Kelsey Santarossa is a first-term councillor for the Municipality of Lakeshore, and when elected at 25 she became the youngest elected woman in municipal government in Ontario. Now 27, she is also working as a community engagement coordinator in settlement and workforce development, and is the founder and chair of the Youth Council Coalition of Canada, a non-profit working to support Canadian youth councils. These may seem like big steps away from her years spent in the service industry, or at the University of Windsor studying languages, but her current roles are a direct reflection of the community that raised her. Surprise – it was Lakeshore!
With all of our conversations we begin with the following topic areas beginning with the guests personal story, then rising through geography and people level to better understand their community and how it fits into SW Ontario. Some of the questions include but are not exclusive too:
- Who are you? What is your day job (if not a full time politician)? How do you engage the community? Why did you run for council? What drives you?
- Who are your people? If you represent a ward what does that ward look like (urban, suburban, rural)? Who are your constituents – what do they do for a living, what are the issues you see in your inbox or talking to people week in and out.
- Describe your municipality as a whole. Paint a picture for someone who has not been to your town or community before or has only seen it as a sign on the side of a road. What is working, and what is not, what are you building towards?
- What is your region, what is in common/different between your community and your neighbourhood? Most municipalities are a part of some upper tier government, how does your community fit into that upper tier?
- Finally, how does your community and constituents fit into SW Ontario as a whole? Why should someone in Kitchener or London (as examples) care about your community? What should a Torontonian know about your community and why it is important?
About halfway through the conversation we pivot to specific issues. Although sometimes this gets jumbled into early topics. With Councillor Santarosa we touched on some but not all of these topics
- COVID Impacts – people, municipality etc.
- If COVID didn’t happen, what would we be talking about in early 2021?
- Opportunities/Challenges of being a young female Councillor?
- Name change of the Municipality of Lakeshore.
- Youth retention and community to Windsor.
- This dataset on place of work caught my eye (you might need to find Lakeshore in the community list and hit submit)
- Where do you want Lakeshore to be in 10 or 20 years?
- Magic policy wand – change one thing, what do you change and why?
Music by Deadly Roulette by Kevin MacLeod