Sarah for Mayor

Why I’m Running for Mayor

Whether they are a close family member or a radio talk show host, every person who learns that I’ve entered the race to become Toronto’s next mayor has their own reaction, and the most common one, whether people are supporters or not, is to question. Why am I running? Why aim so high? Why go against the odds? And why would I even want to be mayor?

You’ll be able to hear my soundbite answers in radio interviews or on social media. But here is where I wanted to share with you my answers when I ask myself why I’m running.

It starts with the nine year old Sarah. On a picnic with my family, I noticed a nearby hill strewn with garbage and had a compulsion to clean it up. Other picnickers were grateful, amused or oblivious to my childish efforts, but the satisfaction I felt when I saw the verdant green emerge once the plastic was removed was all that mattered.

After that, I felt like my mission was to save the world. To save it from pollution, war and hatred. And to do it, I felt like I had to somehow wrest control from the hands of those who were doing it wrong and place it in my own. I would laughingly say to friends my aspiration was to be a benevolent dictator, but I was only half joking since I truly believed I knew what was best for us all. It was from that pure but misplaced desire to fix everything myself that I was running back in 2018.

Well, a few years have gone by since then, and along with the passage of time came a complete upheaval of what we all thought of as normal. What happened in this city – the closures of playgrounds, the new divisions that surfaced, the suffering that people went through as well as the amazing efforts they made to adapt to the new world and support others the best way they could – forced me to completely re-evaluate how I looked at the world.

I still believe that Toronto’s mayor has an ability unlike any other elected official to effect change in this city by leading by example, guiding those who wish guidance, and offering ideas that can inspire others to share their own. And though everyone has their own belief of what makes someone a great candidate, the qualifications required in the current mayoral job posting are the following: you must be over 18 and a resident of Toronto that holds Canadian citizenship. That beautiful freedom to stand in an election is given to all of us who meet those qualification, and I encourage any of you who are reading this to run if you too want to offer your own vision.

My vision is of a city with public spaces that are life-enhancing and welcoming. I want the public space we call roads to be available for every resident to use without risk to life and limb. I want our city to be filled with trees, orchards, gardens and wildlife – both the human and non human kind.

I want a city where everyone can run a business in every part of this city, where the only limits to enterprise are the most important ones – like obeying the criminal code and a very few other basic requirements related to health and livability.

I want a city where everyone who wants to provide housing for others can do so quickly and easily, and everyone who needs shelter can find it. And where we all have easy access to clean water, nourishment for both the body and soul, and hygienic facilities like toilets and showers.

I want a city where crime is not reduced to a dangerous game of blame and punishment, but instead treated as the complex societal issue it is, so that we relieve police of the crushing burden of being solely responsible for crime prevention and allow them to focus on assisting us in emergencies and finding out how and why violence happened when it does occur.

Finally, I want a city where music, art, sports and community are treated as essential parts of our life, not optional frills.

These have been and remain my ideals. But, unlike in 2018, I no longer believe it is my job to save the world, or this city. I no longer believe I have all the answers, or know what’s right for everyone. Rather than wrest control from anyone else, I want to share my vision and learn from yours. I want to try what I think can work, and then be corrected if there’s a better way to do things. I want to truly listen to you and I want you to tell me when I’m off base. I don’t like being criticized any more than anyone else does, but I need the input of others if we are to get where we all want to go.

Inside me is still that nine year old who just wants everything to be green and beautiful. But alongside her is the me of today that believes that not only is there beauty all around us, but the best way to create more is to do it together.

Its the choice that matters