London’s Ward 6 candidates met Wednesday night to discuss affordability, inclusion, housing and other challenges facing the community.
Wednesday night’s all-candidates meeting featured heightened tension between two candidates — Mariam Hamou and Sam Trosow — during a discussion on topics including affordability, transit and climate.
The Ward 6 meeting was organized by the Urban League of London, who is hosting similar events for each ward. Ward 6 is the municipal ward in which Western University is located.
All three candidates running for Ward 6 city councillor were in attendance — Hamou, Trosow and Becky Williamson.
Hamou, the incumbent, began the night highlighting her London, Ont. heritage and discussed her previous work in national and international politics. She described her ideal London as “equitable, clean and safe.”
Trosow is a Western professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies and the Faculty of Law, and said his campaign priorities are affordability and inclusivity, highlighting his experience advocating in both areas.
Williamson, who worked in information technology at Western before receiving a degree in criminology and psychology, began by saying she feels her experience in IT will be an “asset” to city council because “technology is crucial to the efficient operations of a city.”
Hamou advocated heavily for more ethnic diversity and representation of women on London’s city council. When asked about a rise in hate-related crimes, she referenced her status as one of only four women on city council and one of two people of colour.
All candidates agreed that affordable housing was a serious issue facing London residents. Trosow described London’s current council as a “disappointment” with respect to housing, citing a recent example of council voting against putting in the maximum number of affordable housing units.
Hamou and Trosow disagreed in particular over policing. After Hamou said she was “all about hiring police” and supported a London police request to hire 52 new officers, Trosow directly opposed her — and Williamson, who also supported an increase in police capacity — in his rebuttal.
“So there we go, we’re not going to raise taxes and we’re going to hire a whole bunch of new police,” Trosow said. “You can’t do both.” Hamou replied Trosow that it is possible to do both.
At one point, Hamou left the auditorium when questioned on her voting record by a member of the audience. She did not return until after the end of the debate. The audience member was later revealed to be her uncle and a former London mayoral candidate. Hamou told the London Free Press she left because she felt unsafe in the auditorium.
During Hamou’s absence, candidates were asked to address the issue of homelessness, specially on Richmond Row. Williamson told the audience some people “want to be homeless.”
“Some people just don’t want to go off the street,” said Williamson.
Trosow disagreed, saying people don’t “want” to be homeless or sick. He said he believes homelessness is connected to other societal issues like mental health problems and addictions and hopes to address these issues as root causes of homelessness.