Welcome to the Eudaimonia.ca, home of Brian Hoessler. A community-based researcher by trade, my assorted fascinations include cities, the non-profit sector, public transit, and how to build awesome neighbourhoods. For fun I practice my (very) amateur skills in photography and web design, and on occasion hit people with swords.
TL:DR version: I’m supporting Charlie Clark to be our next mayor in Saskatoon.
These past few weeks, as we count down to election day here in Saskatoon (what, there’s an election happening somewhere else? :P), I’ve been trying to figure out what to say about this race. For those of you who know me well, you have probably realized that I’m not an actively political person. Although I keep informed on the issues and will be happy to discuss them, I don’t endorse or support specific candidates or parties. Part of the reason for this non-engagement can be traced to my upbringing in a family that acts likewise, where to this day I have no clue how my parents or my brother vote: even my other half can’t get that answer out of me. Another reason for staying neutral is the diversity of my friends, who espouse a range of political beliefs and affiliations. Finally, I always worried about being blinded through “buying in” to a candidate or party, placing loyalty and the end goal of power above all else.
Given all this, it may come as a surprise that I’m supporting a mayoral candidate, Charlie Clark, this year. Actually, “support” may be too mild, as I’ve gone all in: I’ve donated to his campaign, taken a lawn sign, volunteered numerous hours, and am now writing this post, all firsts for me. Why?
I could spend paragraphs writing about Charlie as a person. How I met him a few months after moving to Saskatoon in his role as my ward’s councillor, how I worked with him on the 10 Days for Transit initiative, and how I see him consistently at the table and getting involved both in our ward and more broadly in Saskatoon. How he shows a genuine interest in learning about the issues and hearing from multiple diverse perspectives before making a decision: not for the purpose of choosing the most politically-expedient option, but for determining the best way forward for the community, even if it requires more time and effort to get it right. And speaking of community, that’s at the root of Charlie’s approach to civic life, whether that’s his annual apple-pressing in his back yard, walking in the Pride parades, or crafting an electoral campaign that is designed to bring people from all backgrounds and walks of life together.
The other reason that I’m supporting Charlie is that he gets it – that Saskatoon is no longer a small town. We’re approaching 300,000 with no signs of slowing, and with that population growth brings both new issues and a growing complexity. Sprawl, transportation, crime, economic concerns, social inclusion, and more are major issues that can be addressed at the municipal level but cannot be reduced to simplistic ideas and solutions. Fortunately, during his time on council, Charlie has shown a willingness to take a more nuanced view on issues of the day – to develop his knowledge, to hear from those most affected, and to work with communities rather than trying to “win” through an us-them divide. He’s demonstrated clear leadership in this regard, and it’s the kind of leadership we need in Saskatoon at this point in the city’s history.
Many of my friends have written far more eloquent posts in support of Charlie, and I might share a few of them over the next few days through social media. I hope that my words give some insight into why I’m supporting his campaign, and encourage those who are undecided to learn more about him. For those who support other candidates, I fully appreciate your involvement and engagement in this election – our city and our democracy needs multiple voices and ideas in order to grow and succeed. And I won’t keep you in suspense, I’ll congratulate and support whoever wins on the 26th. 🙂
As a final thought, there was no doubt in my mind what I would do when Charlie declared his intention to run, despite my previous lack of active involvement in politics. He’s an amazing person with a superb grasp of the issues, who chose to run at a time where the city stands at a crossroads. My hope is that my story will encourage those who were planning to sit out this election to become more engaged, those sitting on the fence to consider Charlie, and those who are quiet supporters (like I was) to share their stories.