The Urbanite – Jon Liedtke – Dec. 18, 2013
Windsor’s Ward 7 byelection has come and gone and Irek Kusmierczyk has been sworn in as Windsor’s latest city councillor. Kusmierczyk replaces Percy Hatfield who was recently elected to represent Windsor-Tecumseh for the NDP in the provincial legislature.
“It feels great, absolutely terrific and it’s been a hectic first week, but it’s been wonderful,” said Kusmierczyk. “I’ve met some incredible people at city hall who have made sure that I have a nice soft landing before Monday’s council meeting.”
Kusmierczyk said that he knew from the beginning of the campaign that he would have to outwork the other candidates and that the byelection would be close. Kusmierczyk beat runner up Angelo Marignani by less than 50 votes.
“I knew we were going to have to work twice as hard as some of the other candi- dates in particular,” he said.
Kusmierczyk explained that his platform was a combination of traditional standard city council issues (controlling spending, lowering taxes and improving roads, sewers and infrastructure more broadly) and a focus on education.
“I felt that I was the only candidate that actually put forward a bolder, innovative idea which is basically that city council play a role in education, play a role in making sure that we have the best schools. in Ontario and that we prepare young people for a 21st century knowledge economy,” said Kusmierczyk. “By no means am I advocating that local government takeover the provincial jurisdiction of education… what I mean is simply that we can supplement what is already being done on the ground and bring more partnerships to the table.”
Kusmierczyk believes city council can better help prepare youth for the economy by playing the “role of catalyst, of mobilizing partners from industry, university, the college, the school boards and other partners” to address the local youth unemployment rate, skilled worker shortage and a skills gap.
“Windsor has the potential to become what Kitchener and Waterloo is to the IT sector; we could be the same in terms of robotics and automation,” he said.
Kusmierczyk said he’s excited to represent Ward 7 since they’ve “been without a councillor for way too long and it’s time to catch up.”
Jonathon Liedtke is the managing editor of The Urbanite, Windsor’s alternative newspaper. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.