It’s hard to give opinions on other ward races. I have several friends on campaigns who are either running or helping run them and you end up picking sides, even between people you respect so I tend to stay out of them. I have a passionate connection with Ward 2 since 2006 when I found myself working in a homeless shelter in the ward and that has stayed with me as I have moved on.
I had known of Pat Lorje going back to her time on council in the 1980s and later as a NDP MLA when she was elected in 1993. I wasn’t a fan because as long time readers of this blog know, I am amongst the last two remaining defenders of the Grant Devine administration (okay, I may be the last remaining one) and I was occasionally (and unsuccessfully) campaigning for her opponent. Later I unengaged from politics and Lorje became a cabinet minister (those aren’t really connected).
When I found myself working at a shelter in Ward 2 and working with poverty and homelessness issues, Coun. Lorje and Randy Pshebylo made some statements questioning the concentration of services in Riversdale. I emailed Lorje and asked to meet with our management team and we had an excellent exchange of ideas between her, Pshebylo and other managers. While Lorje and I disagreed on the issue, her viewpoint was well thought out and backed up with some pretty interesting academic policy discussions about concentrations of service (in Ottawa and Cinncinnati) and what it does to neighbourhood. It set a pattern even when I see Lorje (and Pshebylo) today. We may not always agree but we are always looking for ideas to solve and improve poverty and homeless issues.
The first time that I worked closely with Coun. Lorje was on the opening and rezoning of Mumford House. It was another service in Pleasant Hill but Lorje saw the big picture on the project and knew that we needed a shelter for women and children in Saskatoon. She was an effective advocate for the community but also with us and served as an effective “power broker” between us as a service provider and the community association. It was a project that would have been delayed without community support and her support was crucial in getting it open in a timely matter. It’s always hard to think what it would have been like without Lorje’s support but I have seen home based child care rezoning efforts have more difficult time than what we had.
As an outsider, I enjoyed watching the politics of the wind turbine and the new development in Montgomery. Lorje has been a passionate defender of Montgomery and while I didn’t agree with her stance (especially on the wind turbine), she did an excellent job of representing their interests both publicly and to me privately. She has also been an advocate for things in Council that she feels are right for citizens across the city, especially for those that are marginalized.
Finally as someone that loves the culture of Riversdale, I love the changes that have happened with the revitalization of the neighbourhood as a result of the efforts of the Riversdale BID, entrepreneurs, and the City of Saskatoon’s investment; investment that Lorje champions for at every opportunity.
Ward 2 can’t be an easy ward to represent with perhaps the largest income gap between neighbourhoods in Saskatoon but Lorje has done a good job over the last six years. While I can’t speak for the ward, I can speak for the work that Lorje has done and I think she has done an excellent job for both Ward 2 and for all of Saskatoon. I can’t take a lawn sign but I’ll make my thoughts known here. Pat Lorje should be re-elected on October 24th.