Ward 3 Councillor Candidate Responses to SHN Questions

Ward 3 Councillor Candidate

Kristeen Sprague

I am running because I believe that Ward 3 needs a counselor that will listen to its constituents' needs. I constantly ask for input from residents, and I am always eager and interested in speaking face-to-face with residents to hear about their struggles, and their vision for the City.

I think Ward 3's best 'assets' include its diversity and working-class history. Downtown and the East End of Hamilton in general have a 'rough' reputation, but that means that it is full of life and the people here are resourceful and progressive.

In addition to investing in recreation facilities and support groups, resources, and safe space (as mentioned above), I think we need improvements to our roads (especially Barton, Cannon, and Burlington Streets). I also think we should keep focus on our Public Transportation system to make sure that it is affordable, accessible and adequately funded.

Specifically, what are your priorities for infrastructure and facilities investment? What would you propose to ensure these are addressed?

My major priorities include addressing the mental health and housing crises in the city. There is so much we can look at on the municipal level to improve health and happiness (such as increased funding for recreation facilities, adequately funding support groups and resources for families, seniors, and marginalized folks) and to address the shortage of decent, affordable housing with the tools at our disposal. These issues are important to me as a low-income and LGBTQ person because I have personally struggled with these all too common challenges.

My primary role as Ward 3 Councillor is to listen to and represent the interests of my constituents. While this is challenging in and of itself, it is a blessing in disguise because a lot of what we need in Ward 3 (such as affordable housing, resources for families, and a focus on mental-health) will benefit everyone in Hamilton.

How will you approach the challenge of navigating (actual or perceived) tensions between the interests of Ward 3 and the City as a whole?

I want to have open lines of communication with Community Groups in Ward 3. My background is in Community Organizing, so I know the value of hearing from the organizations that are 'on the ground' with people in the Ward.

How will you communicate, stay in touch, and be responsive to the people in Ward 3? What sorts of relationships do you expect to have with community groups?

I think we need to approach these problems using a variety of strategies. We need to make sure that City Hall (and all public places) are safe places where everyone can participate, especially those with families, the elderly, new immigrants, low-income earners, and other marginalized people. We need to make sure that we create our budgets with the health and well-being of working-class people in mind. We need to invest in creating safe spaces where we can get to know each other and learn about our struggles. Finally, we need to make sure that we, as councillors, are listening to the needs of everyday people in our Wards.

How will you engage with and address issues such as classism, racism, oppression and privilege?

My priorities include increasing funding for social programs. I would also like to encourage small businesses that respect '$15 and Fairness' decent work priorities. I think that our local economy will be better off when we can keep more money in the community, and the best way to accomplish that is to 'invest' in decent working conditions and wages.

Specifically, what are your priorities for social and economic programmes? How will you ensure that these priority areas addressed?

Bonus* if you were to find yourself stuck in a mutagenic yet fortuitous puddle of phosphorescent ooze and would emerge with a superpower of your choosing, what would it be? and what would you call yourself?

What are your thoughts on the sometimes adversarial nature of municipal politics and its effect on council function? How will you negotiate that environment?

I have a lot of experience organizing with Community groups (such as the Hamilton PRIDE Committee, the City's Advisory Board on LGTBQ matters, and tenants' rights groups) that give me an understanding of Ward 3 constituents' fundamental struggles that most Counselors do not have. I have a genuine interest in making Hamiltonian's lives better, and I am willing to take the time to speak to people to find out what's important to them. I think that open ear sets me apart from other, more 'traditional' politicians.

What knowledge, skills, perspectives, or experiences would you bring to the role of councillor?

I would like to look at the City's Budget and Priorities from the lens of some of the 'social determinants of health' to make sure that we are addressing issues that impact residents' physical and mental health. For example, there is a lot of crime in my ward, but that is partly created by poverty and hopelessness. A lot of people are suffering from opioid addiction. How can we turn this around? We can make sure that people have access to recreation. We can make sure that people have access to affordable transit. We can engage residents more actively in our budgeting. These are challenging times for municipalities, but this means that we need to focus on what really matters to the health and well being of everyone.

How will you be innovative? What are your new or fresh ideas for the city?

Why did you decide to run for council this term?

What are your favourite Ward 3 Assets?

What are your primary areas of policy interest, and why are these important to you?

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