October 22, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 29  

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Candidates ignore issues

Yesterday's mayoral debate on campus was a welcome opportunity for the Western community to engage the municipal electoral process and ask the candidates where they stood on concerns common to students across the city.

The opportunity, however, was squandered as the so-called debate dissolved into a mere information session with but a handful of students' questions arriving at the very end of the event. The format of the forum was flawed and did little to spur debate or enthusiasm among the candidates, save for one notable, police-dog advocating exception.

Even veteran politician and current London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco was unimpressive, though her attempt to connect with the leadership of the University Students' Council here at Western was noteworthy. Yet this barely graces the surface of student issues in the city.

As a consequence, students were hard-pressed to take genuine interest in any of the candidates or the election in general. This is democratically inexcusable and students should not be held directly responsible for what has traditionally been a low voter turnout. Candidates who said it is the responsibility of students to vote should be made aware it is their responsibility to address the concerns of students first.

With students receiving an apparently low political priority in this election, many mayor-hopefuls - who also seem to be concerned this election has become a two-person race - now have a chance to distinguish themselves to students looking for a candidate that will listen, represent and act on their concerns.

We therefore challenge the candidates for mayor of the City of London to articulate their solutions to the problems facing many Western students.

As housing prices are spiralling upwards with seemingly no end in sight, the incoming council under the mayor's leadership needs to quickly and effectively demonstrate control over property rents, as lackadaisical landlords continue to ignore the pressing financial situations of students.

Packed morning bus routes, inadequate city coverage and early closing times at night, force students to shell out cash for taxis or cars, adding to the already chaotic traffic problems London faces every day. Valued by both students and other residents alike, a new transportation policy has to be established.

These issues are but a sample of students' concerns. It is incumbent upon those who want to represent the City of London - which includes students - to seek feedback from students not just now, but also after voting day. We're watching.




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