Why Am I Running For Richmond City Council? – Michael Wolfe
For over a decade now, I have been interested in the operations at Richmond City Hall. In order to learn more, I have attended a majority of the Monday night City Council meetings. I research the staff reports ahead of time and take my full 5 minutes as a public delegate to speak on the agenda items of the day. Quite often I have been the only member of the public to speak to council on any given evening.
I’ve pointed out errors in the reports and I am often opposed to the recommendations that council seems to rubberstamp. When opposition is evident from reading letters to the editor in the local newspapers, or hearing direct frustrations from neighbours, I ask council to reject the recommendations of staff, in the hopes of creating more meaningful consultation, or effecting an alternative policy or outcome.
Even after thorough research, alongside a carefully articulated speech to council, I often get blank stares and no questions of clarification from council members. When public opposition exists, I would expect council members to acknowledge this discourse, and arguably at least some councilors should be voting against the motion.
The Need For Change In Richmond
It is these experiences with the current Mayor and City Council that have been my motivation to run in the 2014 election. We are in dire need of change, and not change in favour of the same developer-driven mentality, but with a leader among the citizenry. I have sat for hours in the council chambers only to leave with disbelief that these elected officials are tasked with representing the people of Richmond, BC. It has become increasingly more evident with each passing term that the current government holds corporate business interests with a higher degree of importance than the city services that they are expected to provide.
As a public school teacher in Richmond, I am privileged to learn alongside the younger generations of Richmond citizens. However, I have been disheartened to uncover a general sense of political apathy among our young people. It is for them and others who feel voiceless in Richmond that I want to be a representative; to ensure that there is someone on the council of 9 who considers their needs in the present and future changes to our city.
We need honest people who will hold our Mayor and senior city staff to account. Indifference and low voter turnout are the norm in a population largely unaware of the existing neighbourhood values, farmland, and natural areas that are slowly being lost under the current government.
My Commitment To The People of Richmond, BC
I cannot sit idly by, allowing the only community I know and love to be eroded. We need to stand up and take action for the common good. As a Richmond City Councillor, I will spend the next four years actively seeking out direct participation from residents so that I can take the expressed views and demonstrate how political decisions can be driven by citizen input. We need our representatives to have casual meetings with diverse groups and not just hold meetings behind closed doors with special interest groups.
The time has come for change in Richmond, a new face that challenges the status quo with the intention of keeping the wellness of residents at the heart of city policy. In just my first term of office, I will be able to demonstrate this to Richmond voters while being a model politician. I will encourage other politicians to join me in embracing a citizen-driven approach.
Municipal elections on November 15th should come with urgency amongst voters in Metro Vancouver due to the many proposed infrastructure projects that will permanently change the look and feel of our communities. Contact me if you would like to further the discussion on specific issues that matter most to you. Get engaged in the electoral process! Have your voice heard!