Skyler McArthur-O’Blenes wants to represent Kingstonians with a ‘fresh’ perspective

Recent Queen’s grad running for mayor

Image supplied by: Supplied by Skylar McArthur-O’Blenes
McArthur-O’Blenes wants to mend the bond between Queen’s and Kingston.

A few years ago, Skyler McArthur-O’Blenes, ArtSci ’20, was a government minister at Queen’s Model Parliament. Now he’s running to be the Mayor of Kingston in 2022.

In an interview with The Journal, McArthur-O’Blenes described his platform as modern, with a focus on listening and community engagement. He’s lived in Kingston all his life and wants to improve the relationship between Queen’s and the Kingston community.

McArthur-O’Blenes is currently a business intelligence program analyst for the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS). He graduated from Queen’s with a Bachelor of Applied Economics and a Certificate in Business in 2020.

“I’m in a unique position being a fairly recent Queen’s grad [and] a lifelong Kingstonian. I can see sort of both sides of the coin, quite intimately,” he said.

He believes his work for the government, combined with his educational background and experience in model Parliament, gives him insight into government operations.

“I’m new to politics in Kingston, so I bring a more representative perspective—not one that’s been steeped in the way that things have been done. I think that there is a really big appetite for change.”

McArthur-O’Blenes and a friend won the 2018 Mayor’s Innovation Challenge, which asked participants to find a solution to decreased community engagement. His solution involved engaging Kingston locals and Queen’s—something he’s passionate about.

McArthur-O’Blenes said he decided to run for mayor after learning many people don’t feel heard.

“I have seen growing apathy amongst a lot of voters here, where they feel like their vote doesn’t really matter if their voice doesn’t really matter,” he said. “I wanted to take a listening first approach […] there is a way their voice can matter more.”

His goals include addressing the decreased affordability of living, the “looming” recession, and increasing interest rates. He’s also interested in seeing how he can implement modern reforms to improve productivity.

“The role of a mayor is to be two things: improving the lives of the people who call your jurisdiction home, and then increasing community engagement [in] municipal affairs,” he said.

He added it’s important to him to listen to the “average” citizens of Kingston, not just those who are most engaged in community affairs or most likely to speak up.

McArthur-O’Blenes believes there are hard workers in the current government doing good things to address challenges such as community engagement, affordability, and homelessness, but he’s “a bit upset” it’s “taken this long” to make changes.

“I think that anyone with a business or economics background could easily see the writing’s been on the wall for quite a long time—I think [the current government] is a bit too reactive.”

McArthur-O’Blenes said that he’s not looking to “reinvent the wheel,” but he’d like to take a more proactive approach by finding innovative ways to engage the community using existing resources that could be better promoted.

He also hopes to work with other municipal governments to establish a community of shared advocacy and bring issues to the provincial or federal government. He said municipalities have the most direct impact on community-facing issues.

As for the City’s relationship with Queen’s, McArthur-O’Blenes believes issues stem from a lack of understanding on both sides. He said the City needs to focus on retaining the wealth of talent post-secondary institutions bring and recognize what students add to Kingston’s economy.

In his experience, the students that cause the most issues for the City are those who aren’t engaged in the community, those who see it as a temporary home away from their parents.

“It’s so much more enriching in your experience at Queen’s if you can lay down some community roots, whether that’s through volunteering, working somewhere locally, or attending local events,” he said.

Canadian students who live in Kingston can vote in the upcoming election uponproviding proof of residence in the City.

“It’s important that Queen’s students see themselves as Kingstonian,” McArthur-O’Blenes said. “You’re here more than you’re at home. What happens in Kingston directly impacts Queen’s students, and a lot of them don’t realize it.”

The Kingston municipal election is happening on Oct. 24. More information can be found here.


city council, Election 2022, Kingston, Mayor profile

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