Newmarket-Aurora Green Party candidate Carolina Rodriguez said she no longer wanted to wait for others to bring the change she wanted.
The 22-year-old University of Guelph student said climate change, mental health and housing affordability are important issues for her. She said she felt the Green Party platform addresses those key issues well.
“The market with housing, it’s been really devastating for people like myself, young people,” she said. “I don’t see things continuing to change with the way things have been and the leadership we’ve had. So why not task myself with that, and task myself with representing others in my community to see changes?”
The Green Party named Rodriguez as its local candidate this week, joining the field of Denis Heng of the NDP, Dawn Gallagher Murphy of the Conservatives and Dr. Sylvain Roy of the Liberals.
Rodriguez said she immigrated from Mexico at a young age but grew up in Newmarket, where her family still resides. She just finished her third year studying environmental governance and political science, with graduation due next year.
She said much of her political activism has been in Guelph, but she has been part of the Newmarket community, taking part in local sports.
“Newmarket is a very privileged and a beautiful city,” she said. “Always very grateful that my parents chose to live here.”
Rodriguez said she had originally planned to volunteer for the Green Party in the election. But she said the party approached her to run given her energy and activism.
Although she is relatively young compared to the other candidates in the field, she said younger people are often missed out on representation, and some advantages come from their perspective. She said it makes her more adaptable and able to learn from others.
“I’m not here to turn the world and change it all upside down, I’m here to represent everyone. I’m also more accepting of change and solutions within change,” she said. “I don’t see myself as someone who is unqualified to do this. I think the experience I have had have been of quality, perhaps not quantity.”
The Green Party has finished fourth in the riding the past three provincial elections. Rodriguez acknowledged the standing but said she hopes to build up the party locally and make voters more aware of it. She said voters opting for their conscience instead of strategic voting is key.
“I’m going to be working to increase the Green presence in Newmarket,” she said. “Start a foundation for future elections … My campaign will just be outreach, get it out there, get people to know about the Green Party.
“A lot of people just assume, ‘Oh, they just want trees everywhere,’” she added about the perception of the party. “It’s a little bit more than that.”
Still, Rodriguez said there is more awareness about the significant issues of climate change and environmental justice. She said she hopes to channel that.
“The future is green, so why not build our community for that?”