The Coast sent all 53 candidates running in HRM’s municipal election the same 15-question survey in order to help their residents and our readers know a little more about who’s running for council. Here’s what Mohammed Ehsan from Halifax—Bedford Basin West sent back.
Why should residents of your district vote for you?
One of the main reasons I am running in this election is the mere fact that there is a disconnect between us, the residents and the city council. The majority of us do not know what’s going on; we are not consulted on policies that affect our day-to-day lives. I would like to change the way we interact with the city government. Rather than giving our residents a “to-do” list for the next four years and expect them to be happy about it, I am proposing the opposite. We plan to have four monthly town-hall meetings in different neighborhoods of our district because different neighborhoods have different challenges. It is the residents who would instruct me what needs to be done. My responsibilities are to listen to them, work on those issues, work with the rest of the team at the city council and get things done. City government is the grassroots-level government and my job is to bring this government back to the citizens. It is the only way we can make the government more transparent, open and accountable. This is ‘the’ way we can empower citizens.
What’s something you wish people were talking about more this election?
Diversity matters. I wish our respected residents throughout HRM were talking more about diversity in the council. I wish we were talking more about representation of minority issues in the city council, not in the sense of visible minority only but more about voices we don’t hear often. For instance, how can we make sure that our respected seniors’ or differently-abled peoples’ voices are regularly heard in the decision-making processes? There should be established avenues through which we can reach out to everyone in the HRM on a regular basis. I am very excited that our residents are responding very positively on these fronts.
What’s the last thing you Googled?
Review of the book Mayors Gone Bad. The book gives you an account of how to not do things at the city halls. Just so you know anti-corruption and public sector conflict of interest issues are the focus areas of my PhD thesis.
What’s the most accurate criticism someone’s made about you?
As my wife always says, give a little more time to your family!
What was the first concert you ever went to?
Miles in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1992.
What was the last movie you didn’t finish?
Finish them all!
What pisses you off?
When people do not treat others well.
What’s changed the most in your district since 2012?
Lots of development with consequent effects on traffic.
What’s a specific moment in politics or your professional life that you really regret?
In politics, I regret that I didn’t run in the elections earlier. In professional life, I regret that I couldn’t design and teach a course on anti-corruption yet.
What’s the last thing that made you really laugh?
When my twin six-year-old boys go mischievous trying to convince me to buy more toys for them!
What’s your go-to meal when cooking?
Salmon-salad-rice or chicken biriyani.
What worries you the most about the Halifax Regional Municipality and the issues it's facing?
HRM is doing its fair share but it needs a shake-up as well. It can be more innovative with entrepreneurial spirit. To become a smart city delivering smart services, it needs to do more. I would like to see more of multilevel governance in HRM. Planning-wise, it needs to look beyond its four-year election cycle. Winning elections is important, but winning the hearts of the residents are more important. Working hard to protect the public interest is even more important. It needs to involve residents in different stages of policy making.
How would you describe your opponents in this race?
Undermining opponents is not a trait of my personality. I thank Mr. Curran for throwing his hat in the ring, running in the elections and becoming part of the democratic process of our wonderful country. I acknowledge the long-term services of Mr. Walker and thank him for his contribution to our community.
What’s something you don’t know, but want to learn?
I have always wanted to learn many more languages.
What do you promise NOT to do if elected?
I promise not to ignore residents in any way. I’ll always be visible in the community and irrespective of the nature of residents’ challenges, I’ll work hard to resolve those issues.