Brenda Cox-Graham, Candidate for Ward 12 in Hamilton Municipal Election 2010

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Candidate Details (top)

NameCox-Graham, Brenda
ElectionHamilton Municipal Election 2010
AreaWard 12
Email bcox-graham@cogeco.ca
Website http://www.cox-graham.ca/
BioWhat relevant work experience does Brenda have?

I am a much experienced negotiator in many areas, and elected by my peers in education to lead them through difficult multi-million dollar contracts to avoid strikes with O.S.S.T.F., E.T.F.O., and C.U.P.E. both from a management perspective as well as a union perspective. This I did in both Wentworth and Peel counties with professional employee group memberships of over five thousand.

I served three, two year terms on the former Wentworth County Board of Education between 1977 and 1982 as the Trustee from Glanbrook. I worked on the Finance Committee, the Collective Bargaining Committee and the Education Committee eventually chairing the Collective Bargaining Committee.This elected position is extremely similar in stucture and functioning as City Council. It involves a knowledge of Provincial legislation, Municipal Legislation, big budget planning, system wide concepts and creative problem solving.

What level of formal education does Brenda hold?

I have a four year honours degree in political science from McMaster University and a Law degree from Osgoode Hall at York University where I concentrated in employment law , labour law, administrative law, municipal law and human rights. I also studied mediation and fact finding with the former Education Relations Commission. I have two professional designations, one as a teacher and one as a lawyer. (retired and thus I have the time to represent Ancaster). I am currently a member in good standing of the Retired Teachers of Ontario and the Law Society of Upper Canada. I also have training and experience in the field of mediation and fact finding with the former Education and Training Commission.

Does Brenda have experience in dealing with large budgets and decision making?

My experience in Collective Bargaining involves knowing when to strike a deal with others after much study of budgetary restrictions and very large and complicated corporate budgets. These skills will no doubt be useful to the Council when striking deals with outside agencies and businesses.

Does Brenda have a track record of involvement in the community?

Except for a five year period in Toronto for study, I have lived in and around the city of Hamilton all of my life. I have spent many years in community involvement with women's groups, making presentations re employment law, labour law, education issues, such as learning disabilities and French Immersion programs as well as trips for young people to Opera Hamilton presentations. I was also a member of Zonta !!, a women's charitable fundraising organization. In addition, I was a founding member of the Glanbrook Women's Recreational Figureskating club and an involved parent and frequent volunteer with minor hockey and baseball over the years.

Is Brenda a system style thinker as well as a team player?

While chairing the collective bargaining committee for the school board I introduced new and innovative methods to the process in the interests of healing frayed relationships and restoring healthy bargaining levels between the Board and its employee groups. I was elected by my peers in Peel to lead a 5000 member Teacher's Federation Local as a vice-president. Later I was elected by the full executive to be the chief negotiator. These are highly political positions requiring team and leadership skills. As chief negotiator on my last set of labour contracts I used a different and very difficult set of skills involving consensus among a group of very diverse team members bringing about a multimillion dollar agreement with only one vote that was taken and that was at the very end to signal full agreement.

While studying in Toronto, I was instrumental in a successful system wide challenge to the category system of OHIP workers that resulted in a million dollar win for hundreds of women who were wrongly categorized and caused the re-negotiation of the entire Ontario Public Service categorization system. My system-wide thinking skills would definitely be an asset to Council.

Is Brenda familiar with the realities and challenges of community building and long range planning.

While I was a School Board member in Hamilton I was party to much long range planning both for the Board's goals and for the individual goals and expectations of top management employees. I also assisted in developing structural systems to introduce a high degree of equitable hiring practices to meet better employment standards consistent with employment equity goals.

Does Brenda have solid communication skills both individually and when dealing publicly?

As well as good personal communication skills demonstrated by my assistance to many parents and students over the years, I have made presentations before committees of Members of Federal Parliament and committees of the Provincial Parliament on behalf of such groups as Women and the Law and Non-Smokers Rights Association. I have been an accomplished public speaker since I was approximately 11 years old when my teachers encouraged me to enter public speaking contests for children.As a labour negotiator, it is essential to be an effective public speaker, both in committee work and at large organizational meetings and to the public at large.

Does Brenda offer a clear perspective on issues?

I believe my background brings new skills to bear on many issues in Hamilton. The recent difficulties re the new stadium might have benefitted from my experience at the negotiation table. I have worked on the land use committee for the town of Binbrook in the past, and I believe that very clear planning goals are needed in Ancaster and in particular at the airport lands. Citizen input must be sought at all levels of the process. No conflicts of interest must be present. Lobbyists must be identified by a registration system. Jobs in our city must be a priority through co-operation with business interests to help them get established and to flourish here. Identification of, and attention to, priorities is essential. The downtown core must be maintained and improved. This is in the best interests of all Hamiltonians! Rapid transit is a must and traffic patterns, especially in the West end must be improved before complete gridlock sets in without losing the "village" nature of Ancaster. Seniors and the disabled must have ready access to transportation and all other services and businesses. The downtown core must continue to be user friendly. Attention to tax issues is a must in a still recovering economy. Social welfare rolls need to be reduced by increased job opportunities with living wages attached to them.

