(ABOVE: A cake at Dave Lee’s election night party. Photo by Glen Gower.)
I remember the first time I talked to Dave Lee. It was September 12, the morning after he filed his nomination papers and entered the race to become Stittsville’s city councillor. There are three things I remember about that conversation:
- He was surprised at how quickly word got around that he was running. “My phone’s going wild,” he said. “That’s the fastest I’ve ever seen the city work.”
- He was focused on the Orgaworld / green bin topic. He must have talked for a good 10 or 15 minutes about it.
- He wasn’t focused on winning so much as he was focused on getting people engaged and aware about city issues (particularly Orgaworld).
Lee came a long way from that early morning conversation, winning an impressive 39% of the vote on Monday night against two-term, eight-year incumbent Shad Qadri.
He ran a very effective campaign. With the help of some experienced volunteers, he blanketed the ward with his distinctive black and red signs, attracted around 100 people to a meet-and-greet at the Main Street Pub, knocked on doors, debated, fielded phone calls and emails, and interacted with residents on Facebook and Twitter.
He took his original beef with Orgaworld and turned it into a broader complaint about process and financial oversight at City Hall. I didn’t agree with where he stood on many of the issues but at least he gave us the opportunity, as a community, to discuss them.
The feisty public debate at Johnny Leroux Arena struck me as being out-of-character for the normally subdued Village of Stittsville. One veteran politician told me it reminded her of some of the old meetings at Goulbourn Township council, where (in her words), there was a tradition of “loud and action-packed debates”.
We need more of that kind of discussion in Stittsville. This community is growing fast and changing quickly and we need more leaders like Dave Lee to step up and get involved in shaping our future.
You don’t have to run for office to get involved. Read up on the issues, talk about them with your neighbours, volunteer for a community group, come out to public meetings, write an email to your councillor, comment on this blog. Dave woke Stittsville up, now it’s up to us to keep the momentum going.