Why I want to serve as your City Councillor

Jesse Helmer for Ward 4I’m running for city council to help make Ward 4 a better place for Londoners to live and work. We have some serious challenges here in the city, and we need a city council that works together effectively and is focused on getting results for Londoners.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen what happens with a divided city council. We can’t afford to delay action that we need to take now. It’s time for a change and for a new generation of Londoners to step up.

I believe that we need politicians who are willing to take some political risks to bring about real changes that will make our city better for residents.

I believe we need to be candid about the tradeoffs involved in our policy choices and that we can have "politics in full sentences," to borrow a phrase from Edmonton's Mayor, Don Iveson.

I have a few ideas about how we can make this city more fair, more prosperous and easier to get around, starting with fair taxation and ending the sprawl subsidy. Please share your ideas with me and with the other candidates.

I’ve lived all over Ontario, in small towns and big cities. I see so much potential in our ward and I want it to be, and be seen to be, one of the best places to live in the whole city.

I’m optimistic about Ward 4 because I believe in the people who live here. Some of the most creative, hard-working and entrepreneurial people in the city live in Carling, Huron Heights and East London. Working together and on their own, residents of Ward 4 are building a better city every day.

We need a councillor who will support those efforts and make sure the decisions made at city hall are good for Ward 4 as well as the whole city.

Working together, I know we can do it.

Jesse


About Me

I’m an entrepreneur, political activist, public policy wonk and proud Londoner.

I’ve worked in government, the non-profit sector and the private sector. In March, I joined a startup, Groundforce Digital, as Vice-President, Data & Learning, working out of Hacker Studios on Dundas Street.

I believe politics can be a force for good in our community. I’ve been involved in politics since I was a teenager as a member of several political parties, as a student journalist covering politics and as an elected student representative. I was honoured to serve as a councillor representing arts co-op students at University of Waterloo, on the board of directors of the student union, on the Senate of the university and as president of the student newspaper. I learned that to be an effective elected representative, you need to be inclusive, transparent, responsive to your constituents and able to disagree respectfully with your fellow representatives (we're not going to agree on everything!). I’ve also worked as a volunteer on local, provincial and national political campaigns.

Curious by nature, I enjoy asking questions, learning about issues and bringing people together to figure out how we can innovate to solve problems. Recently, I led a team of grassroots Liberals who championed the idea of a basic income pilot to dramatically reduce poverty in Canada, reaching out directly to Members of Parliament, policy experts and Canadians more broadly. We were thrilled when the idea was adopted as party policy at the national convention. I also facilitated the Emerging Leaders working group on economic prosperity, which recommended at London X that we invest in a municipal fibre optic network to make affordable high speed internet more widely available to Londoners and to provide an economic advantage to London businesses.

Because I believe that Londoners are experts on their own lives and often have very good ideas on how to make our city a better place to live and work, I started Better London a couple of years ago to provide Londoners with a platform to share their ideas, get their neighbours to contribute, and create a better community and city together. Now in the capable hands of Michael McAlpine, Better London has helped in a small way to support the campaign to Save Lorne Ave, to bring food trucks to London and to encourage people to opt-out of the Yellow Pages.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my life, and with the help of my parents, student loans and a bursary, I earned a Master of Public Administration from Queen’s University, where I focused on the non-profit sector and international trade. I then joined the staff of the Loran Scholar program in Toronto, where I worked with a great team of colleagues and volunteers to raise over $20 million from business and community leaders that we invested in hundreds of young Canadians all over the country who demonstrate outstanding character, service and leadership potential.

Through my work and volunteer experience I've helped to develop or overseen budgets ranging from several hundred thousand dollars (student newspaper) to several million dollars (at the scholarship foundation, the student union and on the Senate of the university). I have some experience asking uncomfortable questions about budgets (ask me about the time the now Governor General yelled at me in a Senate meeting).

For over 20 years, my Dad was a branch manager for TD Canada Trust, which meant our family moved every few years to a new community in Ontario. Moving got harder as we all got older and our family eventually settled in Bracebridge, where I attended high school and worked part-time as a crew coordinator at the local McDonald’s and as a cook at Santa’s Village. I spent a lot of time riding my motorcycle, shooting pool and playing golf. These days I’m riding a bicycle, but you’ll still find me on the course at Fanshawe Park or River Road.

It was through volunteering at the student newspaper that I met my wife, Adina, who grew up in London and attended Knollwood Park, Lorne Ave and Central and has been working as a casual postal clerk at Canada Post for the past three-and-a-half years. After living in Kitchener-Waterloo, Kingston and Toronto, we moved to London six years ago to be closer to Adina’s side of the family. We didn’t have a car, so we rented an apartment on Proudfoot Lane to be close to a grocery store and bus routes while staying within cycling distance of the train station. I kept working a couple of days a week in Toronto, so I’ve taken a lot of trips on Via Rail. We bought our first house four-and-a-half years ago in Huron Heights.