Iain Russell wears his beliefs like a badge of honour, or in his case, like tattoos of honour. On his torso, he’s got the Charter of Rights, Section 2. On his wrist, he got the words City of Victoria indelibly inked this past summer.“We’re so lucky to live in a place like this,” he says. At 24 years old, Russell has lived his entire life in Victoria, and doesn’t rule out one day entering politics. For now, however, he loves his line of work. The downtown resident also works downtown, at two different service jobs, totaling 60 hours per week. In his free time, he maintains a fashion blog and tweets regularly about civic affairs. He could just be the city’s biggest fan and he took a public stand in support of the city’s plan to replace the Johnson Street Bridge in the lead up to the referendum last year. He continues to be on the bridge advisory panel. While Russell is also a proponent of light rail transit, neither this hot-button issue or any other will guide his vote in the Nov. 19 municipal election. When asked what election issues are important to him, Russell says it’s the wrong question. “The problem, I feel, with civic politics is making it about issues rather than the people running,” he explains. “I always love that with city councillors, you get to look at their profiles and even meet them and gauge what they’re like as a person and vote for what they’re like as a person.” So what kind of characteristics make a strong city councillor? A good listener tops Russell’s list. “There’s a few of them that do such a good job of not speaking too much…. They’re not talking to the press trying to get their slant across, and you can tell that what they’re doing is going out talking to people and listening.” Being approachable is also important. That means having an approachable manner, but also being present at public events, Russell says. A related, third criteria is social-media literacy. “Facebook is a great example,” he says. “If you’re friends with a city councillor, you know where they are when they are, and they’ve invited you to come.” Having a Blackberry or an iPhone, to get emails when you need them, is a must in this day and age, he says. Russell qualifies, however, that posts or tweets must be done in a genuine way. “It’s not just the ‘look at me!’ ‘look at me!’ because that’s being media savvy…. I love it when they do something personal.”Using social media is important to keep people involved, Russell says. “Especially if you want to keep younger people involved too. That’s how we operate.”
Russell’s question to Victoria’s non-incumbent candidates:
So often politicians will tell you what they’ll do, and not why they’re doing it. Why, as a human being, are you trying to help people? What is it that drives your passion that you feel you should be our representative?
To see the answers to these questions click (here) to go to the full article.