Get to Know Who's Running: Guiscela Perez Arellano (Ward pihêsiwin)

By Emil Tiedemann

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...


Ward pihêsiwin

Guiscela Perez Arellano


"My name is Guiscela Perez Arellano, and I am 33 years old. I am originally from Durango, Mexico, located just two hours inland from Mazatlan. Durango is not one of the biggest cities in Mexico and probably not a touristic one either. Still, it has amazing landscapes as it is just beside the 'Sierra Madre,' which is the Mexican part of the Rocky Mountains. My father, mother, and brother live in Mexico; they have each pursued a career in architecture. In 2004, I was an exchange student with Rotary International and had the opportunity to travel abroad to discover a whole new world in Europe, especially in Germany. I met people from all around the world, and some of them are still my closest friends after 15 years. In 2008, I returned to Europe, to Paris, France and worked as a Au-pair."

The Questions:

IE/ Why do you want to run for City Council?

Guiscela Perez ArellanoAs an immigrant, a person of colour, and a young woman, I don’t feel represented or see myself reflected by our current city council. 

I am originally from Mexico and I have lived in Germany and France. Edmonton has been my chosen home for the last 10 years. I am one of you, I am your neighbour, and I care about our collective opportunities and challenges. 

I have always been involved in my communities. I am action-oriented, I speak four different languages, and I bring a global perspective to all that I do. 

For me, this election is about representation, resilience, and accountability. I know many people in our community don't feel that their voices are heard. I am here to change that. When elected, I will invite and diversify the voices included in City Council policy creation and decision-making, while taking action on local issues that are important to all of us.


IE/ 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?

GPA

  • I am a young woman who speaks four languages: (Spanish as my first language, English, German and French)
  • I have Public Relations degree, and working towards my Education degree
  • A strong voice for the underrepresented 
  • Heart for service - want to see a world that is equitable for all
  • As an immigrant who chose to live in Edmonton, I see many great things here in this city as well as ways to build on this foundation to overcome the challenges we are facing due to the pandemic 
  • My experience with Rotary has offered me a global perspective and a unique lens to better understand the challenges each community and citizen faces each and every day 
  • I am a good listener, empathic and respectful of diverse perspectives; this allows me the ability to truly represent all voices at the city council


IE/ What do you think are the 4 or 5 biggest issues facing Edmonton right now that you want to focus on most?

GPAMy larger focus is on building a resilient City, where we successfully recover from the pandemic and become more financially sustainable and self-sufficient. This includes seeing programs and partnerships developed to set a foundation for our businesses to thrive locally and globally. 

I believe as we move forward, we need to ensure that our City Council represents all Edmontonians with integrity and transparency, that our taxes are invested responsibly, while balancing the distinct needs of each neighbourhood, building resilient infrastructure, taking climate action, and addressing social equity. 

My platform is focused on the following:

  1. Building a more financially resilient City, with an economic environment where local businesses can thrive.
  2. Ensuring the voices of all Edmontonians are heard and reflected in the City’s decision-making, policies, programs, and services.
  3. Improved City services for Ward Pihêsiwin ᐱᐦᐁᓯᐏᐣ and beyond. 
  4. Ensuring that all new City infrastructure and replacement infrastructure, along with all new houses, infill, and renovations are climate-resilient and energy-efficient.
  5. Building easy and efficient transportation options that serve all of us, not just some of us.


IE/ What do you think are some of the issues/struggles affecting your particular ward that you would like to focus on most?

GPAI've been busy door-knocking! It has been such a great experience and I feel the passion that Edmontonians have for our City. I am so thankful that they are so willing to share with me. Here is what I'm hearing: 

Currently, not everyone in our Ward Pihêsiwin ᐱᐦᐁᓯᐏᐣ feels included or reflected in our local municipal government. This is because of race, economic standing, culture, sexual orientation, religion, and even age. Residents don’t see themselves in the City’s decision-making processes, policies, programs, and services. 

