Get to Know Who's Running: Amarjeet Sohi (Mayoral Candidate)
There happens to be a Municipal Election coming up in Edmonton on October 18, 2021, and I think it's important for locals to get to know the City Council candidates running for their particular ward (as well as their Mayoral candidates, of course). I chose to get more involved in the election this year and so wanted to give each candidate a chance to tell us a little about themselves, their vision, and why you should vote for them. I have sent a 10-question questionnaire to each of the 2021 Edmonton Municipal Election candidates and will post their responses (100% as written) here as they come in. With that said, let's get to know...
“Economic resilience is possible when we have a strong social fabric. Let’s combine our economic values with our social values. The economy, social issues, climate change, and equity are interconnected. A healthy economy starts with healthy, resilient people. If we want stronger communities with thriving businesses, we must address issues of homelessness, substance use, and mental health. And we cannot leave anyone behind as we tackle climate change. We must create the conditions for people to give their best to our society and economy. True success will only be felt when we address the deep-seated issues of racial pain and trauma. This is work we must do together. I’m spending the next few months meeting with Edmontonians to hear their views on the city’s future. I’ll be releasing a more detailed platform over the summer."
I♥E/ Why do you want to run for Mayor?
Amarjeet Sohi/ I love this city. Edmonton has given me so many opportunities since I immigrated here from India. I’ve worked in the public service, I’ve been part of sports teams and arts organizations. I really believe in giving back to this place. It’s why I served as a city councillor from 2007 to 2015, and then as a federal minister from 2015 to 2019. But my story isn’t that unique. There are thousands of people in this city with similar experiences. And not all of them have had the same opportunities as me. I want to help those people succeed in Edmonton, as I have. And through my years of experience, I’ve developed the leadership skills, the knowledge and the temperament needed to be the city’s mayor.
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?
AS/ I’ve worked on the front lines of Edmonton’s public service as a bus driver. I’ve been a union organizer, and I’ve volunteered on stage productions. My work at Edmonton Transit is what compelled me to become a city councillor in 2007. With 8 years of experience on council, I understand the interplay between City Council and City Administration.
I also earned a lot of experience when I was a Member of Parliament for Edmonton Mill Woods. I served both as Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and Minister of Natural Resources. In both of those roles I worked with communities all over Canada, and other orders of government to help build infrastructure and responsibly develop our natural resources. That work required a lot of negotiation, discussion, planning and leadership, which are all qualities that are needed from someone in the mayor’s chair.
You can read more about my record in public office HERE.
I♥E/ What do you think are the 4 or 5 biggest issues facing Edmonton right now that you want to focus on most?
AS/ My policies really reflect where I think the biggest issues facing the city are, and they include:
Economic Development: how can we rebuild an economy coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic that balances supporting businesses, and making sure there are economic opportunities and benefits for everyone?
Environment, Energy Transition and Climate Change: we can’t wait any longer to enact policies that will mitigate climate change. It’s here, we’re experiencing it right now. I’m looking at policies that encourage transitioning away from fossil fuels, and protect our parks and river valley.
Arts & Culture: We can’t have a vibrant city without arts and culture. These industries were decimated by COVID. It’s our responsibility as a community to lift up and support arts and culture events and organizations.
Public Services: We need to protect and enhance quality public services. These are the basics that citizens expect: good public transit, access to recreation, libraries and other services. We need to find ways to deliver these more efficiently without cutting the services that Edmontonians depend on.
Social Supports: The pandemic has revealed a lot of the cracks in our systems of support for vulnerable people. We’ve seen increases in people without homes, we’ve seen the elimination of safe consumption sites affecting drug use in our communities. We need to do better here. And this requires all orders of government working together toward the same goals.
I♥E/ What do you think are some of the issues/struggles affecting your particular ward that you would like to focus on most?
AS/ One issue that I think the entire city is struggling with is the question of equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging. What does it look like for us to build a city for everyone, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation? It’s why I’ve committed to taking immediate action if I’m elected, and it’s why I think diversity is needed on city council. I want to see more women, more people of colour, and folks with a diversity of experience represented. We should be a reflection of the city we represent.
I♥E/ What are some of the city/community initiatives that you loved and would like to expand upon?
AS/ I’m a big fan of the low-income transit pass, and accessibility around transit in Edmonton in general. Our transit system can only become great if we have a critical mass of people using it. That will mean a combination of making it affordable for people, and ensuring it’s convenient to access.
I♥E/ What are some of the city/community initiatives that you are/were against, and what would you do differently?
AS/ I think the redesign of Edmonton’s transit system failed to take into perspective some pretty key riders, including low-income and vulnerable Edmontonians who depend on public transit. I’ve developed a policy that supports the notion of the 15-minute city, which would help mitigate some of the new challenges introduced by the transit system redesign.
I♥E/ Do you think elected officials, such as City Councillors, should be able to block people on social media sites like Twitter?
AS/ I think it’s important for elected officials to listen to their constituents. One of the things that I have taken seriously during this campaign, and that I will take seriously if elected is connecting with Edmontonians, even those that don’t agree with me. But I also recognize that social media can be a source of abuse and harassment. I don’t think an elected official should be subject to threats or abuse, but I do think that some politicians are a little too quick with the block button when they’re being told something they don’t want to hear or don’t agree with.
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)?
AS/ Our primary goal should be to ensure our citizens are protected, particularly those who are most vulnerable. Times like these call for strong leadership, and like earlier in the pandemic, it’s important the City show leadership to help us all get through this fourth wave. I support City Council’s decision to reintroduce the requirement for indoor masks, and if I am elected, I will very seriously explore vaccine requirements for anyone working for the City who is not exempted due to a health condition.
I♥E/ What is your favourite thing about living in Edmonton?
AS/ I love the people in this city. Edmontonians are some of the most caring people I’ve ever met. They take care of their friends, neighbours and even strangers. When I arrived here I was accepted by this community. And I want to build a city that does the same thing for everyone who wants to live here.
I♥E/ Can you describe yourself in 5 words or less?
AS/ Ready to lead with heart.
Thank you, Amarjeet!
Follow along with the candidates on Twitter HERE!