OPINION: I will do the right thing, based on what I have heard residents ask me to do

BY JIM CESSFORD

Mayoral candidate for ‘Independents Working For You’ team and former Delta Police Chief

 

 “Suno sub di, uhi karo jo sahi hai”

(Punjabi phrase: Listen to everyone, but do what you consider to be right.)

 

WHEN I sat down to write this piece, I thought about some of the Punjabi phrases I have heard over the years and this is one that stuck with me.  As a Police Chief, as a patrol cop, a coach, father, now grandfather, and husband, I have always listened to others very carefully, before making up my mind as to the correct course of action.  When I decided to run for Mayor of Delta, it was the first thing I did: listen to residents.  I worked very hard for the first three months after announcing I was running at engaging with our community and asking what they felt were the important issues facing them in Delta, what they wanted and hoped for.

I hope in October to be elected as Delta’s Mayor and have the opportunity to do the right thing, based on what I have heard residents ask me to do.

When I first came to Delta in 1995 as Police Chief I realized very quickly that we did not have the staff and officers we needed to protect and serve the Punjabi community, which was growing daily.  Translations and communicating were the first tasks I tackled and I pushed our hiring policies to seek out a balanced patrol that reflected the community we policed.  One of the issues I hope to address as Mayor of Delta is the diversity of language skills and cultural understanding that City hall can offer our community.

As any policeman will tell you, the most heartbreaking of all our calls are those that impact the home: domestic violence is an issue that I have fought hard to combat, not only through policing but through education and communication.  I have worked with Dr Balbir Gurm (Kwantlen Polytechnic University) and nursing students to create toolkits for Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships (“NEVR”).  I have appeared on Red FM with Mr. Harjinder Thind and thoroughly enjoy our discussions: in the past we’ve talked about public safety and Indo-Canadian relationships.

One of my greatest joys in life has been to coach and mentor our young adults and youth.  I have coached hockey and baseball to many young Delta South Asians, and am proud to see many of them progressing to careers in the First Responder community that keeps us safe.  The Rotary Clubs of Delta and the Youth Leadership awards are a key part of what I see as a way of improving the lives and celebrating the achievements of our youth. It was fantastic this year to see so many South Asian youngsters receiving awards and many wearing traditional dress.

I recently attended a traditional Sikh wedding that was officiated by an old friend and colleague of mine whom I respect a great deal, Baltej Dhillon.  I have known Baltej for many years and worked with him. His courage and advocacy for the Sikh community across Canada, his bravery in the face of adversity is a true inspiration to me.  It was a wonderful experience to attend this wedding with all its stunning beauty and colour.  I feel truly blessed to live in Delta and surrounded with such richness and cultural depth. My children grew up here and have gone on to be successful adults who think of Delta as the best place to be and I agree.

If successful in October these are the things that I have heard from the South East Asian community in Delta that I commit to addressing:

  • I will increase the accessibility and work on ensuring that all of our City’s diverse cultural and language needs are catered for, that we have an inclusive and open environment across Delta.
  • Access to services will be enhanced for those who feel marginalized and we will work towards creating a balanced hiring policy that acknowledges the importance of having the language skills and cultural empathy for the community we serve.
  • Youth and Senior programs and facilities will be inclusive and open, accessible and culturally appropriate for the communities we serve.
  • Public safety is a priority of mine, and we will support our First Responders who keep our community safe. I will work with all public safety stakeholders to ensure our community is protected and safe.
  • We will work closely with the School Board to support their efforts to ensure all our children and youth are given every possible opportunity to succeed.
  • We will develop a vision and strategic plan with authentic community engagement to address the Housing issues, and create a Housing Choices Road Map that will allow families to stay together.
  • We will invest strategically, and with an overarching vision for our community, in our infrastructure.
  • We will support small business owners and operators.

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