This past week we officially launched our campaign as I filed my nomination for city council in the new Ward 29 in Toronto. It’s been a fast paced and surprising lead up. Fast paced because we had only 6 weeks to prepare for filing my nomination. Surprising because I only decided to run during the two weeks following the Toronto Vigil.
I was honoured to be the community representative, speaking to over 18,000 people about the significance of the van attack and how we could turn it into something good if we allowed it to change how we live. As I spoke these words, I realized they were also for me. There was a responsibility that had been handed to me over my community in helping to co-found We Love Willowdale in response to the tragedy to facilitate the journey of healing for our neighbourhood and in founding North York Moms, a supportive community of 7000+ moms.
Shortly after the vigil several people asked me if I had considered running for city council. I took this as a sign that I should further explore this possibility. In doing so, many people encouraged me saying, “You are the exact kind of candidate our city needs.” A handful of influential people discouraged me because I am a mom of 2 young kids (ages 3 and 5). “Why would you want to do this? You will never be able to see your kids,” or “Why don’t you wait until your kids are older?” Because I love my kids dearly, these questions did cause me to pause and consider the implications of a life in politics on my family. But the more I thought about it, the more it did not make sense to me. If families, especially young families, could not be represented when decisions are made that will impact the future of our children, the system needed to be fixed. I also realized that these comments were not directed to men who serve in politics or are running with young children. Because I am a mom and not a dad, the pressure for me to fulfill traditional roles as a mom is greater. As I asked the village around me, I realized that I had a beautiful community of support that was willing to join me in this adventure.
Most importantly, I have an amazing husband. His response to all the naysers was, “They don’t know you have a secret weapon…me!” My husband, Alan, has been 120% supportive since I began discussing this idea with him. He has always felt that changes needed to be made in the realm of politics to better represent common people, especially families, rather than politicians in pursuit of power or fulfilling their identity as a politician. Since the formation of North York Moms, he has been supportive of the sacrifices required to be a community organizer. Although this journey is far more intense, his commitment is no different. And because he can do bedtime with 2 wildly vibrant kids without my help, I can go to meetings and stay out late without the fear that my kids will still be awake when I get home. Our shared parenting duties mean I can step away and know the home will not become unglued. I am grateful for who he is and know that his support is critical to my decision to run.
Life is chaotic and busy. But that can be said of any family with young children. The added stresses of campaigning mean I have to make tough choices about my time. Being intentional to carve out family connection time and accepting that this will take away from the time I spend on my campaign means I am trusting in the strength of the community around me to run a great marathon and not a sprint. Sometimes when I am cooking dinner or practicing piano with my son, I wonder about my fellow campaigners and how they are spending their time. Because there is only 4 months until election day, every moment really matters. And somehow I have to find a balance that works for me and my family. Although other candidates may have the luxury of being able to focus all their energy and time on their campaign, I have the gift of joy and creativity that comes when I am hanging out with my kids. They keep me grounded and remind me why I am doing what I am doing. I am trusting that this will balance things out in the field of competition because the deeper purpose is key to running this race - not just to win, but even more so after winning. I want to build a better city for my kids and for my community. I look forward to sharing this journey with you. In the mean time, I’ll see you on the campaign trail.