Six questions with Skyler McArthur-O’Blenes, mayoral candidate

Skyler McArthur-O’Blenes, mayoral candidate in the 2022 City of Kingston municipal election. Submitted photo.

Editorial note:

Across the province, Ontarians are getting ready to cast their ballots in every city, town, and county as the 2022 Municipal Election is fast approaching. With election day on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022, Kingstonist has reached out to all candidates within the City of Kingston to create profiles allowing voters to find a brief overview of each candidate in one place. As response comes in, more and more candidate profiles will be added here, which you can access through our Municipal Election 2022 section (with the tab on the homepage), or through our ‘Candidate overview landing page.’

With 45 candidates in total for Kingston City Council alone – and with only one district acclaimed (Countryside District will once again be represented by Gary Oosterhof) and six districts without an incumbent – our goal is to provide as much information as possible leading up to the elections. Thus, we will endeavour to collect response from as many Kingston candidates as possible, with the hope of providing similar coverage for Loyalist Township, Frontenac County, and the Town of Greater Napanee moving forward. All relevant links will be available under the Municipal Election 2022 tab.

For more general information on election process in Kingston, including details on electing Board of Education Trustees, ensuring you are registered to vote, etc., visit the City of Kingston Municipal Elections webpage.

Candidate profiles are being published on our website in no particular order.

Skyler McArthur-O’Blenes is ready to bring his fresh perspective to the table in the mayoral race. A lifelong Kingston resident, he has been “relatively uninvolved in Kingston municipal politics directly,” but was one of the winners of the 2018 Kingston Mayor’s Innovation Challenge.

“I believe that my being relatively uninvolved with current and past politics of Kingston allows me to better understand the perspective of the ‘average’ Kingstonian, who also is not currently very involved,” he expressed.

McArthur-O’Blenes works as a program analyst in the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services in the Business Intelligence Unit. “Our region of focus is Northern Ontario. I work with various stakeholders to discover and present solutions to complex problems using business insights, data analytics, and process improvement techniques. The end goal is to boost the outcomes for communities and people we serve by creating process efficiencies and improving our service delivery capabilities.”

In his spare time, he likes to spend time with friends and family, and play sports through local recreational leagues. “These build leadership, collaborative skills, and are generally very fun!”

When asked for a “fun fact” McArthur-O/Blenes shared, “My claim to fame is that I’m one of the only people from my childhood friend group who have actually remained in Kingston. Many others left Kingston for work, love, or just a change of scenery. I’m a certified ‘Townie.'”

How would you describe your personal political ideology and/or affiliation?

My personal political affiliation does not directly sit with any specific party. I believe a municipal leader should stay away from divisive party-style politics and work towards creating integrated and inclusive solutions for all residents of their city. A municipal leader works to serve all of their constituents, not to bolster their own political agenda.

What made you want to run in this municipal election?

Municipal leadership was always something that I was interested in pursuing. As this specific election grew closer, I spoke with friends, family, and other Kingstonians. People had no problem listing the issues the city was facing, but nobody seemed to care at all about the election. This bothered me because I know that to make change, people have to get involved to make their voices heard.

I decided to challenge the prevailing belief that a mayor has to be a certain age or type of person. I seriously assessed my own abilities and current situation, coming to the conclusion that I could do the job, and do it well. I decided to ‘walk the talk’ to show that, if you have passion, the willingness to learn, and some foundational skills, anyone can make an impact.

What are the three most common issues voters are bringing up to you as you campaign?

  1. Housing affordability and availability in Kingston.
  2. General worries about the future of the city.
  3. Healthcare issues (primary health care provider shortage, paramedic shortage).

What three issues are most pressing/important to address locally, in your opinion?

  1. Making government problem-solving better and increasing community engagement in local affairs. Since this first element directly impacts all other issues that the city faces, with better problem-solving and engagement, we can better solve all other problems that the city faces.
  2. Housing affordability and availability in Kingston.
  3. Healthcare issues.

What is the most pressing issue that will require the intervention of other levels of government, and how do you plan to guide them towards addressing it?

Housing availability and affordability problems are not unique to Kingston, and we cannot work to solve this issue in isolation. As a leader in Kingston, I would advocate to upper levels of government, and also work to establish a coalition/workgroup of municipal leaders of other cities in Ontario (maybe Canada) to share ideas and strengthen our bargaining power to higher levels of government.

What do you feel sets you apart from other candidates?

I bring a fresh perspective, and, being an outsider to local politics, my interests are rooted in the issues of today and the future. I bring a more ground-level knowledge, and the perspective of a new generation, one that is keen on change.

I am young, and am acutely aware of the issues that people of my generation will have to face now and in the future, such as being priced out of the housing market, climate change, instability in tax revenue funded social services programs, etc.

I had to fight to stay in Kingston after graduation while wanting to work the job that I do, this is a situation many people face.

To learn more about Skyler McArthur-O’Blenes, mayoral candidate in the City of Kingston 2022 municipal election, visit his website and Facebook and Instagram pages. Contact him by phone at 613-893-4771 and over email at [email protected].

With files from Cris Vilela.

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