Shawn Lewis, 46, is the incoming city councillor for ward 2. Lewis will be replacing Councillor Bill Armstrong who has represented the ward for 24 years.
Lewis is proud to be the first openly-gay man on city council, but hopes to be more than the flag bearer.
“What I hope it does is send a message to other members of the LGBTQ+ community of whatever age, but particularly to younger LGBTQ+ members in the community, that if [they] want to do this, [they] can. There’s a spot for them. I hope I’ve shown them that and that I can set a positive example for them,” he said.
In conversation with the councillor-elect:
If you could solve any issue in the city, what would take priority and why?
Well, with the weather outside today, the easy answer would be better snow plowing. But, if I had a magic wand and could only fix one problem, it would be our housing and homelessness problem.
The lack of quality of affordable housing and the number of people who are homeless or in precarious housing in the city is a huge issue for us. It’s a huge negative drain on the economy and it has a huge negative impact on people’s personal lives
As proved by the 2018 Annual Community Survey, the biggest issue for Londoners is Transit. What is your proposal for better transit?
I don’t support the current BRT plan. One of its big flaws is that it does not service our neighbourhood community very well, if at all. In order to have better transit we have to look at the entire neighbourhood route system. We have to look at ways to keep busses on time…and we have to look at how late these busses are running.
What is an issue that is close to your heart?
A lot of it is really the neighbourhood things.
Our neighbourhood issues were being ignored…It’s the ‘fix the potholes on our roads’, the ‘we need a stop sign at this corner’, or ‘we need speed bump in front of our school here.’ It’s those little issues that really impact people’s everyday lives. Those are the kind of things I really want to focus on.
Are there any changes you would like to see in the way city council operates?
Well, in my ward, it’s communication. I heard that from the constituents yesterday. I sent out my end-of-the-month newsletter and I had great feedback for doing it…That’s been done before, just not in my ward, but I don’t think there’s anything groundbreaking. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. I think there’s great practices councillors have been using. My strength is going to be being that neighbourhood community councillor.
What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
I am a huge sci-fi and comic book geek! It’s been a huge part of my life. I have been collecting comics since I was five years old and I even have a comic book room in my house that has all of my collections. On Wednesday afternoons, after council meetings, folks might bump into me at Heroes Cards and Comics…[Comic books] have really shaped me…There’s life lessons to be learned from The Adventures of Luke Skywalker or from Clark Kent and I hope I bring a little piece of them with me to council too.