City coun­cil can­di­date Kemi Akapo: Po­ten­tially the Toast of the ‘Town’

Akapo says safe and af­ford­able hous­ing is a pri­or­ity for Town Ward

The Peterborough Examiner - - Opinion - ROSE­MARY GANLEY Rose­mary Ganley is a writer, teacher and ac­tivist. Reach her at rgan­[email protected]

Kemi Akapo could well be­come the toast of Town Ward this com­ing elec­tion. With its pop­u­la­tion of 10,000 peo­ple, the area com­prises the down­town streets, stately old homes, stu­dent digs, per­for­mance sites, busi­nesses, restau­rants, the wa­ter­front and cul­tural cen­tres. In fact, she chose Mar­ket Hall for her cam­paign launch Aug. 1.

She will face Jane David­son, Jenny Lan­ci­ault, Dean Pap­pas and Jim Rus­sell.

Kemi’s own back­ground has prepared her for lead­er­ship roles. She was born into the Yoruba tribe in La­gos, Nige­ria, to a fam­ily of pro­fes­sional par­ents, and spent some for her child­hood in the city of Ouagadougou, Burk­ina Faso. She grew up speak­ing English. She re­calls a child­hood of so­cial ser­vice led by her mother who took her on weekly vis­its to an or­phan­age.

Af­ter fol­low­ing her older brother (she has three of these) to Trent in 2005- 2009, she stud­ied English lit­er­a­ture and in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment. Fol­low­ing grad­u­a­tion, Kemi was scooped up by Trent to work in the Of­fice of Stu­dent Af­fairs where she worked for five years un­til be­com­ing Co­or­di­na­tor of Set­tle­ment Ser­vices for the New Cana­di­ans’ Cen­tre four years ago. She con­tin­ued to take cour­ses in women’s and gen­der stud­ies.

She makes vis­its to her par­ents, now in Mon­treal.

Kemi says, “I have be­hind me 14 years of liv­ing here, and four years ob­serv­ing Coun­cil closely. Mon­day night for me is de­voted to City Coun­cil, in per­son or by video.”

The first pri­or­ity in her ward is hous­ing. “I want to work to­wards en­sur­ing every­one has safe and af­ford­able hous­ing. In ad­di­tion, fi­nan­cial ac­count­abil­ity is cru­cial. I have ex­pe­ri­ence in good stew­ard­ship of public funds, al­ways spend­ing con­sid­er­able time draw­ing up pro­pos­als and then ac­count­ing to fun­ders for the dis­burse­ment of money.”

This, I ex­pect will be a use­ful skill on Coun­cil.

She is an ex­pert in the re­set­tle­ment of new­com­ers, and finds great joy in it. “It con­nects me to com­mu­nity ser­vices, busi­nesses and em­ploy­ers.”

An­other of her im­por­tant con­cerns is men­tal health, es­pe­cially for the young. “A city that is in­clu­sive is bet­ter for all cit­i­zens” she says. “We have a way to go in this area”.

Speak­ing face to face to peo­ple is her pre­ferred method of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. “I have be­gun door knock­ing be­tween four and eight p. m. let­ting peo­ple know I am run­ning and hear­ing from them about their con­cerns. So far, I am hear­ing about the con­di­tion of our roads, the short­age of ac­com­mo­da­tion and the of­fi­cial plan”.

“I will be us­ing a web­site and lit­er­a­ture, but I know that noth­ing is as ef­fec­tive as a per­sonal call. I have a great team of vol­un­teers and sup­port­ers.”

A con­cern shared by all elec­tion ob­servers is that the per­cent­age of those who vote has been drop­ping slowly, down to al­most 40 per­cent in the last elec­tion four years ago. At the same time, on-line vot­ing is up, sug­gest­ing it suits many: the home­bound. stu­dents, busy work­ers and those with dis­abil­i­ties.

The open­ing day of ad­vance and on-line vot­ing for this elec­tion is Oct 9. The voter must be on the Vot­ers

List and should check that so as to get a pin num­ber for on-line vot­ing. A voter can still regis­ter on the day of the elec­tion if they are not on the list. Many peo­ple still pre­fer to walk to a poll and put their pa­per bal­lot in the box.

Kemi Akapo is a fol­lower of the arts and well-known among Peter­bor­ough stu­dents, artists and so­cial jus­tice ad­vo­cates. She has vol­un­teered for three years at the Warm­ing Room overnight shel­ter.

She has a strong green con­scious­ness and a steady, lis­ten­ing pres­ence.

“I have en­ergy, time and a strong sense of civic re­spon­si­bil­ity” she says. She also has a mea­sured and care­ful ap­proach to is­sues, which sug­gests she could be very valu­able on Coun­cil.

(My apolo­gies to two can­di­dates in Mon­aghan Ward whom I didn’t men­tion in my ar­ti­cle on can­di­date Char­maine Magumbe: Jeff West­lake and Dave McGowan.)

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