A slate of new candidates has come forward to run for Victoria city council Oct. 20.
Sarah Potts, Sharmarke Dubow and Laurel Collins, all hoping to make their political debuts, are supported by Together Victoria, a grassroots organization focused on “creating an affordable, inclusive Victoria.” The candidates want to help the city develop into a more sustainable community for a wider demographic.
Sarah Potts, 34, is a single mother who works as volunteer manager at Our Place. She moved to Victoria from Ottawa in 2011, and studied political science and human dimensions of climate change at the University of Victoria. She wants to take a multi-pronged approach to help people who are struggling to find affordable housing, including young families and retirees.
“Not only are we facing a housing crisis, but it’s impacting employment, and local businesses need to reduce their hours and close their doors,” Potts says.
“But we have significant power on City council to approach this.”
Sharmarke Dubow says his biggest priority is to give back the love, opportunity and dignity to Victorians he received six years ago. He fled war-torn Somalia at age eight and for the next 20 years struggled to tried a place to settle. He arrived in Canada at 28 and found Victoria to be a welcoming place he could finally call home.
“I never thought I’d call Canada home, let alone run for office,” Dubow says. “I am running to make our city more affordable and inclusive and thrive, and I believe the only way we can truly do that is to work together.”
Dubow has plenty of experience working with marginalized groups.
He works as refugee volunteer support services facilitator at the Inter-Cultural Association, and is co-chair of the Canadian Council for Refugees’ settlement and integration working group. He is also president of Victoria Coalition for Survivors of Torture and is on a steering committee with the Victoria Tenant Action Group.
Laurel Collins wants to focus on creating more affordable housing, being environmentally sustainable, and creating a more inclusive community. She has a passion for arts and culture and has served as executive director of the Victoria Multicultural Society.
A sessional lecturer at the University of Victoria; Collins teaches political sociology, social justice studies and social inequality. She has lived in Victoria the past 11 years and received her masters degree in human security and peace building from Royal Roads University, which helped in her work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Uganda. While she’s worked around the world, she remains passionate about issues close to home.
“I’m running for city council, but also for the CRD board,” she says. “I was involved in the fight with the Shawnigan toxic watershed and it hammered home how important it is to care for our watersheds and environment.”
She also has personal experience with a housing crisis. After her mother left an abusive relationship, Collins says, the family struggled to find affordable housing.
“Women in our community are facing the same challenges as we did, in a city where we have almost zero vacancy rates,” she says. “It makes it a big struggle to leave abusive relationships and I want to help fix that.”
The three will officially announce their candidacy and release their platform at City Hall at 10 a.m. on Saturday (July 14).