I grew up in a small mining town in northern Ontario, the only daughter of Irish immigrants who valued education and hard work.
I came to Hamilton to attend McMaster University then to Queen’s and the University of Toronto. I went on to work in municipal government with a focus on citizen engagement. I have now lived most of my adult life in Hamilton.
During that time I have lived in the Ward 1 neighbourhoods of Ainslie Wood, Strathcona and now Kirkendall.
Senior staff member in local and regional governments
Having worked in senior staff positions in Hamilton’s local and regional governments for close to ten years, I know how government works. I served as Mayor Bob Wade’s Chief of Staff for the two years immediately following amalgamation. I have a Masters degree in Urban Planning and a Masters degree in Political Science. Let’s just say that I have always been interested in how government serves residents.
I left my job in government a month before the birth of my eldest child. Since those days, my husband, Terry Cooke, and I have raised three tremendous, independent and compassionate children, all of whom attend Ward 1 schools.
Focusing on bringing citizens together and learning how cities work
Over the years, I have remained active in my community as a parent, a volunteer, and a city builder.
I have focused my efforts on bringing residents together to learn how cities work. We have filled LIUNA Station and McMaster Innovation Park with residents from all parts of Hamilton to hear from experts and heads of local government about transit, housing, immigration and local economies, women and cities, and safe streets. I have worked deliberately and persistently to build common ground among neighbours and community groups. I think we need more of this at Hamilton City Hall.
I’m a proud board member of The Mustard Seed, Hamilton’s co-operative grocery store which aims to support local farmers, local producers and community. I also sit on the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board’s transition advisory committee for the New North Secondary School. I was active in my opposition to putting a Casino in Hamilton’s downtown. And, I have been vocal and organized in my call for safer, shared streets.
With my children well on their way to becoming active citizens in their own right, I feel that it’s time for me to step back into local government, this time with the hopes of being your city councillor. I’m proud to say that my children are excited for me. That means the world to me.
I want to earn your trust and your vote, and I do not take that for granted. I promise, if you honour me with both, I will serve Ward 1 with all of my skills, my passion, my hard work and experience. Every single day. That is my heartfelt commitment to you.
Some of the Things I Believe In
Strong, Healthy & Inclusive Neighbourhoods – The Building Blocks of a Great City
I believe that great cities rest on the shoulders of great neighbourhoods. And great neighbourhoods are safe, connected, green, active and inclusive places. There should be a place for everyone in every neighbourhood.
There are almost 200 distinct neighbourhoods in Hamilton. Ward 1 has four neighbourhoods – Ainslie Wood, Kirkendall, Strathcona and Westdale.
As a mother, I have always wanted to my kids to know their neighbourhood, and my neighbourhood to know my kids. I want them to understand what it takes to make a neighbourhood healthy. As an urban planner, I know that a healthy neighbourhood is the result of choices we make. It doesn’t just happen.
We are healthier and safer when we connect with each other. Despite some real differences in issues between neighbourhoods, connectivity between all neighbourhoods is good for our city. As your Ward 1 City Councillor, I will connect neighbours and neighbourhoods. I will never divide them.
Follow the Vision to Get to Where We Want to Go
I learned a long time ago that the values we hold shape how we listen, how we think and what actions we take.
The City’s vision is to be the best place to raise a child and age successfully.
We need to make this more than just a slogan. We need to make it a reality. And to do that we need to lead with purpose.
I believe that the councillors who sit around the horseshoe at Hamilton City Hall must ask themselves – – how does each and every action fit with our city’s vision of being the best place to raise a child and age successfully.
When we check everything against how our ideas, our plans and our investments support this vision, we make it easier for residents to understand why certain decisions are taken or not taken. We make it easier for residents to hold their elected councillors to account.
Act As a City, Not 15 Cities
If you’re like me, you pay attention to what happens at Hamilton City Hall. And, if you’re like me, you make not like everything you see and hear.
My goal is to serve the distinct needs of Ward 1 and each of its neighbourhoods, while, at the same time, helping to ensure we are a strong, prosperous and unified city.
My goal is to prepare Hamilton for tomorrow. To look ahead, move forward, and build a city that can offer opportunity and hope to the minds and talents of the next generation.
Hamilton deserves our best efforts. Every single day. Hamilton Council must lead by example. Be on time. Listen to learn. Govern with purpose.
And, act as one city. Not 15 wards.
The 3 S’s – – Smart, Strategic, Sustainable Investments
I prefer the term “investing” to spending.
Spending has no purpose, other than just spending what’s been given and is available.
Investing is deliberative. It has a purpose. The focus is on the return.
What are the three S’s?
Smart comes from learning. From doing your homework. From studying what other cities are doing, or not doing.
Strategic is selecting the best possible actions that are within our budget and will support our vision.
Sustainable is preparing for a complex and uncertain future. A future that will be affected by climate, trade wars, employment changes, migration, crumbling infrastructure and the need for modern infrastructure, affordability and things not yet seen or felt. Sustainable is living within our means, investing for the future, and identifying the returns we hope to achieve with the public’s investments.