Katia Maxwell looking to bring a new perspective to Stratford city council

Rogers TV broadcaster and Fanshawe contemporary media professor Katia Maxwell is running for Stratford city council in this October's municipal election. Galen Simmons/The Beacon Herald/Postmedia Network SF

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With more than 20 years’ experience covering the places, people and events of Stratford for Rogers TV, Katia Maxwell knows how things are done in this city.

Having devoted much of her career to telling Stratford’s stories, the broadcaster and Fanshawe contemporary media professor is now looking to influence those stories by vying for a seat on council in October’s municipal election.

“Community TV is grounds-up, it’s grassroots, it’s those really interesting stories – one-on-one stories – that most don’t have the opportunity to uncover, so because of that and because of how our programming works, I’ve had a chance to meet individuals, groups, politicians at all levels and get a really nice, grounded understanding of what’s going on, which I think is an advantage,” Maxwell said.

Having observed the recent shift to a much more adversarial tone of discourse surrounding issues of the day, not only in Stratford, but nationally and around the world, Maxwell decided to run for local government to bring objectivity and open, honest communication back into the local, political realm.

“Vehemently, passionately, we should be able to disagree, but it shouldn’t get ugly,” Maxwell said, speaking of the divisiveness she has seen on local social media pages.

As a journalist and a teacher of journalism students, she understands the need for public input in everything a municipal council does, but she also understands the frustration people feel when the wheels of government aren’t turning fast enough.

As a single mother, a woman of colour, and someone who has volunteered with numerous local organizations that address issues of poverty and housing, domestic violence, and mental health, Maxwell said she can bring the needs of the groups that help Stratford’s most vulnerable residents, as well as those who feel underrepresented at city hall, to the council table.

“Right now, I think that cohesiveness is challenged. I think there’s been a lot of division in this last iteration of council, and I hope to be a voice that can help bring us together with the mayor as leader and with my fellow councillors really working together to move the community forward, because we’ve got some big stuff to tackle,” Maxwell said.

Specifically, Maxwell, if elected, would like to keep a close watch on how the Grand Trunk Community Hub is developed, and that it is done so not only in a way that strengthens the city economically, but social, culturally and environmentally as well.

She also wants to ensure affordable housing projects like the city’s Britannia Street social housing initiative are planned so that they are conducive to improving the lives of the people who will eventually live there.

“When you look at that, going up where it’s going up, and then you look at transit – how are the people that live there going to get to their jobs when you have a transit system that perhaps isn’t as reliable or smoothly run as it could be?” Maxwell said. “When you look at poverty and affordability, there’s other streams, I guess, that get pulled into it… There’s bits and pieces needed in a community. It’s not just that individual piece – it’s not just affordable housing.

“…It’s great that we’re building (affordable housing), but maybe we need to look at where we’re building them and how that works with the community as a whole strategically.”

Maxwell is still in the process of bringing together a campaign team that give her the best chance at winning a seat on council. Come September, she and her team will be ready to not only spread their vision for the city, but also listen to the needs and desires of its residents.

gsimmons@postmedia.com

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