CBC Windsor

Windsor Votes: Taking the electoral plunge

Karen Brady, CBC News

Voting is a funny thing. People vote for all kinds of reasons: a vote for change, a vote for the person you hate the least, a vote to make sure 'the other guy won't get into office'. Sixty two percent of eligible Windsorites didn't even vote in the last election. So it's refreshing to hear about people enthused about the thought of marking a ballot. Carlos Ruiz is one of those people.

Carlos Ruiz and a colleague at the MCC.jpg

Carlos Ruiz is living the Canadian dream. Last summer Ruiz became a Canadian citizen and Monday's municipal vote will be his first opportunity to exercise his democratic right. For Ruiz the prospect of casting his inaugural vote is exciting.

"I think the most important part in my integration process is to be able to go and participate and be able to decide who I want to be elected."

Ruiz says he's always been interested in promoting the democratic process. While living in Mexico, he says he worked for an election office similar to Elections Ontario. When he moved to Windsor five years ago with his wife and son, Ruiz volunteered for the Windsor Essex Multicultural Council. Now he is employed there as an immigration settlement worker, and he teaches a citizenship preparation workshop.

He tells clients that "even if you don't like any of the candidates it's very important that you go and vote and you try to choose a candidate that best suits your interests. Even if he's not going to win, at least you are choosing one of them."

According to Ruiz, the mandatory citizenship test includes three questions about voting. If an applicant gets any of the questions wrong, they can't become a Canadian citizen. So understanding the electoral process is a big deal for new Canadians. (Click here to learn more about who is eligible to vote in Windsor.)

Carlos Ruiz has already made up his mind about who he'll vote for on Monday. But he won't share his choice for mayor or Ward 1 councillor. He wants to remain neutral in the eyes of his immigration clients. But he's upfront when it comes to what he sees as Windsor's biggest challenge.

"The main issue is employment."

Ruiz's wife Susana became a Canadian in July. According to Ruiz, she left a great job in Mexico to follow her husband's Canadian dream. She is still looking for work in Windsor.

"I have heard the platforms for different candidates and all of them talk about the same thing. What I'm not really clear on some candidates is how they are going to do it. How they are going to get things done? That's what I want to hear."

I asked Ward 1 Candidates what specific ideas they had to address Ruiz's job concerns. Joel Bentley is fixated on the idea of transportation infrastructure - another border crossing, an airport transportation hub, and "more light rail between Michigan and Essex County. I think that would help generate jobs."

Incumbent Drew Dilkens says, "What's the plan? It's already started. I look at what we're doing at the airport as an example. We're taking advantage of the skillset of those in the tool and die industry. We're putting them back to work in a manufacturing capacity in a high tech industry like solar and green energy... in an industry that's growing."

Candidate Matt Ford sees trimming business taxes via a leaner city budget as the first order of business. "You can't go to people that are public sector workers and say 'take a pay cut' and then be one of the highest paid mayors. I'll give back 10% [of my councillor salary]."

Although Ruiz was vague on his voting decision he did outline the strategy he'll use to make it.

"I want to choose [a councillor] that is on the same page with the candidate for mayor that I want to vote, because I want the mayor to have support from the council."

The polls are open from 10 am to 8 pm on Monday.