There are challenges with the level of services that we receive. Often road maintenance and snow clearance are lacking. We also find that our parks have overflowing garbage bins with dog waste. City services are important to the residents of Ward Pihêsiwin ᐱᐦᐁᓯᐏᐣ, not just for aesthetic reasons, but for our health and safety. 

Being in an outer-ward, poverty, abuse, and addiction are often hidden behind closed doors, but it exists none-the less. Residents want to help neighbours who are struggling, want appropriate services in place to provide support. 

The Edmonton transit bussing system has just undergone some major changes that have made it really difficult and inefficient for many of us to commute to work, run errands, and attend appointments within and outside of Ward Pihêsiwin. Residents want the City to revisit and revamp the changes that have been made, while actually engaging the actual users in our Ward.


IE/ What are some of the city/community initiatives that you loved and would like to expand upon?

GPAI think we have a really good plan, now we have to take action towards those initiatives, we need to move forward and fast, the world kind of stopped with COVID but at the same time, needs didn't, we need to catch up and meet all those needs and adapt to the new world we are now living in. I believe the city has laid down great initiatives, and I am looking forward to seeing the result of them, more than anything be part of them.


IE/ What are some of the city/community initiatives that you are/were against, and what would you do differently?

GPABased on my previous response, I think the initiatives are great, I am excited to be part of these and see where they take us.


IE/ Do you think elected officials, such as City Councillors, should be able to block people on social media sites like Twitter?

GPAYes, but within reason. I support residents sharing opinions and I do believe they should have access to their elected officials. I don't support harassment, threats, derogatory commentary; these are the accounts that should be blocked. I believe the City of Edmonton should have a policy in place that sets a standard for this challenge and that it shouldn't be left to individual Councillors to decide where the line between respect and harassment is.


IE/ 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)?

GPARecently, Edmonton City Council reinstated the mask mandate and it will take effect as soon as this coming Friday. I have received several inquiries about my position regarding masking, and I know this is very controversial. 

Can face masks help slow the spread of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19? Yes. Face masks combined with other preventive measures, such as getting vaccinated, frequent hand-washing and physical distancing can help slow the spread of the virus. 

We need to work together for the protection of the collective whole. While many of us are already fully vaccinated, we still need to protect those who can't get vaccinated for medical reasons. We want to avoid another lockdown as businesses wouldn't be able to sustain it; hospitality, retail, and many other businesses have been shut down during the past three lockdowns and another will impact them, employees, their families and our economy. 

I understand we are exhausted from the last 18 months. We all want to get back to a sense of normality but the reality is that this virus is here to stay and what we knew as normal might never come back. The most important thing is that we are in this together and we have to take care of each other. 

Be kind to each other! 

Albertans are strong and we have won many battles when we stand together. This is just another battle that we will win; stand strong, stay strong, together we will beat this.


IE/ What is your favourite thing about living in Edmonton?

GPAThe River Valley, the parks and recreation areas. Vibrant arts and cultural sector: festivals (we are known as a festival city and some of the best summer festivals in Canada) Winspear Center, Art Gallery, Museum. 

Edmonton is a good city when it comes to the standard of living/cost of living: wages, cost of housing, schools whereas other cities are facing challenges in these areas (these are just a few examples).

Diversity in our city: restaurants, food, citizens, and more. Brings great opportunities for learning, sharing and understanding.

Volunteer opportunities to give back. 

Dynamic post-secondary institutions which contribute to learning, research, and strengthens our economy (U of A, Concordia, Kings, MacEwan, NAIT, and others). 

In the end, I have also found the love of my life, second home and new family and friends in this amazing city. If we could have summer weather for the rest of the year, what's there not to love?


IE/ Can you describe yourself in 5 words or less?

GPAYoung, dynamic, community-minded leader


Thank you, Guiscela! 

Follow along with the candidates on Twitter HERE#yegvote2021

Find Guiscela on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram
Visit Guiscela's website HERE
Contact Guiscela HERE.

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