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Making regional council more lucid to the layman

Colleen James says one of her top priorities as a regional councilor will be to help the public better understand how and why decisions are made
Colleen James
Colleen James

The party is over and it'll soon be time to get to work.

Colleen James, fresh off making history as the first Black woman ever elected to regional council, says she's looking forward to hitting the ground running.

"Yesterday was kind of the first morning I woke up and said, okay, we did this... we did it," James said, during an interview on The Mike Farwell Show on CityNews 570.

Did it indeed, James was not just one of four elected to represent the City of Kitchener on regional council on Monday, she also got more votes than any of her 13 competitors.

"We built an enterprise," she said. "Communications people, data people, strategy people, equity and inclusion people, finance people, events people, it literally was an enterprise we had to build to ensure that we would be able to do this and be successful."

Asked why she chose to set her sights on regional council specifically, James said much of that decision came down to the scope of the decisions facing the regional government -- not just looking at the here and now but also decades into the future.

"The services, the way we build, just thinking about the impact and recognizing that our community has changed, it is not what it was 20-years ago, 30-years ago, and now is the point we have to redesign some of how we do things because we are a changed community."

And for her, she says a top priority is to look into how those decisions get made and how the region connects with the community while making them.

"My platform was based on 'how', I wanted residents to know how I would make decisions at the table because I felt, especially at the regional level, people didn't know how the decisions are being made and then there would be a big decision and people would think, where did that come from?" said James.

"Some of the ways in which things have been done, we need to do them differently," she said. "The models need to change and I think the community has to be at the centre of informing everything in a way that's never been done before."

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