Windsor Votes: The Citizen's Agenda: Sousan Khaled
Sousan Khaled is a teacher and administrator at Al-Hijra Islamic School.
She lives in Ward 9.
What are the biggest issues municipal candidates need to address to move our city in the right direction?
I know unemployment was a huge issue these last few years. And to be known as the automotive capital of Canada is no longer. That doesn't exist anymore. So we have to be known as something more than that and I know that some candidates are looking into tourism or looking into just something to bring more money into the community. My only concern is what else will that stuff attract? For sure make it kid friendly, family friendly, that's what I would love. But if it's going to be so diverse from what I'm listening to what I'm hearing in my limited scope of things, I'm just afraid of a lack of morality, I guess.
What ideas do you have about how to address these issues?
Outsourcing seems to be the biggest thing and looking at the pros and cons of it, I see some of the pros, but the cons in my opinion just outweigh the pros. What the solution is I don't know. I'm not a politician and I don't intend to be. But again that family-oriented community that we had is missing.
I understand the labour perspective as well. You want to protect your rights, and you want to protect your jobs. My husband is labour so I know exactly what they're going through. At the same time, this whole business aspect of it too - I don't want the rich becoming richer and menial jobs here and there for everybody else. That's what I'm afraid of happening. How to attract the jobs - I'm not quite sure.
What do you think Windsor's strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities are? What threatens Windsor?
Strengths: We do have that community spirit. I love that about the community. The fiasco that happened last year and the whole 101 day strike I know kind of divided the community up a bit. But I think that strength in community is still there. Push comes to shove - we're behind each other. And I just love that. The diverse city aspect when it comes to cultures and tolerance and differences, it seems there. That's a big thing for me personally. Also, having the river there - it's like a portal area rich in history and geography. I think it could be developed into something amazing.
Weakness: The weakness is that we don't use [the riverfront]. We're not using what we have and developing it. To see business happening there... I'm thinking of the coast of Italy. I'm just seeing it being so much more than it is. Opportunites: Especially with the natural resources that we have - this river - the beautiful land that we have around it - that can definitely be developed into a big booming business area.
Threats: All this development and attracting the worst things. That's my biggest fear. I don't want to end up moving to a smaller city because I'm so afraid of what's going to happen in the big city - inflation and my tax rates go up and everything goes up - it's going to have to eventually with all this development.
I'm afraid of attracting what we don't want here. How many cases have already been cracked with the drug trade - how some people in Windsor are affiliated with that. I'm afraid of it growing. I'm afraid for my kid's safety. I'm afraid for the community at large for morals going down and everything being okay to do - just in the core. Where I live I don't feel unsafe, no, I don't feel unsafe there, but like that urban sprawl, I'm afraid that it's going to increase more than it already has and affect the bigger community.
Economic diversification and bringing jobs to Windsor is something both the residents and the candidates are talking about. What role should council play in helping that happen?
Council has a big role. They have to listen to the needs and the voiced concerns of the citizens. And then they voice them to the Mayor and they come up with a decision. They really have to listen and so far in our area, I'm not sure who I want to vote for. I still want to look at everybody's platforms and see where they stand. You really have to take everyone's suggestions seriously and implementing them as best you can.
What will influence your voting decisions most in this election? What skills and abilities does a candidate need to get your vote?
I have no idea where I stand on this. My husband's labour. He complains very little but when he does I feel so bad for him as labour. I'm a professional, I'm a teacher by trade. But for him it's a little more difficult. You see the division in class between a labour and a business person who's really successful, like his employer, for example. I don't know what it is exactly. He works hard and the economy's horrible and everybody knows the economy's horrible including employers so it's like, work harder. Just work harder and be thankful that you have a job. That's ridiculous!
Let's make our employees happy. Let's make these people who are doing our dirty work for us happy. I want somebody who would on a personal level just understand what everybody else is going through - that not everybody is high class and rich and has all this money. But at the same time that they have those basic things of respect and courtesy and dignity and all these things, and self respect too. When they respect themselves they're going to respect others more. I would wish that the candidates would reflect those values - for the entire community at large to get down to basics.
I would love to see more ... when you're listening to me, when you're listening to the community to take it into consideration that what I'm saying is maybe something that you felt at one point. Maybe you were hurting at one point financially, maybe you were hurting somehow, I don't know. The message overall, let's get back to basics and not lose the common good, to turn it back into a philanthropic kinda place. That's what I would love to see. But I don't find that everyone shares that same sentiment, unfortunately.