Students know him as The Dawg Father, PhD (professional hot dogger), and while they may not all eat from his eponymous grill at Dalhousie University, they know Jerry Anthony Reddick. The man has become a minor celebrity among students at Halifax’s universities.
This fall, The Dawg Father has cooked up something new: a plan to get elected to city council by campaigning on student issues, like the cost of education and affordable housing.
The timing seems ripe. On Saturday, for the first time in Halifax’s history, the majority of the city’s 35,000 post-secondary students will be eligible to vote in municipal elections.
While some on campus would welcome an advocate on city council, others are wary. With ten criminal convictions, The Dawg Father has a history of clashing with Halifax law enforcement, which he details on his website where he says he owes the city more than $80,000 for traffic tickets and also asserts that the “po-po” have “evil intentions” for him due to “systemic racism.”
Aside from The Dawg Father, there is little campaigning on campus. Yannik Manga, a student union representative at Saint Mary’s University, says he doesn’t know of any other politicians having visited campus.
As temporary residents, whose young demographic tends not to vote, students are easy for most councillors to ignore, says Reddick. “To city council, the students are just kids,” he adds. “But they know me and they trust me to represent them.” He hopes that will motivate them to go to the polls.
“I think you’re going to see a tremendous jump in student participation,” says Reddick. He says he was inspired to run for council after talking to students at his stand. “For 15 years, I’ve been hearing them complain about landlords and not being heard,” he says. “Most students, don’t know where to start with their problems,” he adds. “They don’t even know who their councilors are.”
Cory Richard, a Halifax native and graduate of King’s, says he is glad someone is trying to bring student issues to council. “I think it’s great that he is making students aware of their rights,” he says. He also says that it’s presumptuous to assume The Dawg Father will get the student votes.
Jackson Byrne, a fourth-year Dalhousie student, says that while The Dawg Father’s campaign is good for students, he doesn’t predict he’ll win a seat. “I think that anyone who takes the time to register and vote will also take the time to look at his campaign website,” he says. The Dawg Father’s official campaign page outlines an plan for the city to set up a $50-million annual bursary program and build 25,000 units of affordable housing for students. Byrne calls that “unrealistic.”
He also says that many people might be put off by the Dawg Father’s criminal record. Reddick admits he has ten criminal convictions and has been incarcerated four times.
Richard says that while the Dawg Father is not the ideal candidate, he believes there is a chance he’ll make it to council. Either way, he hopes that Reddick’s candidacy will at least inspire students to go out and vote. “I really hope he is right about student participation,” he says.