Social goals require more than just a business perspective. They are complex goals requiring much planning and philosophy. Business underlies all of this. Our business community is the engine that fuels the life of the city. The council of the city must support them strongly in order to function as a city. Our philosophy must include working together as a team with each other not competitively. The council needs to learn the skills of co-operative working and communicating to improve its efficiency and its effectiveness.

Does Brenda have personal credibility and demonstrated leadership skills?

I believe that the numerous elections in my life demonstrates both of these issues. I am recommended as a leader to the citizens of Hamilton by a number of people who have either worked with me for a long time or know of my character and commitment to public service.

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Responses to Questions (top)

QuestionBrief ResponseFull Response
Council is poised to vote on the Airport Employment Growth District, a 3,000 acre plan to expand the urban boundary around Hamilton International Airport for employment lands. Do you support this plan? Why or why not? No The city should overturn that awful decision to spend all that money on the airport lands and become active in developing land already serviced in Hamilton to help businesses get established here.
Is Hamilton doing enough to support and encourage new investment in our older neighbourhoods? If not, what should the City be doing? No Hamilton is definitely not doing enough to revitalize city spaces. They should be cleaned up and made "shovel ready", as the builders say, to encourage new business to utilize these lands. Various forms of financial incentives could be offered. Some of it should be utilized for low income housing units. Small but good quality and carefully monitored. Small businesses should be encouraged especially with small start-up loans and help with understanding the risks and how to avoid them.
For your campaign, will you be accepting donations from corporations or unions? If so, why? If not, why not? No No I will not be accepting money from corporations or unions. I believe in the golden rule...she who has the gold, rules. Thus it is important to use money from sources that carry no obligations!
The City of Hamilton has committed to doubling transit ridership by 2020. Do you support this goal? If so, how would you realize it? Yes Yes I support this goal. We want fewer cars on our roads and cleaner air. Make it widespread as possible, especially to the suburbs and cheap as dirt so that cars become the most undesirable option. Failing that, link it to the suburbs with park and rides. Make it a desirable option with lots of room, frequent trips during rush hours and protection for women, the disabled and the elderly and accessible to all.
Hamilton's Cycling Master Plan has Council approval. However, the implementation timeline is very long and ward councillors can block individual bike lane projects. Do you support accelerating the completion of a continuous bicycle network and other initiatives like a bike sharing program and better access up and down the Escarpment? Why or why not? No This is a very difficult plan to implement all across the city. I would support a phase in, as drivers are simply not cautious enough re bicycle travel at this time. I prefer the longer timeline to give people a chance to adjust to it all. Perhaps we can implement it in small areas of the city at a time eventually stretching it to include a wider area. Safety should be the main concern. Cycling is a great way to encourage better health and cleaner air in the city.
Do you support Hamilton's LRT proposal? If so, what will you do to ensure Hamilton's success in building LRT? If not, why do you oppose it? Yes Yes I support it. Our current council just committed 350 to 400 million to airport land development. I wonder where we will get the money.
Should we spend the Future Fund to build a Pan Am / Ticat stadium on the CP Rail Yard lands? Why or why not? No Spending the money from the Future Fund seems inconsistent with the funds stated purpose although that is clearly arguable. I am reluctant to spend such money unless it can be demonstrated that it will provide many jobs and financial benefits to the city as a whole. This is a more desirable goal than a place of sports fun for a few.
Do you believe that poverty is the most critical issue facing Hamilton today? If so, please outline your solutions. If not, please explain your reasons. Yes Immediate attention to poverty issues is required. Short term answers first...food banks and short term safe housing. Then bring together Hamilton's groups with interests in this issue and pool our ideas on longer term needs and approaches to solving problems together.
Some cities have committed recently to publishing their public data in an open format that citizens can directly access. Should Hamilton pledge to become an "open source city"? Why or why not? Yes I can see no reason why not to have open sources of already public data if that means merely making it available to the public over the internet.
Will your term change people's first impression of Hamilton, and make that first impression more attractive to visitors, students, commuters and newcomers? If so, how? Yes If we improve transit and make it attractive to people by making it widespread, accessible, and very cheap, it will impress visitors and make people want to stay. Continue to develop parks around the Bay.
Many observers argue that Council meetings could be more respectful and professional. Do you agree? If so, what will you do to change this? Yes There are many corporate business programs from which to choose that teach groups of disparate people how to work together in a positive way. Many corporations and work groups use them to teach the skills necessary to work towards common goals using systems such as those used by School Boards to help teachers form skills to work towards the good of their students as a group of very diverse adults. They learn better communication skills, form social bonds with each other and help each other, all towards the goals of the organization. Of course these skills are learned better by some than others, but all learn to credit each other for their efforts. They need to form common goals and help each other to reach them rather than compete for them. Egos need to be dropped at the door. This takes training but it can be done. An occasional retreat from the council room would be needed. The cost is low and the results are usually high for all participants and the organization benefits.