Jordan Simmons is the Co-Founder and CEO of Nominee, a community and platform which helps empower those traditionally sidelined by politics to run for office. Jordan has worked on political campaigns at all levels of government in Canada. He is based in Vancouver.
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How would you describe your political path?
I sort of fell into politics accidentally. I knew that I wanted to make a difference, especially around environmental and climate policy. But I didn’t necessarily know how to do that or whether politics was the best way to affect change.
So when I volunteered on my first political campaign, it was for a party that was campaigning on a strong climate action plan and that had previously introduced the first carbon tax policy in North America. Even though I didn’t know anyone in politics at the time and knew nothing about campaigning, I was hooked from the first day I walked into the campaign office. I’ve since worked on dozens of campaigns at all levels of government, but I think my initial experience of entering politics almost by accident is one that a lot of people can relate to.
That said, it doesn’t have to be that way. More needs to be done to encourage youth engagement in politics so that they’re excited about getting involved. That’s one of the reasons why I co founded Nominee and why we continue to work to level the playing field. We want anyone and everyone to feel empowered and equipped to run for office.
“Even though I didn’t know anyone in politics at the time and knew nothing about campaigning, I was hooked from the first day I walked into the campaign office.”
What are the most useful lessons you've learnt on the way?
Integrity, commitment, and enthusiasm go a long way in politics. You don’t need to have the most polished resume, be the best public speaker, or be a public policy expert to run for office.
If you care about your community and are willing to work hard and take the time to listen to people, you really can make a difference.
What are the top three things that could be done to get courageous, ethical and trusted politicians in your area?
Electoral reform. People need to feel that they have a voice, a chance to win and that they’re part of a political system that truly reflects and represents its citizens.
Fair compensation and benefits. Local government politicians are paid as little as $5,000 a year and often don’t have access to health care, parental leave or other benefits. This is a huge barrier to getting younger candidates to run.
Civics education. Civics and outreach programs need to start early and continue throughout a person’s education.
What ideas and/or people are inspiring you at the moment?
I’m inspired by every single person who chooses to run for office and stand up for what they believe in at any level of government.
It may not always seem like it and of course there is still so much more to be done, but there has been real and tangible progress towards true representation in politics. New Zealand’s legislature has now achieved gender parity. Rishi Sunak is the first person of Asian descent to serve as Britain’s Prime Minister. More LGBTQ+ Americans are running for office in this year’s midterms than ever before. These “firsts” are fragile wins, but should nonetheless be celebrated as important milestones along the path to equality. And they have only happened due to the bravery and determination of people willing to step up and make a difference.
What story do you want communities to tell about politicians?
That politicians are people, not robots. They have real feelings, care deeply about their communities, and ultimately just want to make a difference.
When people think about politicians, they usually picture heads of state, mayors or other lofty positions that can sometimes make them seem unrelatable, out of touch, or at worst, dehumanized. But the vast majority of elected officials work in local government as councilors, school board trustees, or park board commissioners. They are our friends, our neighbors and our colleagues. They work tirelessly on our behalf for little pay, little recognition and little glamor.
Their public service should be celebrated, not vilified.
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