication with Ward 6 residence is not what they can be. When Ward 2 has an excellent blog and an engaged community that is something I aspire to see in Ward 6. Citizens should be the most engaged with local politics since it is the level of politics that affects your day-to-day livelihood. If a by-law changes, I would hope that my council members would tell me how that impacts my daily life.
2) What makes your ward unique to Guelph?
Ward 6 is the largest ward in Guelph, in terms of both geography and population. As such, there is great diversity in the population. There are young families, older families, and students. This area is also seeing population intensification, with more development to help with the rise in population. At the same time, we have industrial and commercial areas that help provide services and jobs to the residence in the area. We have beautiful parks in the ward for all to use and learn from. We are also unique because we lack specific community spaces available to the public.
3) Using a letter grade, how would you rank the performance of the current city council? Explain.
I would give the current council a B grade. They have done a great job making investments that make sense for this city; the South End Recreation Centre, the Baker St. initiative, to name a couple. But there are some things that I don’t support, like the St. George’s Square renewal after the infrastructure is replaced. I think there are places for passive community space and don’t believe the middle of a roundabout is an ideal space for it happen.
They have left the next council with a great credit rating, AA+, which is one of the best ratings that can be given. Certainly the next council can bring it up even higher, but the previous council has situated them in a good position to do so.
Though it can be a tough thing to do, being proactive in communications should be a top priority to all council members. Many members are proactive, using the internet as a tool for communication while others are more passive.
4) Some people say that Guelph is over-taxed, others believe that our taxes are inline with a community our size; where do you stand on taxation in Guelph?
I have talked with citizens who think Guelph is over-taxed. Though I agree that our taxes are mostly inline with communities our size, citizens don’t necessarily see where the money goes. They see the quality of services stagnate, they see City Hall battling large court cases, and they worry that their money is being misspent.
I think that taxes should be raised in proportion to the cost of living until the city shows that they are spending the money tax payers are giving in a constructive way.
5) Do you believe that Guelph has a spending problem? If yes, then please cite specific examples of areas and/or programs that you would cut to save money?
Overall, I think Guelph does not have a spending problem. I believe that recent news stories are playing out in a way that would contradict this point of view, but overall, I think that Guelph’s spending is on par with other cities our size. We need to ensure that our investments make sense in terms of potential returns but also risk.
6) What’s the biggest priority for Guelph in terms of services needed? This could be something that’s provided by the government, ie: a library or rec centre, or it could be a commercial need, ie: a new grocery store in the east end.
Ward 6 needs community space. Though the South End Recreation Centre has been added to the 10-year capital budget, Ward 6 needs the development to begin sooner rather than later. Community spaces like the proposed recreation centre would bring many members of the community together, making the community even better and happier.
As for the rest of the city, the Baker St. initiative is a great investment that will bring many community members together. It is a development that would have a great impact on the local economy
7) How would you propose to mend relations between the city and transit workers, and to improve the services of Guelph Transit?
One way to mend the relationship with Guelph Transit workers is by taking the bus. Quite simply, if city officials, like the mayor and councillors, took the bus to various destinations, it would show that decision makers care about the service.
Another way to repair relations is by having conversations with drivers. It has been my experience that the drivers like to talk with patrons. They want to be part of the planning process. I recently talked to a couple of drivers. They feel like they are not heard by the city when it comes to ideas of new routes, what needs to change and what is working.
One idea that came out of these conversations would be to include up to 2 seats on the Transit Advisory Committee (TAC) for bus drivers. TAC reports to the Operations and Transit department, which in turn reports to the Operations, Transit, and Emergency Services Committee, who are decision makers. If we have transit workers helping make recommendations on an advisory level, I believe we would be making great strides to mending the relationship with transit workers.
8) What will you do to insure the best possible communication between yourself and your constituents if you’re elected to council?
Ward 6 has a very large population. I will ensure that I respond to e-mails in a timely fashion, but I want to do more. Ward 2 has a successful blog which is used often by citizens of that ward. I would like to do the same, use a blog for communications. But that’s not all. I think town halls are important ways to communicate with citizens as well. I believe that citizens would find it a useful way to communicate and should be introduced to Ward 6. I would work with Ward 5 councillors, as well, to help communicate with student.
9) Guelph is implementing online voting for the first time with this election, are you in favour of this development or against it? Explain.
I am in favour of online voting. It is a more accessible way to vote for almost everyone in the city. Though there have been concerns from others about security of the system, I am certain that the city has worked hard to have a great security systems put in place. It has a great potential to raise our voter turnout in municipal elections. Last election we had a 34% voter turnout. If citizens can vote from home, I think they will make good use of the opportunity. Moreover, internet voting could reach more students, who have the opportunity to vote in municipal elections as well.
10) What issue, aside from any previously mentioned in this questionnaire, do you think should be a priority and why?
There are several issues that should be a priority. One of them is the need for a voting system that works for the voters. I have always been a supporter for proportional voting in provincial and federal elections. I have the same belief that voting systems at the municipal level should be proportional as well. I support Single Transferable Voting, but am open to other proportional voting systems as well.
We need to deliver on the Open Government initiative. At the last council meeting, there was unanimous support for the Open Government Action Plan. Work needs to go forward to engage citizens. This will take place in many ways: from notifying the city about a faulty light using an app to gathering input from the community on opinions on issues presented to council. This will engage citizens in a way that will bring the community together.
11) How can local government be a force for good in the lives of the people of Guelph?
Not only can local government be a force for good in the lives of the people of Guelph, it should be a force for good. Municipal government is the level of government that affect citizens’ lives the most. It’s where the services such as garbage collection, transit, and weather response happen. If we cannot produce great services, then we are not doing good for the citizens.
12) Where can voters get more information about you and your campaign?
I provide my opinions on my website, http://www.keithward6.com. To interact with me around your own ideas or based on my ideas, I have a Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/keithpooreward6, a twitter account, @keith4ward6, an e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org. If you prefer a conversation face-to-face, we can arrange a meeting via my phone number (519) 820-0358.