A look back at when I ran for mayor.
ABOVE: Ryan Lythall makes his pitch for the city's top job during a 2018 interview with CBC. (Photo: cbc.ca)
With the municipal election fast approaching, I figured this would be an excellent opportunity to talk about my experience running (or rolling) in the 2018 municipal election.
As some of you know, I’ve been a long-time advocate for PWD, with my main focus being wheelchair accessibility and making public transit accessible for everyone.
I can’t recall if it was a particular issue or the fact that I was and still am frustrated by the city continuing to ignore the needs of people with disabilities. Regardless of the reasons, at the very least, I wanted to shake things up and, simultaneously, bring more awareness of our concerns to a higher level.
As the idea rolled around in my head, friends, my partner at the time, and members of the PWD community encouraged me. Shortly after, I took Para Transpo on a Friday afternoon and officially entered the 2018 municipal election.
Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing and was scared. I was scared of letting the community down, that I’d somehow make things worse, or that voters wouldn’t take me seriously.
While I do feel that many didn’t take me seriously, I understand that it’s a part of the game. It’s virtually impossible to please everyone, plus as a PWD, many have preconceived notions about us.
I also worried I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my obligations as the mayor. How would I be able to cut the ribbon at grand openings or attend bake sales? Para Transpo’s often late or doesn’t show up.
Seriously though, I had a lot of concerns.
Soon after I signed up, I had to get (I believe) 200 people to sign my form. That part was relatively easy and only took three or four days. Most signatures were from word of mouth and those who agreed that PWD were being ignored.
After that, everything started happening seemingly lightning fast. I had social media pages and accounts set up with my permission. For the most part, I approved all of the messages.
As I said, things were rolling really fast, too fast.
My days were filled with media interviews and answering questions from the voters. On top of that, I still had to manage my own life.
While all of this was happening, oil started leaking from my chair. I was stuck home for weeks, which killed my momentum. By the time my chair was fixed, I was both mentally and physically done. I was only able to make a few appearances.
At the time, I was very upset and quite literally drained.
Looking back on it now, I laugh about it. Perhaps having oil leaking was a sign or a warning that parts of me were fading.
So, for the most part, I began stepping back.
On the night of the election, I invited a few friends over to watch the results. Deep down, I knew that I didn’t have a chance, but none of that seemed to matter.
My family, friends, and supporters were all very proud. I guess that I can also say that I’m proud of myself. For a short time, in 2018, I ran for mayor, and nobody can take that away from me.
For those wondering, I ended up receiving 1115 votes. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and saying thank you to some of them, both in passing and through social media.
While I may not have won the election, I believe I was able to bring more awareness regarding issues affecting people with disabilities, not just locally.
My life has changed drastically over the past four years. I'd laugh if someone told me five years ago that I’d run for mayor and later become a professional writer.
But, here I am, four years later, doing it.
For that and everything that has happened; as a result, I am grateful.