Two students vie for Sydenham seat

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Third student running in King’s Town

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, top, and Alex Huntley are running against each other for city council in Sydenham Ward.
Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, top, and Alex Huntley are running against each other for city council in Sydenham Ward.
Photo: 
Alex Huntley
Alex Huntley
Photo: 

Today is the last day candidates can file their nomination papers for the Nov. 13 municipal election, and there are already three students in the race.

Despite running on similar platforms, Nathaniel Erksine-Smith, ArtSci ’07, and Alex Huntley, ArtSci ’08, have registered to run in the same riding: Sydenham Ward, the area encompassing most of the Ghetto.

Joining Erksine-Smith and Huntley in the Sydenham race are incumbent Floyd Patterson and resident Bill Glover. Erksine-Smith, ArtSci ’07, registered to run on July 21. He said the help he received from the community while starting up a gourmet grilled Panini business influenced his decision to run for city council.

“I got involved, and took more interest in the city,” Erksine-Smith said. “I’m finishing my degree this fall, and thought, ‘Why not jump into politics?’”

Erskine-Smith said his plans to run as a student were negatively affected when fellow student Alex Huntley, ArtSci ’08, registered to run on September 1, creating competition for student votes.

“It’s great that another student is running if we can get more students to take interest in the city,” Erskine-Smith said. “But I worry about vote splitting.” Erskine-Smith said he’s worried that, with two students running and splitting the student vote between them, a non-student will win the election.

“There’s no animosity between us,” Erskine-Smith said. “We agree on everything. So why run against each other? It’s very frustrating.”

Huntley said he doesn’t think their competition as students should be an issue of contention.

“I think it’s a very poor argument to say, ‘I was here first,’ because I’ve been planning this since January,” he said. “Once again, it comes down to the label. Because I’m a student, [Erksine-Smith assumes] we have the same opinion. I don’t think that’s right.” Huntley explained that he decided to wait until September to register because he wanted to see who else was running.

“We hit the ground running,” he said.

Huntley said he doesn’t agree with his opponent’s view and said that labeling a candidate by their occupation is counter-productive.

“There’s an assumption that I’m running as a student,” Huntley said. “The whole point is that yes, I’m a student, but that’s just my occupation. I’m proud of it, but I think there are more community members than just students.

“Simply running on, ‘I’m a student--vote for me,’ won’t convince anyone. It’s about the ideas.”

The student candidates have similar ideas for the city of Kingston. Both are running on platforms that relate to student life, such as the state of the Ghetto and town-gown relations.

“Students think they’re only students,” Erksine-Smith said. “They must recognize that within the Sydenham Ward they are the majority. They must get involved.”

Huntley said one focus of his campaign is improving living conditions within the student Ghetto.

“Cleaning up the student Ghetto is probably one of [my] biggest issues,” he said, adding that he’s also interested in curbing the waste in Kingston by implementing a Green Bin policy that would control organic household waste by facilitating compost for regular pick up. It’s already in place in Toronto, the Niagara region and some GTA regions.

Both candidates said they’re interested in improving student relations with the city, specifically in regards to Homecoming.

“The focus [of this year’s Homecoming] was perfect: making it safer,” Erksine-Smith said.

Erskine-Smith was one of the Aberdeen Street volunteers, and said this experience was a rewarding one.

Meanwhile, Erksine-Smith’s housemate Andrew Goodridge is running as a candidate in the King’s Town Riding against Mark Potter, Sean Molloy and Rob Hutchison.

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