As part of the London Youth Advisory Council’s Youth Councillor Training and Transition program, our Councillors were asked to go out into the City and ask citizens a simple question: “What do you expect from your politicians?”
Here are some of the answers that we heard:
- “I am not supposed to have an opinion with this uniform on”
- “I want something quite different from what we are currently at. So our descendants can have more and we have a chance to live a decent life.”
- “Most citizens don’t realize elections are not every term but it is a vote every time we spend a dollar.”
- “We would like to see what is realistic. We need to know the realistic limits we are working in – there are forces at play out of our control. We need to acknowledge our limits to make actual progress”
- “The responsibility is not just with the politicians but the public also needs to realize their obligation. Our leaders need to tell the people to wake up.”
Politicians need to realize that progress goes beyond a four year term. We need to think about growth and progress like planting a tree. Realistically, it is not enough and it is unfair to focus explicitly on what the politicians’ responsibilities are. It is imperative to ask “What do I expect of my fellow citizen?” Together, we need to plant a seed for the future, and during each term we ought to maintain it and nurture positive growth. The responsibility of politicians goes further than the promises that are made during the campaign period. We need to make actions plans. Change goes beyond a term. We need actual progress now by “looking thirty years ahead to make plans that we know we are going to pass on. Talking with our fellow citizens of London we have realized that what the community expects is different than what they are receiving. The problem is not black and white and cannot be attributed to one specific issue. The system and institutions do not provide awareness to what politics should be and what us as citizens can do to contribute to society. Our education of politics should go beyond a grade 10 half credit course in Civics. Some citizens point out that we need a complete make-over in politics. Others say we all need to realize the responsibilities that are a part of democracy: “We need to put the human aspect back into democracy.
The services themselves need to be improved. Our fellow citizens believe the effort that is made to reach out to the public is lacking consistency. Many say it is not about the money: “I don’t want money, I want help”. There needs to be better ways to connect with those that are living paycheque to paycheque so that we can relieve financial burdens by making resources more accessible and useful.
Charles Muriithi – Ward 5
Ashley Veri – Ward 2
Melissa Zuleta Jiménez – Ward 7
Wadhah Baobaid – Ward 12