Get to Know Who's Running: Tyler Zutz (Ward Anirniq)
TZ/ I have decided to run because I want to represent and inspire Edmontonians.
I am tired of politicians justifying poor decisions. I believe that our representatives have lost their way and I no longer believe that they understand what real accountability looks like.
I want to change that conversation, and forge a new type of relationship between constituents and representatives. I believe there is a better way forward.
I♥E/ Can you tell us about your past or current experiences that you think could possibly benefit/ translate to your position as a member of City Council?
TZ/ My career has been focused in professional services as an independent consultant for the past fifteen years. Over that time, I have become a trusted advisor in both the private and public sectors, specializing in Business Analysis, Project Management and Digital Transformation.
I have delivered complex projects that span many governmental sectors and had to consider the needs of a diverse set of stakeholders. I have delivered many projects on time and on budget with total budgets exceeding $10M.
I have also been active in investigating and researching municipal issues such as corporate donations to municipal campaigns ahead of those campaign funding laws being changed. Here is an article that highlights my work.
I♥E/ What do you think are the 4 or 5 biggest issues facing Edmonton right now that you want to focus on most?
TZ/ 1. Proper Supports for Local Businesses
Our local businesses are struggling. This affects tens of thousands of jobs and families in Edmonton. If we can afford to subsidize downtown condo developments for $23M, we can find a way to better support the lifeblood of our economy; local businesses.
2. AccountabilityEvery incumbent and candidate says they want more accountability. But why does it never improve? Why is administration allowed to withhold information from council before council votes? Why do our representatives never report on their own performance?
I will clearly set out outcomes and performance indicators in my platform and report against those measures quarterly. Constituents deserve to know how their representatives are performing and I plan to provide them with that information openly and frequently.
I often hear at doorsteps that our representatives are difficult to get a hold of. That is a huge problem.
It drives down democratic participation, increases apathy and contributes to low voter turnouts. Democracy is supposed to be an invitation to improve your city and your neighborhood. If your representative won't pick up the phone, it leads to all kinds of negative outcomes.
I aim to be accessible on an unprecedented level. My platform will include a plan to increase engagement with community leagues, neighborhoods, youth, LGBTQ2S+ community, and every last constituent. We can't improve our community if we don't have a chance to make our voices heard. I want to make your voice, our voice. Stay tuned for this to be a major part of the platform I am developing.
4. Honest Conversations
Everybody wants their roads to be plowed once a week and for their taxes to go down every year. But council too often explains their decisions to us after the fact and treats us as though we are not mature enough to understand that trade offs exist with every decision.
I want to forge a trusting relationship with my constituents, so that I can facilitate the discussion of these trade offs and ask for their feedback upfront; before I vote. I believe that Edmontonians are responsible and educated enough to have these conversations honestly, as peers. I want to start a new type of conversation between politicians and voters.
5. Improved Direct Representation
Councillors have the responsibility of representing their constituents. It is their job, but too often they are making votes without ever asking how you feel. When that happens, I ask myself, who are they representing?
When we increase community engagement, increase accountability and start having those honest conversations, we are going to improve how our representatives represent us. I aim to make that happen. Every issue. Every Vote. Every Day.
I♥E/ What do you think are some of the issues/struggles affecting your particular ward that you would like to focus on most?
TZ/ The lack of engagement before votes between councillors and constituents is very concerning. Too often our councillors are representing City initiatives back to their Wards, and they should be representing their constituents to the City. This needs to end.
There are also several community specific concerns in my Ward:
The community of Baturyn was split between two different Wards in the recent Ward re balancing. This change was made without any public consultation whatsoever. These types of changes hinder the ability for my community to have their local projects supported by their councillors.
The community of Dunvegan, has recently been bombarded with noise from the adjacent rail training yard. I understand that this land is not under the jurisdiction of the municipality, but I think the City can do more than offer the residents their condolences. Creative and collaborative solutions need to be sought and I am currently investigating what win-win options might exist between the affected community and the land owners.
I♥E/ What are some of the city/community initiatives that you loved and would like to expand upon?
TZ/ In June of this year, the City made available, grants to support local businesses through the difficulties they were facing from COVID. But the grant amounts were only between $1k and $5k. These small grants won't cover a month's worth of rent for most businesses. It is a start, but the City needs to provide more meaningful support to our local businesses and subsidize downtown condo developments less.
The City is currently working on reviewing how to integrate social and local weighting factors into their procurement processes. This effort needs to be accelerated. Our local businesses are struggling and the City is still hiring companies from out of Province over our local businesses.
I♥E/ What are some of the city/community initiatives that you are/were against, and what would you do differently?
TZ/ The redesign of bus routes was not popular in the communities that I seek to represent. Many routes are changing and many mobility limited constituents will face difficult decisions between navigating long walks in the winter and potentially having to move to be closer to transit services.
Redesigning Ward boundaries and splitting community leagues without public consultation was very poorly thought out. How could the city split community leagues without inviting their feedback. That needs to change.
I♥E/ Do you think elected officials, such as City Councillors, should be able to block people on social media sites like Twitter?
TZ/ As someone who is active on social media, my initial instinct was no. If Councillors are leveraging social media to make City announcements and invite their constituents to engage; blocking people from participating in that essential part of democracy is exclusionary. However, after tuning into the debate on this issue, I took notice of some of the personal stories of abuse that some Councillors had experienced and changed my mind on this issue.
I believe that public officials (and anyone for that matter) should be able to work and exist in a safe environment. If we allow public officials to block abusive people on social media, we are putting the responsibility of making a fair determination in their hands. As long as public officials take that responsibility very seriously, I am fine with blocking abusive people. I believe that is is a slippery slope either way.
I♥E/ When it comes to COVID-19 restrictions, what do you think we got wrong (if anything) as a city or province, and is there anything you would want to do differently (municipally OR provincially)?
TZ/ I think that the lack of clear metrics tied to some of the policy decisions led to confusion and mistrust. In order for a government to lead people through a difficult time like this, trust, clear communication and clearly defined metrics are essential.
A couple of examples of failures were issuing Mask Exemption cards and then rescinding them a couple of days later. This is clearly a lack of planning and thought around who should qualify for the cards. Prior to the mask bylaw being extended to the end of 2021, we were promised clearly defined metrics and a citizen dashboard to monitor those metrics and goalposts. Those tools were not provided to Edmontonians before the City extended the mask bylaw, without the promised metrics whatsoever. Again, this is indicative of a lack of planning.
I♥E/ What is your favourite thing about living in Edmonton?
TZ/ The people. This is such a great and friendly city to live in. I raise my family in Rapperswill, and the local amenities such as parkland, local ski hills, walking paths have been such a lifeline to keep my family active and engaged, particularly throughout the last year!
I♥E/ Can you describe yourself in 5 words or less?
TZ/ Ready for this job.
Thank you, Tyler!
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See Tyler's Platform/Priorities HERE.
Visit Tyler's website HERE.