Ward 2 Candidate: Myriam Faraj

Myriam Faraj Photo Myriam Faraj website Myriam Faraj Photo Myriam Faraj website

Myriam Faraj

Phone: 438-932-9664
Email: farajmyriam@gmail.com
Website: https://www.powerintheneighborhood.com/

2022 Windsor Election Rose City Politics Candidate Questionnaire answers:

1. What is your prior political experience?

Mainly grassroot activism, primarily for Palestinian Rights, but also in students’ associations and a neighborhood housing committee. My political experience does not come from an office, but from organizing with people. Politics are not just electoral, politics are in our everyday actions, in how we relate and build together in the most intimate ways. It’s about power relations of all kinds. I got quite a bit of political knowledge from my BA in political science where I focused on theory and analysis, but the most educational, enlightening and empowering experiences have been on the streets, raising awareness about issues or protesting for something better, and in meetings and assemblies where issues were discussed and voted on.

2. Why are you running?

To bring the decision-making power to the residents through the organizing of:

– lateral channels of communication to disseminate information, open the discussion and favor connection between residents;

– direct democracy structures (assemblies) where residents can deliberate and then vote on the decisions that affect their lives.

3. What do you do currently for a living?

Public service sector

4. What is the biggest issue affecting the ward you are running for?

There are many issues affecting the ward but this question would have to be discussed in a residents’ assembly to determine which is the priority. The answers of the residents might also vary according to where they live in the ward. For instance:

– Around Forester school, Indian road, Felix/College : the blight is a major concern.

– In Sandwich towne, Forester and West-end areas, there’s a lack of access to fresh nutritious foods. There was a weekly fresh produce market, but it did not receive the support it needed.

– For the West-end, I was told repeatedly that there is an issue with traffic speed and road signalisation that is not adequate. Also, in CHC’s district 2 (Bloomfield and St. Joseph) there’s a whole redesign needed to have more play structures for the kids, better lighting, more safety: something to take the pressure off of the residents.

– On the east side of the bridge, sometimes there are tensions between residents and students. There’s also an issue with litter and building upkeep, etc. and University ave needs some love…

-Throughout the Ward, there’s a need for adequate affordable housing and for accessible cultural events and musical events

5. What is the biggest issue affecting the city of Windsor?

Ideally, this question would have to be discussed in a general assembly (made out of the ward assemblies) for there are many issues affecting the city: lack of a diversified economy (too reliant on one industry), generalized lack of affordable housing (and housing all together), homelessness, lack of cultural activities, improving transit, etc. Now, as someone that’s not born and raised in Windsor, I see a disconnect between the nature of the people living in Windsor and the self-presentation of the city. Windsorites are diverse, down to earth, welcoming, creative and dynamic yet the city is not reflecting that. It seems the city officials are putting forward the city development according to what they think “a city should be” rather than building from what the city is made out of. Now, there are more basic needs to be addressed than Windsor’s self-presentation, but I wanted to mention this disconnect as I think it’s symptomatic of a distance between people and power.

6. Are you seeking any endorsements?

None other than those of my fellow neighbors.

7. Have you received any endorsements?

Yes. Some neighbors will support me!

8. Will you continue the “hold the line on taxes” policy?

Again, before taking any action, I’d obtain a mandate from the constituency. As a resident though, my concern is not so much about the amount of taxation, but the little control we have on how it’s being spent. Very personally, I don’t mind increasing the taxation to be adjusted to inflation, but if it’s being spent on street cars, fountains and Christmas lights, then I’m not happy. I’d rather pay more and have it well spent than pay less and it being wasted on vanity projects that don’t serve the community. This is one of the reasons why we need to organize collectively to make the decisions: allocation of resources.

9. Do you support the mega-hospital location?

As a candidate I would follow the mandate given by my community to answer. As a resident, there seem to be issues location-wise. The main argument in favor that I encountered is the ease of access for people from the county. However, the suburban sprawl it will invite (instead of city densification) is a problem, if any local services are diminished or stopped because they’ve been relocated to the hospital, that’s a problem – we need to have good proximity services. Finally, a neighbor also pointed out that it would be more sensical to have the hospital closer to the U to facilitate teaching and research.

10. Do you support strong mayor legislation?

This goes directly against the project I’m presenting. I want to see the exercise of power democratized, not centralized. This circles back to the accountability question: although expanded powers for the mayor could help fast-track some projects, if the candidate elected as a mayor had great promises but doesn’t follow-through, we have no mechanism to remove him/her/them. A lot can happen in 4 years and residents need to be able to have their say every step of the way. A “strong mayor” (which sounds really macho btw) would undermine that.

11. Should the city use taxpayers dollars to bring jobs to the area?

Again, I’d rather speak as a community mandated representative. However, as a resident, I’d rather see my tax money being spent growing local businesses and encouraging a solidarity economy. Too often, when jobs are “brought in”, it’s a lot of tax money given or tax credits offered for unfulfilled promises on the part of the companies; it’s often big businesses that don’t deliver quality jobs (temporary, no advantages, not unionized, etc.) and it leaches profits out of the community to their head offices and foreign shareholders.

12. If you are running in a ward with an incumbent who is also running, why is change necessary, and why are you the person to deliver it?

I’m not talking about changing a councillor for a new “better” councillor, I’m talking about changing the structure of the decision-making system. If the incumbent was proposing a project to transfer the decision-making power to the community through democratic assemblies, I would volunteer and vote for him.

13. How many hours per week do you plan to allocate towards council business if elected?

This is a project of the utmost importance and I would be fully devoted to it (read: full time and then some!). My activism was always volunteer work. I’ve never been paid for doing something I’m truly passionate about, so I had to work to pay the bills and that limited the time commitment I could offer. But if I were to be elected to execute the project I present to Ward 2, I’d be in 100%. I don’t have any dependents, so I’m currently in a situation where I’m able to give a lot of time and energy and I would love to do just that.

14. Do you live in the ward you are running for?

Yes, I live in the far west-end.

15. What agencies, boards, or committees do/have you served on, and in what capacity?

No, I don’t have that kind of resumé, which I think can be a benefit. Fresh eyes see new possibilities and notice issues the regulars might have gotten used to?

16. What person, animal or fictional character should be Windsor’s unofficial mascot?

If Windsor was municipalist run city, my suggestion to the assembly would be the following:

Photo by u4fcau6770 u912d on Pexels.com

A gaze of raccoons. Because they go for what they want and they always find a way of getting it;

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A pack of cats. Because they are ungovernable (i.e. they govern themselves);

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Or a flock of Canada geese. Because they go places together.

But of course (you guessed it) more than what I think, I’d like to hear the people’s suggestions and I’ll be happy with whatever we vote on together.