Jose Pablo Bustamante has a likeability factor that resonates within minutes of speaking to him. He's bright, passionate for the community and the city, highly educated and knows how to campaign. As he is running in my ward, it's a special pleasure to welcome Jose to The Hamiltonian.
1. What is your sense for the constituents in your ward’s, satisfaction with their current councillor? What do you bring to the table that differentiates you as a candidate? What will you do differently?
When I came to Stoney Creek, my first impression was that the current city councillor was doing a good job due to the fact that she served as city councillor for a long period of time. Then some of my neighbours started to point that “she is never around except by election time” and that “someone else should take over”. When I asked them why she won in the previous elections, their response was that in 2006 there were no better candidates. Then I started to think about running for office.
Last year an impressive storm hit Stoney Creek causing a lot of damages. About 150 residents in my ward experienced a basement flood, with thousands of dollars in loses. Our city councillor never showed up, at least in my street, and the neighbour’s dissatisfaction increased.
In the past many other candidates ran against the incumbent without any success. My main differentiator is that I have the education, skills and experience for the job, and I will never lose contact with my community, its people and its challenges.
After the floods, our city councillor backed up the idea of giving compassionate grants to the people suffering from the floods and the installation of backflow valves. However, these actions do not solve the problem. What will happen the next time we experience a storm like the one on July 26, 2009? Where the water that was going to some basements will go? Guess what? To the other basement that didn’t experienced the floods and do not have the backflow valve. These two actions are only transferring the problem to someone else.
What I will do differently? I will impulse the construction of a pump station that will pump the water faster to the lake, creating a relief in the system and instead of transferring the problem, solving the problem.
I will visit my constituents in a regular basis to have a sense of their major problems and challenges.
And, I will invest wisely in infrastructure to avoid events like the basement floods.
2. Striking a balance between optimally representing your constituents, while also supporting initiatives that are for the common good of Hamilton, is a balance you will have to strike. How will you approach striking that balance?
“What is good for you is good for me” this is the golden rule, and I believe that what is good for my ward is good for the city and vice versa. It will be my duty to find this balance by prioritizing initiatives that will create win-win situations for the city and my ward.
3. What has been one of your greatest challenges in life, what did you learn from that and what lessons might you leverage if you were to succeed in your bid to serve?
My greatest challenge in my life is having a child with special needs. I love him, yes, I am his father, but, he is my teacher. He showed me that love comes in different ways and that patience and perseverance are keys to succeed in life. I learned my lesson and I will use these skills at City Council.
4. One of the criticisms often echoed on blogs and other media outlets, is the notion that council is “dysfunctional”. Do you agree with that assessment and what will you do to ensure a contribution to a smoother running council, if elected?
I do agree that the council is dysfunctional, that’s a fact. This fact is sustained by the voting patterns of the council and how many times they achieve consensus.
I believe that negotiation and compromises can only be achieved if there are communication bridges. One of the objectives I want to accomplish at City Council is to build these communication links among all councillors in order to generate better outcomes. This way we can assure that the whole council will function effectively.
5. Politicians necessarily must promote themselves to effectively campaign. Self promotion takes many shapes from an account of accomplishments and offerings, to a full tilt, sometimes over the top, exaggerated self congratulatory posture (which we are already seeing from some). Let’s park that type of rhetoric. Why are you running and why should Hamiltonian’s believe you?
I am running because I want to shape a better Hamilton for all Hamiltonians, including my family. I believe that City Council in this moment lacks of people with the necessary skills to ask the right questions and to make the right decisions, and I want to improve that. I do have a Master in Business Administration which will help at the moment to make decisions, but I work as an electrician in construction. Yes, every morning I wake up early, prepare my tools, buy my coffee and start my trade. I live in my own flesh what the common worker does and what hard work means. Without rhetoric, just facts!
Why Hamiltonians should believe in me? Because I only will promise something I can deliver, and I will deliver.
6. The Mayor represents one vote. However, a Mayor is considered the City’s leader. What would you look for in a Mayor and how will you demonstrate appropriate deference to that position?
I believe that the Mayor should be a true leader, guiding the Council with good ideals, principles, values and clear objectives.
Many people have some kind of power due to his position or by their rank. These persons can be appointed or elected. But if the people behind him don’t support him, then he has no power, neither any hierarchy. Ideals, principles and values have hierarchy over ranks or positions. Nonetheless, if a leader, who holds a position or rank, also has good ideals, principles and values and people supporting him, then he is a true leader.
In our case the council has a higher hierarchy than the Mayor, but the Mayor has the rank. The mayor will be a true leader only when he can manage both, using ideals, principles, values and actions and less rhetoric and demagogy.
7. What are your views concerning the need for an Integrity Commissioner?
An Integrity Commissioner in my opinion shouldn’t exist. In a perfect world, with perfect City Councillors, looking after the interests of their constituents there is no need of a sheriff. But we do not live in a perfect world and some Councillors are only interested in their pay checks and how to be re-elected and not in the wellbeing of their communities. In this case, then of course we need the whip.
8. How do you receive and process criticism?
I love criticism and I encourage it. Criticism is the only way a politician can know if he is in the right path and making the right decisions or not. I am humble enough to accept my mistakes in order to correct them. I have no ego and I will accept any suggestion from anyone, even my opponents if I believe that this suggestion will benefit my community and my city.
9. How would you work with fellow councillors to gain support for your perspectives. What would be your guiding principles?
Good negotiation skills are very important for the office of City Councillor. From my negotiation class at the MBA I remember two things: You can negotiate at the open – towards a common goal, or at the close – to maximize your position. Inside the City Council, working for a common goal should be the norm. Indeed, setting our priorities, by understanding the needs of each community in the city and setting a common goal is the way to go. The relationships with my fellow councillors should be relationships full of respect, honesty and hard work.
10. What does leadership mean to you? How would you demonstrate it, if elected?
A true leader leads by example, takes ownership of the problems and is responsible for his actions and for the actions of his organization no matter what. A true leader listens and connects, delegate tasks and communicate in a clear and simple manner. If I am elected I want to be a true leader for my community, and stand for my constituents and my city at all times. I will raise my voice to create awareness for the problems of my community and present solutions to solve these problems.
A good City Councillor is a key to open solutions, not the door that creates the problem.
11. Would you be open to a “10 Tough questions” style virtual debate, to be held on The Hamiltonian, with your contenders, including the current councillor if he/she runs?
12. What are the top three things a councillor should always do. What are the top three things a councillor should never do?
Put the interests of his community before his/her own
Be proactive and part of the solution and not of the problem
Communicate effectively, by listening actively and speaking clear
Think that he/she can control the public opinion or that being City Councillor is a lifetime job
Be dishonest or avoid your responsibilities
Procrastinate and waist time or other’s people money in non-sense discussions or projects
Thank-you Jose for your contribution to The Hamiltonian and for your interest in Ward 10 and in Hamilton. Learn more about Jose by visiting his website here