By Kevin Werner, News staff
If Stoney Creek resident Cam Galindo is elected Ward 9 councillor in this fall’s municipal election, he may have to work around his current school schedule and four other jobs.
The 19-year-old McMaster University student has registered to run in the fall municipal election. If he wins, he’ll become the youngest Hamilton councillor since a 24-year-old Bob Morrow won a by-election in 1980. Ward 5 councillor Chad Collins was also 24 when he won a 1995 by-election.
“This is my way to give back to the community,” said the Bishop Ryan graduate. “I really want to make a change. There is only so much you can do at the ground level. I have dedicated my life to public service.”
Originally born in Columbia, his family arrived in Canada in 2001 as refugees when he was six after a short stay in Connecticut. His father was a taxi driver who angered one of the drug cartels after he reported his vehicle had been carjacked. A gunshot through the family’s house window prompted them to flee their native country.
While attending high school Galindo managed to juggle school work with volunteer activities and his other odd jobs.
For three years he has been a greeter in the urgent care and dialysis unit for St. Joseph Healthcare; he volunteers with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Hamilton-Burlington; he’s a member of the city’s youth committee; he works at Starlight Drive-In; and he’s an occasional driver for CHCH television.
Galindo, who is studying political science and economics at McMaster University, wasn’t planning on running for what is turning out to be a competitive Ward 9 race. But once veteran politician Brad Clark decided he was contesting the mayor’s chair and leaving the ward an open seat, Galindo said why not give it a try.
“We need the voice of youth around the table,” he said. “People say we are too young, and too inexperienced. But I want to redefine the stigma that only older people should run (for public office). “I have fresh ideas, a fresh perspective.”
Galindo says he hasn’t been “satisfied” with what Clark, a former provincial cabinet minister, has been doing during his two terms on council. He says politicians should talk to people and learn what they want their representative to do, something he is committed to doing.
“I want to listen to residents rather than having a secretary take their calls,” he said. “I want to be there for them.”
He says Stoney Creek needs a lot of road improvements, such as along Rymal and Pritchard roads and King Street (which is slated to be improved in 2015).
Within downtown Stoney Creek, especially along Lake Avenue, residents have had to constantly bail out their flooded homes and roads after severe thunderstorms, he said. The area also needs a better transportation system, since the entire community is expanding.
Galindo supports “100 per cent” Hamilton’s planned light-rail transit project, which could cost taxpayers over $800 million. But he doesn’t believe taxes should be increased, and says he wouldn’t have supported this year’s 1.5 per cent average tax hike.