The official nomination period is yet to begin, but already one potential candidate has declared her intention to run in the upcoming St. John’s Ward 2 byelection.
Ophelia Ravencroft is an academic and community activist who hopes to replace the seat recently vacated by Hope Jamieson — a seat which Mayor Danny Breen said must be filled within three months.
A city spokesperson told The Telegram that details and dates for the byelection are in the process of being finalized, and will be released in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Ravencroft is wasting no time getting started.
She explained that she’s soon beginning the research phase of her PhD in ethnomusicology at Memorial University, so she’ll have time to dedicate to municipal politics.
She said she hopes to continue bringing a more progressive voice to council, as Jamieson did.
Ravencroft is a nonbinary woman, making her the first openly nonbinary person to run for office in the province, pending an official nomination. She thanked 2SLGBTQ+ activists and former political candidates Gemma Hickey and Jennifer McCreath for being trailblazers in this regard.
“We’re entering a time of tremendously increased visibility and discourse around trans issues — I think in the last five years, in particular, I’ve seen a real explosion of this stuff,” said Ravencroft.
“So, I think it’s probably more important now than ever for us to be at the forefront of these conversations, and really involved in the institutions that can have an impact on us.”
Ravencroft said a detailed platform is forthcoming, but some issues she plans to champion are accessibility, bolstering the cultural sector, and providing a transparent and independent voice on council.
“We’re entering a time of tremendously increased visibility and discourse around trans issues... I think it’s probably more important now than ever for us to be at the forefront of these conversations, and really involved in the institutions that can have an impact on us.” — Opehlia Ravencroft
Ravencroft said the pandemic has heightened income inequalities, so despite fiscal concerns at city hall, she believes it’s more important now than ever to ensure there’s funds spent on services such as public transit and better snowclearing.
“I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more people who really need those in the next little while.”
She said she also plans to meet with members of the business community to hear their concerns.
Ravencroft said her activism centres around feminist issues, particularly queer and trans rights and sex worker rights, including work with the Women’s Centre and Safe Harbour Outreach Project.
She has a Masters degree in history, and lives downtown with her young family, according to a news release announcing her intention to run as a candidate.
As per the Municipal Elections Act, whoever wins the Ward 2 byelection will hold office for the unexpired term of council — in this case, until the next municipal election next year.
To be officially nominated, once the city announces the nomination period, Ravencroft - and anyone else who intends to run in Ward 2 — will need to complete nomination papers which includes nomination by two qualified electors, and provide a municipal elections clearance certificate respecting taxes and other charges owed the city.
Candidates must also be Canadian citizens, age 18 or older, a resident of the city for 30 days immediately preceding the nomination period, not indebted to council for taxes or other charges, and not be otherwise disqualified under the Municipal Elections Act.