The Urbanite – Jon Liedtke – Sept. 10, 2014
Youngest municipal candidate has big plans to improve Windsor
A week after Joey Wright celebrates his birthday, he hopes to also be celebrating his election to public office.
The soon to be 24-year-old is the youngest candidate in Windsor’s municipal election, but the fact that he’s nearly half the age of his competition doesn’t diminish his prospects nor ideas.
Wright, a Ward 5 candidate, is focused on improving transportation across the city, whether it be by bicycle, e-bike, automobile or public transportation.
“I take the bus. I can’t go to Leamington, Essex… [residents] need the ability to get around… and the only way we can do that sufficiently and adequately is if we improve our transportation system”, he said.
Wright’s approach to fixing transit is two pronged: he wants to improve transportation in the city itself, but also wants to focus on creating a regional transportation network with other communities in Essex county. “We want people to come into the city from the county, [but] we also want people to go and explore the areas and the events that we have to offer.”
“[Make] sure people can get from Point A to Point B, whether it be biking, or taking a bus, or driving a car.”
Wright graduated from Walkerville Collegiate Institute having took on the Greater Essex County School Board by starting the first Gay Straight Alliance. Since leaving Walkerville roughly seven years ago, today every public school in the county has a GSA.
“I feel proud. It was nice that other students were motivated to continue what I started,” said Wright. “I’m really happy to see that the school board has jumped right in with it as well, they sponsor events and they help run GSA conferences every year.”
Following high school, Wright sought to immerse himself with local community groups, volunteering and serving on the board of directors for both Windsor Pride and the AIDS Committee of Windsor. “I just wanted to… be out there, get involved … and make a difference, help make a change and get out there and start talking to people.”
When asked why not run for school board trustee considering his past experience, he said “trustee races are often overshadowed by council and the mayoral race” and that he “wanted to take a different path. I’ve already done the school board thing… I wanted to get more involved with the nitty gritty and the people that live in Ward Five and the city and get involved in the municipal politics scene.”
Wright faces four opponents: Randy Diestelmann, Sam Drakich, John Middleton and incumbent Ed Sleiman.
Wright believes his age is an asset and is not shy to advertise it. “They’re double my age, which is a stark reality when you get a picture with my four opponents and then me,” he said. “… I’m young, I’m new… I have more of an open concept and willingness to hear new ideas.”
Wright is using social media to communicate with constituents and residents broadly as he sees dialogue between council and the community “sorely lacking.”
He believes taxes should be kept as low as possible to encourage investment and new business opportunities but explained “if we’re going to raise taxes, just tell [constituents] … people want better services and more improvements… that needs to be paid for, we have to find a way to pay for it.”
Wright wants to see Windsor “act as a hub, attracting people here” and showcasing the region. “If Windsor can market itself as a hub and get people here… Windsor doesn’t have to be the [sole] destination, it can be where you stop and find other destinations.”
Unafraid to mince words, Wright made it clear collaboration is the only way to get Windsor on the map more broadly. “We need to start working together, we need to pull our heads out our asses and be like, Listen, we all need to figure out a way to get Windsor [and] Essex County as a whole to be known everywhere else.”
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.