By Emil Tiedemann
There happens to be a Municipal Election coming up in Edmonton on Monday, 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...
"I am passionate about Edmonton and proud to have been born and raised here. My husband and I have called the Meadows Community home for 30 years - and this is where we raised our three children. I was involved with our children's school and sporting activities - participating on parents' advisory councils and coaching and managing community sports teams. More recently, I have been active on the board of The Meadows Community League and as Volunteer Coordinator with University Hospital Foundation's Festival of Trees. I earned my Bachelor of Human Resources & Labour Relations in 2015 and with 30 years in the financial services industry, I bring a unique blend of experience to consider both the fiscal and societal aspects of decisions made by City Council. I want to help lead our community into a bright future that brings more opportunities for individuals and families to make a good life here in Edmonton."
I♥E/ Why do you want to run for City Council?
Jo-Anne Wright/ I want to provide the residents of Ward Sspomitapi a strong voice on City Council and to bring forward their concerns and ideas so that individuals and families can continue to make a good life here in Edmonton. I am committed to being a truly representative councillor and to push Council in a positive direction.
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?
JW/ I bring a unique blend of experience to consider both the fiscal and societal aspects of decisions made by City Council. I have 30 years experience in the financial services industry that will help when making those tough budget decisions. I’ve lived and worked in this community for over 30 years. I’ve wanted to stay connected to the community through volunteering - either through my children’s school & sports activities or with the local community league. I’ve also given my time to the University Hospital Foundation’s Festival of Trees and other non-profit organizations.
I♥E/ What do you think are the 4 or 5 biggest issues facing Edmonton right now that you want to focus on most?
JW/ A) Many residents are unsure how we’re going to recover economically through, and beyond, the pandemic. That’s why we need to ensure we are getting good value for our dollars, support business with safe re-opening strategies and collaborate with neighbouring municipalities to promote the Edmonton Metropolitan Region as the place to do business.
B) Recent attempts to privatize some of our public programs and services have caught the attention of many Edmontonians. We need to re-consider these decisions and make sure it doesn’t impact the future operation of our City run golf courses and recreation centres.
C) Many residents are tired of hearing about the cost-overruns and time delays on major projects. Our new council needs to establish policies that will direct administration to include stronger performance measurements and stricter penalties on contracts for these major infrastructure builds. This is especially important as we look towards further LRT expansion.
D) Housing is a basic human need, and we must ensure the availability of affordable housing options and accompanying supports for all Edmontonians. It’s important for City Council to advocate to other levels of government for the financial support to bring about much needed change.
I♥E/ What do you think are some of the issues/struggles affecting your particular ward that you would like to focus on most?
JW/ A) I’ve been listening to a lot of residents’ concerns while meeting with them on their doorstep and safety seems to be a big priority for them. The number of speeding vehicles we have going through some of our neighbourhoods right across the Ward worries them. We need to focus on traffic calming initiatives beyond speed bumps and increase enforcement activities.
B) Our recent Bus Network Redesign has impacted many who aren’t finding the system convenient. Residents need to get where they need to go, when they need to get there in order to maintain and increase ridership. And some are wondering if they’ll have the right connections to get to the new Valley LRT when it becomes active in early 2022. We need to ask administration to take another look at their plan and engage more residents in the revisions to the plan.
C) Residents are questioning the roll-out of the new waste collection system. Although the goal is to reduce the amount of garbage going into our landfill, many would prefer the black bins be collected every week and the less smelly recycle bags collected bi-weekly.
I♥E/ What are some of the city/community initiatives that you loved and would like to expand upon?
JW/ I appreciate the partnership the City has cultivated with Community Leagues to create places and programs for local residents to enjoy. Our green spaces and trail systems throughout the creeks and river valley have proven to be much loved amenities especially during the past year and a half. Looking at the city in smaller 15-minute walkable communities is an approach that makes sense.
I♥E/ What are some of the city/community initiatives that you are/were against, and what would you do differently?
JW/ The City has embarked on numerous other initiatives that aren’t well known and perhaps one thing that could be done differently is to ensure greater promotion of these initiatives or prioritize them and take a more targeted approach.
I♥E/ Do you think elected officials, such as City Councillors, should be able to block people on social media sites like Twitter?
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)?
JW/ Since the provincial government abandoned us and abdicated their responsibilities to the municipalities, I supported Council’s decision to mandate masks to protect residents in our community by limiting the transmission of the disease and to help businesses operate. I was later disappointed that not all councillors voted in favour of continuing with the mandate – especially when the Premier declared we were Open for Summer. Having heard the warnings from the medical experts and those on the front lines, I knew full well we would be Closed for Fall.
I♥E/ What is your favourite thing about living in Edmonton?
JW/ The best part about living in Edmonton is having that small town, community feeling but with all the amenities and activities that a big city has to offer. I enjoy the festivals in the summer and am growing to have a better appreciation for the Winter City Strategy.
I♥E/ Can you describe yourself in 5 words or less?
JW/ Kind, Organized, Compassionate, Inquisitive, Strong.
Thank you, Jo-Anne!
Follow along with the candidates on Twitter. See Jo-Anne's Platform/Priorities HERE. Visit Jo-Anne's website HERE.
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