Linda Jackson wants to focus on the positives

7 Oct

The following appeared in our sister publications Tandem and Corriere Canadese.

By Alessio Galletti

“If it (our image) was so bad, people would be moving or would not be coming here.”

That’s the reaction of Linda Jackson in an interview with Corriere Canadese/Tandem, upon the mention of Vaughan’s recent stormy past and the “city above the law” – a phrase that has been uttered as far away as Queen’s Park benches.

She understands why this opinion is so widespread, pointing out, however, that over the past four years, 60,000 people and numerous businesses have relocated “above Toronto.”

“They love living in Vaughan, you go and ask them,” says the incumbent mayor.

“I prefer to focus on the positives that have been achieved in Vaughan,” she says, defending the achievements of the past four years – a difficult period riddled with strife and controversy.  She understood soon after the election that she would have problems with city council.

“They have tried everything but throw me the kitchen sink, but if we can go through this election those issues are going to go away,” she says, pointing out that after the low point in relations with the council – when in 2008 she was unanimously asked to step down – she has managed to gain the support of some councillors who decided to work with her.

Over the past four years, there was no shortage of legal problems, both for the municipality and for Jackson – who admitted during the first debate of making some mistakes.

“When you are standing alone and you have no support either from the council or from the senior administration, it’s very easy (to make mistakes),” Jackson comments to Corriere Canadese/Tandem.

But legal trials, however unfortunate they can be, are part of citizens’ rights. Reminding us that most accusations have been ruled to be without basis, she says: “I firmly believe that if I can get through this election, these things are going to go away.”

Discussing her priorities if granted a second mandate, she mentions transit, growth, and the hospital.  Regarding the first issue, she speaks of the necessity for developing infrastructure that includes public services such as the new subway and roads, while seeking ways of reducing single-passenger vehicular traffic with high occupancy vehicles.

On the issue of development, she describes Vaughan as having a 20-year-long success story, whose most recent chapter included the 3 percent extension of city borders – a decision she and others were criticized over.

“People choose Vaughan for what they call ground-related houses, they didn’t move to Vaughan to be surrounded by condos and towers.”

And with thousands more expected to arrive over the next few years, borders were extended “to offer residents a choice,” says Jackson.  “You can’t talk from both side of your mouth: I can’t fight the high-rise buildings without expanding the boundaries.” she adds.  “People have to go somewhere.”

But the incumbent mayor, speaking about growth and the hospital, openly criticizes the Province for asking Vaughan to make room for thousands of people without providing the necessary economic help: “They tell us that we have to take the people but they don’t give us the money for the hospital,” she charges, adding that even the existing structures that currently serve the community, such as York Central, and Humber River, are not being adequately financed.

Hospital, transportation, and development

Hospital, transportation, and development are key priorities for all mayoral candidates, in fact.  How can Linda Jackson make the difference?

“I’ve been on council for nine years.  I have the experience.  I know what it takes to be mayor.  I know what it takes to deal with a council that doesn’t want to work with you particularly hard.  I figured out ways and we have done great work,” she says.

“Municipal politics need someone who isn’t affiliated with parties,” she continues, making an implicit reference to the other two main candidates in the race to the mayoral throne, Maurizio Bevilacqua and Mario Racco, who are both Liberals.  In disputes with the Province in fact, party guidelines could interfere with the needs of the community, according to Jackson.  Had she been affiliated with a party, she maintains that she could not have achieved the realignment of Highway 427 – which she considers a victory.

What are three main objectives achieved by Linda Jackson during her nine years as councillor?  Blocking the construction of a gas plant on Highway 27 is the first one.

“I was the only member of council fighting that,” she says.  Then there are the continued efforts to ensure that the community’s auto park is more eco-sustainable, and the fact that her administration was able to control taxes.  She was recently attacked on this last point, also by a newspaper and Internet publicity campaign:

“We have to deal with a lot of tax increases. For someone to say that they will freeze tax increases is very unrealistic. It’s very easy as an outsider to say: ‘Oh yeah I will cut it.’ But I challenge them: without cutting a major service it’s impossible. A lot of candidates just make promises because they know that they are not going to be elected.”

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One Response to “Linda Jackson wants to focus on the positives”

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  1. Tweets that mention Linda Jackson wants to focus on the positives « Vaughan Today: Election 2010 -- Topsy.com - October 7, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Joshua Freeman, AlexisD_VaughanToday. AlexisD_VaughanToday said: Linda Jackson wants to focus on the positives: http://t.co/B8vfXtJ #Vaughan #Vaughanelection #VoteVaughan […]

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