City council candidate Kemi Akapo: Potentially the Toast of the ‘Town’
Akapo says safe and affordable housing is a priority for Town Ward
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.)