Skip to main content

Interview with a Mayor - Matt Brown

Hello readers!  It has been a while since I last wrote, but I have a very exciting post this time around.  My survey series with the TVBDSB Trustee candidates was so successful that I have decided to periodically carry out interviews with groups and individuals in my homes of London and Guelph.  These interviews begin with this interview with His Worship Matt Brown, Mayor of London. 

Spencer and Matt at a London Lightning game
Spencer: 
First and foremost, congratulations again on being sworn in as the Mayor of London.  Second, allow me to thank you again for agreeing to allow me to interview you for my blog.  Although I have a modest readership, I try to use my blog to provide insight into local politics in my two homes of London and Guelph.

I have prepared a few questions for you to answer and have tried to strike a balance between providing you an opportunity to discuss your vision for London, and answer some questions that Londoners may have for a new Mayor.

Spencer:
Although seen by many as a positive sign of change, the reality of the election results is that a great deal of “corporate knowledge” has been lost as a result of departing councillors.  Many local issues such as planning can have a steep learning curve.  What do you consider to be your role in supporting the new Council as they “learn the ropes”?

Mayor Brown:  
It is my role as the head of council to ensure that all councillors have the resources they need to be prepared to fulfil their duties.  That’s why on October 28 I met with senior staff and asked them to develop a comprehensive orientation program that took place over the 5 weeks between the election and inauguration.  This provided council elect with the information and tools that they require so they could hit the ground running on December 1.

Spencer:
You received almost 60% of the popular vote during the election.  Although this speaks to the wide support that you have across the city, it also means that 40% of Londoners chose to vote for a different candidate.  How will you reach out to these Londoners over the next four years and ensure that all citizen voices are heard?

Mayor Brown:
I was grateful to receive support in every ward across London –and I recognize now that I serve ALL Londoners whether they voted for me, voted for another candidate, or chose not to vote at all.  My door and my email are always open and I look forward to connecting with as many Londoners as I can over the course of this term.  Finally, I would note that citizen engagement is a priority for Council and I think you will find that this Council will be very open to making this government as open and accessible as possible to all Londoners.

Spencer:
Those of us who were able to watch the Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee meeting on December 3 noticed a distinct change in tone around the horseshoe.  The environment was much more collaborative and is a notable shift from the divisiveness of the previous Council.  How do you plan to maintain this environment of consensus building over the next four years?  Do you anticipate any challenges along the way?

Mayor Brown:
First of all, every member of this Council has been door-to-door for months and months and we all heard the same message: the citizens of London expect us to work together to get the job done.  That’s an important part of our mandate.  I have a track record of bringing people together and I intend to continue to focus on this.  This is why I brought forward our strategic planning process early in our mandate so that we can work together to identify strategic priorities that we share as a council, that we agree upon, and that we can rally around and focus on over the course of the next four year.  Essentially, the community is looking for stability and focus, and that is what we intend to deliver.

Spencer:
For those who may be unfamiliar, could you take a moment to explain the difference between the Strategic Plan that City Council is developing and The London Plan which several councillors referred to during the election campaign?

Mayor Brown: 
The London Plan is our new draft official plan that dictates how this city will grow over the next 15 – 20 years.  The Council Strategic Plan and the London Plan are certainly not mutually exclusive.  The Strategic Plan will outline what we will accomplish over the short term.  It will essentially align the previous plans we have developed such as the Downtown Master, The Strengthening Neighbourhoods Strategy, Age Friendly London, the Smart Moves 2030 Transportation Plan, and others.  Most importantly, this Strategic Plan will be linked to our new multi-year budget so we can not only identify our priorities, but articulate the resources available to execute on them.

Spencer:
Your rivals during the campaign brought a large focus on local economic development.  Paul Cheng indicated he had a strong business background, and Councillor Joe Swan has chaired the Investment and Economic Prosperity Committee at City Hall.  Some of your critics have suggested that economic development is not one of your strengths.  Can you discuss your vision of City Hall’s role in supporting local businesses and how Council can support economic development?

Mayor Brown: 
It is essential that we recognize that local government does not create jobs.  What we do is set the environment so that jobs and growth can occur.  Second to that, we need to recognize that there are 20,000 small businesses that are driving our economy.  If they want to grow, then the city needs to be with them 100% of the way.  This does not mean breaking rules or stretching rules, but it does means supporting small businesses in such a way that they can reach their end goals as quickly as possible.  I have worked with many small business owners many of whom feel that the process could be improved.

We also need to recognize that we are critically low on industrial lands that are the right size, and in the right place, and serviced, and ready to go.  We need to work with our economic development partners to make sure that this gap is addressed.

Spencer:
To close off the interview, If you are only able to accomplish one thing over the next four years, what would it be and why?

Mayor Brown: I am going to focus on providing exactly what Londoners asked for: a council that can work together, focus on the big ideas, and move our community forward.  Of course, a big part of that is the London Plan.  This is an opportunity of a generation.  The last Official Plan was approved was in 1989; the last before that was 1971.  We have the privilege and responsibility as the 2014-2018 Council to set the course for building a better city – not just for us, but for our children and our grandchildren.  



Once again, I want to thank Mayor Brown for agreeing to this interview.  I hope that is has provided you with some insight into the thoughts and goals of the new mayor of London.  If you are interested in contacting Mayor Brown, his official contact information is available on the City of London website

Author’s Note: The hyperlinks I have interspersed throughout the text have been placed there by me to provide readers with further reading where appropriate.  These links were not suggested by Mayor Brown during the interview.

Comments