The little campaign that could is gaining some steam. The possibility of winning is high, even if the probability is still low according to the pollsters and talking heads. As we get closer to Election Day, I have been thinking very hard about the specifics of how I could carry out my responsibilities of MLA that would best serve the people of Dartmouth South, and allow me to fulfill my only election promise of representation. I am a person who is much more inclined to allow processes to emerge organically rather than adhering to the same old bureaucratic ways. As I have been in my campaign, I would like to forge new pathways of politics and engagement, and be responsive to the voices of the people.
If I win, the very first thing I will do is set my constituency office up somewhere in Downtown Dartmouth. For the most part, my office will be furnished with second-hand furniture and locally-made art and decor. I will have an open door policy at my office, with regular “drop-in” hours where you won’t need an appointment to come see me. I will be very transparent with my expenses, and thrifty in my spending. I have never been a materialistic person, and have a good track record of setting up comfortable, welcoming spaces with little money and resources.
Once I am settled into my office and have hired an assistant, the main tasks at hand will be setting up systems of communications; things like developing newsletter templates, setting up virtual spaces for interaction with constituents and a district website, and advertising my office location, hours and the ways people can contact me. I plan on continuing door knocking and direct face-to-face engagement even after the election is over. Who says these are things politicians should only do while campaigning?
Since I won’t have a Party Caucus to rely on to guide and inform my decisions, I would like to set up a sort of Citizens Caucus open to any member of the riding to join and provide input on policy development, legislative voting, and community issues. Participation would be voluntary, and would entail monthly meetings and participation in online forums and polls, so that I can stay in tune with voice of the people and keep my election promise of citizen representation. I have lots of experience and successes under my belt in consensus-building through my work on committees, projects and in community, and I am excited about the opportunity of demonstrating those skills in this context.
I would also like to develop a Youth Civics Group, and host regular meetings with those youth in the riding who are interested in politics and want to engage in meaningful participation, even if they are not old enough to vote. I would like to make regular visits to the elementary and junior high schools in the riding, as well as Dartmouth High and NSCC Waterfront campus, to engage in Q&A sessions and hear about the issues and concerns facing youth here on a regular basis.
Given I have extensive research experience, I would also like to be able to offer my skills to groups and organizations who need assistance with accessing, gathering and compiling data for their community projects, reports, programs and services. I could see these skills being useful to Dartmouth South groups and interests doing work related to the Film Tax Credit, Alternative Budgeting, Affordable Housing Developments, Public Safety, Community Development, Arts and Recreation, Food Security, Education and Mental Health.
In addition to my constituency work, I would be open to collaboration with all sitting MLAs, regardless of their political colors, where my participation would be welcomed and beneficial. I want to write a handbook for future Independent candidates and share the knowledge I have gained through this process towards the goal of more democratic participation by other non-partisan, community leaders in Nova Scotia.
These are just some of the specific things I have thought of which would allow me to fulfill my election promise of providing responsible, informed representation, with many more to follow after I have engaged with my constituents and begin carrying out my regular duties of MLA. I am sure that many of you out there have ideas too that I am excited to hear and implement if they are workable and I am elected. I am ready, willing and fully capable of being the new kind of politician for a new kind of politics, if you will only give me the opportunity to show you that I can.