RJ Aquino: Lack of affordability is central issue in Vancouver election

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      All of the stories I’ve heard from the many people I’ve met have inspired me to become a public servant. I want to understand, engage, and involve communities in our city in a meaningful capacity to create positive change. Vancouver is a beautiful, complex city and it has shaped me into who I am and taught me many lessons. It’s the optimism and enthusiasm of Vancouverites that drive me forward to work for a better future in the context of an always evolving Vancouver.

      I became active in community organizing as I wanted to build a better future for the next generation. I’m a new father and I’ve been working with the Filipino community on various initiatives because I wanted to build a community for my daughter. I wanted her to be proud of her heritage and I wanted to be an example for her of a positive and active member of the community.

      As I became more aware of the issues affecting the Filipino community, I discovered that these were also issues affecting many residents of Vancouver. I wanted to know more and I wanted to make a difference. I discovered I have an ability to articulate for people their concerns and their aspirations. From my experiences with politicians on from all levels of government, I’ve seen what effective leaders and politicians can do to enable real change. I’m motivated by all of the people I’ve met and I want to continue to engage Vancouver’s communities so they understand their potential and role in shaping our city.

      We need councillors who can understand and advocate for all Vancouverites. Every resident benefits when diverse communities are engaged and represented.

      For me, lack of affordability is the central issue in the upcoming election. We need affordable housing for working families, for seniors, for young people. We need public transit that’s affordable and accessible. We need quality, affordable public childcare for families like my wife and I and our baby girl. I pledge, not just to talk at City Hall about the crisis of affordability, not just to criticize, but to work for positive solutions that benefit all of us.

      I believe it’s important to engage young people. It’s important they understand how the city functions and how decisions are made and that they know they are a part of that decision making process. We need young people to know what’s going on. I want them to know so they care. I want them to care so they take action. I want them to take action so we can see change.

      For many, at first glance, politics can seem like an unsavoury mix of cynicism, pessimism, and confrontation. But upon closer examination, it’s mostly a misinterpreted telling of stories of people wanting to make the world a better place. One of the reasons why I’m entering public service is because I want to enhance that storytelling. I want to tell a story that is greater than the cynicism, pessimism, and confrontation. We’re out to weave a story around building ideas, trust, and communities and availability of opportunity.

      Vancouver is often in the spotlight for being one of the most livable cities in the world. Vancouver should be highlighted as an example other cities aspire to when it comes to protecting its vulnerable citizens, accommodating young families, and cherishing its history.

      There are short term challenges and long term goals. Real change happens when we can effectively address both. When we can articulate this and work collaboratively with consideration for future generations, we can truly create a Vancouver for everyone.

      RJ Aquino is a Coalition of Progressive Electors candidate for Vancouver city council. He is the cofounder of Tulayan, an organization that builds bridges between the Filipino community here and abroad with other communities in Vancouver. Aquino also serves on the board of Vancouver’s Asian Heritage Month. A proud father, Aquino lives with his new daughter and wife in East Vancouver’s Collingwood.



      S Wong

      Nov 12, 2011 at 3:13pm

      I strongly support the notion that diversity is necessary on the City Council, but I question RJ on his promise to build affordable housing when it doesn't seem that there is a substantive method that he is proposing to achieve that goal.

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