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Kumar touts technology, engagement

By: Grant Burr

Posted: 08/21/2018 11:30 AM

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Mitesh Kumar says he feels good about his campaign for city council as he talks with people and discusses their issues. He plans to continue those conversations with residents if elected in October’s municipal election, pledging to be available 24/7 to address the needs of Steinbach residents.

Kumar, a licensed immigration consultant, has lived in Steinbach for two years. Born in India, Kumar lived in Toronto and Calgary before calling Steinbach home.

In a smaller city like Steinbach, Kumar says he has felt very much at home. It’s a place where he can walk wherever he needs to and is filled with familiar faces, who often express the same kindness he recalls growing up in India.

That experience in immigration is part of Kumar’s focus as a councillor candidate. He believes his background gives the city the opportunity to become an investment destination

But he worries that some people are sowing seeds of confusion over the plank of his platform and his background, which he wants to make clear is about coordinating so local businesses can get investment from overseas

"My goal is to hand pick people who can invest here so that it helps us, and brings more taxes in the future if business grows and comes," he said.

"I'm promoting investment immigration, not just filling this place with people and taking the jobs of our local brothers and sisters."

Kumar says he has also faced question about his faith, with some wondering if he is a Muslim. As a Hindu, he wants to dispel that too, expressing some frustration that some seem focused on a question that is unrelated to anything he’s advanced as his platform.

"I respect every religion. We need to vote based on merits."

Where Kumar sees merit is investing in technology as a way to engage younger citizens. He suggests a mobile app and council meetings broadcast live are ways of connecting with the community more and said a dedicated team should be tasked with evaluating new ideas for the city to implement.

He’d like to see more engagement in elections too, suggesting that the city should take advantage of legislation that allows for municipalities to establish rebates for council candidate election costs‑an idea that was also mulled recently in the RM of Ritchot.

"It will promote more people participating in the election," he said.

He wants councillors to be more accessible too. Kumar has launched SteinbachTV.com as a way of connecting with voters and is active on social media, all part of connecting with residents in today’s world.

"We need to be flexible, this is the 21st century," he said.

Establishing a city bus service is a priority as well. He says Steinbach needs to follow the lead of other larger cities to ensure that mobility rights of citizens are addressed.

It’s an idea that will require more analysis, he acknowledges, suggesting council may need to look at reducing costs elsewhere. Public transit is an important piece in promoting the city for further investment, he says.

Though the city is now also seeing investment in ride-sharing possibilities, Kumar says the city continues to have a role to play in ensuring mobility rights.

"We cannot compare with a private businesses whose main goal is to profit," he says.

Supportive of recreation in the city, Kumar says he hopes that through technology, cost cutting, and investment, that new recreation projects that have long been discussed by the city can finally make headway to benefit Steinbach residents.

"They work so hard. They need to have recreation and these facilities around, so they don't have to go somewhere else to enjoy their life."

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