Amanda Stratton is the founder of Hacker Studios, a start up incubator in downtown London, a single mom and a chair on London’s transportation advisory committee. She is also an NDP candidate hoping to fill in Deb Matthews shoes after the 2018 election.
Stratton moved to London 5 years ago and began her political career by investing her time in one of London’s hot button topics, transit. “They say that everybody has a gateway issue that is what gets them into political involvement and for me it was transit,” says Stratton. When she first moved here she began commuting by public transit and she says she quickly learned that “it was chronically underfunded and that there was a lot of issues with stigma around transit.” She then began to work on talking to city hall on how to make London’s transit a number one issue, marking her first experience in engaging in a political process.
While transportation is a topic of interest for Stratton, she is also interested in issues such as education, mental health in students and poverty. Stratton says “I think we have a systemic problem in Ontario where through various channels, we’ve created a system that punishes people for being poor.”
On the topic of mental health, Stratton hopes, if she were elected to be a provincial representative, that she can work towards a provincial strategy to provide better mental health services to students in colleges and universities. Stratton says that “it is a time where students are particularly vulnerable, a lot of the time students are far from home, so they’re far from whatever support networks they did have” adding that because there isn’t standardized accommodations across the province, it leaves students feeling confused about where they can go to seek help. Stratton feels that although a full mental health diagnosis typically comes later in life, the age you are pursuing your post secondary education is when onset begins.
In a recent campaign kickoff, Stratton educated Londoners on how to become more involved in the political process of nominations and voting. While there, attendees had the chance to voice their concerns to the hopeful candidate. Stratton says that a lot of the concerns revolved around jobs – job creation and job insecurity. Londoners were also concerned that the Forest City doesn’t have a presence at the table when having important conversations and making decisions. Stratton says that she often travels to Ottawa and Washington and when she does she is sure to mention what’s going on in London, bringing home ideas from the conversations she has and tries to implement them here. She hopes that if elected, that concern is one she can fix.
Stratton is competing against ward 13 councillor Tanya Park. She says that Park and her husband were the first to welcome her to London when she moved here 5 years ago. Although Stratton hasn’t worked with Park during her time as councillor, she says she has a lot of respect for her and can see that she cares a lot about the community.
When asked what makes her THE candidate to vote for, Stratton says that it is her career as a businesswoman that sets her a part from current NDP candidates and those sitting in house. She says that through her work she’s “become really passionate about things like removing barriers and sexism in employment but in general helping employers be better employers.” She adds that while that is what makes her different and relatable to her audience in how she approaches topics, she also is guided by principles and priorities that she believes strongly align with NDP values.