By Ryan McGreal
Published August 19, 2006
(This article has been updated)
I've just learned that Julia Kollek is running for city council in Dundas (Ward 13). The incumbent concillor, Art Samson, has announced that he is not running for re-election. Kollek works as a project coordinator for Environment Hamilton and helped steer the Tonnes for Trees campaign last year.
Raise the Hammer does not yet have a policy on endorsing candidates for municipal office, so my comments to follow are purely personal observations based on my experiences working with Julia on a few projects over the past year or so.
First and foremost, Julia Kollek gets it. She understands the correlations between how we build our cities and the ways in which our built environment affects the natural environment. The impacts of land use and transportation planning are prominent in her approach to civic affairs.
She's also an excellent organizer, and she knows how to engage people respectfully and constructively, even - or especially - people who don't identify themselves as "activists". She helped to demonstrate, through Environment Hamilton's work on Tonnes for Trees last year, that regular Hamiltonians are very concerned about climate change and are eager to make a difference.
The project had a goal of soliciting pledges to reduce 50 tonnes of greenhouse gases and planting 100 trees. They received pledges of 1,000 tonnnes, planted 4,000 trees, and founded the Hamilton Climate Change Action Group (of which I am a member).
Based on City Council's embarrassing response to the recent climate change committee of the whole meeting, Kollek will be far ahead of the curve on sustainable urban development if she ends up in one of the council chairs.
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Editor's Update - When I first posted this blog entry, I included a snarky comment about Andrew Dreschel, the civic affairs columnist for the Hamilton Spectator. It was a throwaway gag and, truth be told, a cheap shot against the Spec, which does some excellent reporting even if I often disagree with their editorial policies.
Unfortunately, by including it in this post, I inadvertently dragged Julia Kollek into the fray, which is completely unfair to her since she's so very good at working with people regardless of their politics. For that I offer my apologies. - Ed.