Youth an advantage, says council challenger

[attach]1691[/attach]Ward 14 candidate Jules-José Kerlinger says inexperience won’t be a knock against him during this fall’s municipal election campaign.

In fact, he sees it as an advantage.

“With over half of city council having been in power for over 15 years, plagued by a culture of complacency and patronage, it is time for new ideas, a new vision and change,” he trumpets on the first page of his website.

“I’m going to show the people of Parkdale–High Park that I’m somebody who is very serious even though I am young,” Kerlinger said.

That said, the 24 year old candidate looks to past politicians for inspiration.

“Sir Wilfred Laurier,” he said, naming his biggest political role model. “He built bridges, was very accessible. I truly admire him.”

In building his own bridges, Kerlinger said the people he’s hoping to represent aren’t shy about sharing their concerns.

Chief among these concerns is the issue of what Kerlinger termed the decline of parts of the ward.

“Certain areas have just declined, are falling apart, littered with garbage and nothing’s being done,” Kerlinger said.

He’s concerned that as more and more businesses leave the area due to extended road construction along Bloor and Roncesvalles, things will just get worse.

“People lose confidence when they walk down the street and just see a bunch of vacancies. I do believe the efforts need to be done to attract businesses,” he said, citing the need for green space, flower planters and other beautification.

“We need to have people feel (proud) that they are from Parkdale–High Park,” he said.

A graduate of Runnymede Collegiate and York University, where he studied English and Political Science, Kerlinger first became interested in politics following the federal sponsorship scandal of 2006.

“I started to learn how the system worked,” he said.

One such contribution he’d like to make on a city level would be to help improve the TTC, especially on the issue of access. In getting to and from his job at an insurance company, Kerlinger rides the TTC and says he understand its problems firsthand.

“It almost feels like it’s from the 1970s, it hasn’t progressed. I think a lot of changes need to be done,” he said.

Kerlinger said that people in the southern portion of Parkdale–High Park have a hard time getting to the subway. He said he’d like to see the situation improved here, but also in more outlying areas that he says have long been without convenient public transit options.

Up against five other challengers and incumbent councillor Gord Perks, Kerlinger’s got his work cut out for him. His website features a section highlighting incumbent councillor Gord Perks’ voting record, aggressively charging that it shows the councillor votes against the ward’s best interests. In attempting to oust the councillor the young candidate plans to do it the old-fashioned way.

“I’m just going to keep pushing forward, talking to people, having my ears open so I can hear their issues,” he said.