Ward 12 candidates weigh in on NextGen and CEYC questions

What would you ask candidates running in the Edmonton City Council Ward 12 by-election? Last week, NextGen, in collaboration with City of Edmonton Youth Council (CEYC), asked social media followers to pick the top three questions they would ask the 31 candidates still running. After collecting the data, we reached out to candidates to answer these three questions: 

  1. Prior to running for this by-election, what have you done to improve the livability of the people in ward 12 or the city in general?
  2. What would be your priorities in the first 90 days of your term if elected as Ward 12 Councillor?
  3. Pick one of your platform commitments and explain how Edmontonians will benefit from it.

Out of the 31 candidates still running in the by-election, 12 responded: Jason Bale, Danisha Bhaloo, Nick Chamchuk, Irfan Chaudhry, Lincoln Ho, Kelly A. Kadla, Nav Kaur, Rory J. Koopmans, Terry McKinnon, Jeri Stevens, Nicole Szymanowka, and Laura Thibert. 

Below, we selected one response from each candidate to highlight, shortened in some cases for length. You can read everyone's responses in full here.

Question One:
Improving the livability of the people in Ward 12 or the city

Irfan Chaudhry

As a former crime analyst, as well as a volunteer with a number of Edmonton Police Service committees, I have strong commitment to making Edmonton a safe and inclusive place.  Having grown up in ward 12 (and now raising my young family here), I continue to be involved with a number of projects (such as Racism Free Edmonton, the Twitter Racism Project, and YEGHateCrimes.com) that look at levels of racism and discrimination in Edmonton in order to address these issues and improve our livability.
I am committed to building an Edmonton that is safe, welcoming and inclusive for everyone.

Terry McKinnon

For the past 20 years plus, I have been a community advocate, volunteer, community league member, service club member and a leader in public initiatives that have directly benefited the people of Ward 12 and Edmonton. The Windmill Bar & Grill is now closed, and the crime and damage to the community it spewed has ended. The Jackie Parker spray-park supplies a much needed source of summer recreation. The rest areas along the green spaces are highly utilized and a welcome addition. If it wasn't for the work of my associates and I, these things may never have been done.

Laura Thibert

As a long-time resident of Ward 12, I have worked with early learning coalitions in Southeast Edmonton, school advisory councils and participated in the Mill Woods Presidents’ Council representing community leagues in Southeast Edmonton. I have volunteered with The Meadows Community League Board of Directors as Vice President, having held previous positions as Children's Director and Secretary. I serve as a member of The Red Shoe Society serving Ronald McDonald House. I am a member of the Reading Ministry at Corpus Christi Catholic Church and Corpus Christi Catholic Woman’s League.

Question Two:
Priorities in the first 90 days of your term if elected

Jason Bale

Within the first 90 days, my top priority would be to open as many lines of communication to the constituents as possible. The more voices I can hear, the better I am able to represent those voices as their councillor. More specifically, I want to hear what the constituents think should be done about Uber and taxi services. A decision of that magnitude affects too many people to use personal judgement on. This is an issue that requires consultation from the community.

Lincoln Ho

First 90 days, I would have the ETS low-budget changes I've proposed done immediately. I'd also secure the federal infrastructure funding allocations to expand arterials to access Ward 12 communities of Ellerslie, Southeast Edmonton, and The Meadows. Visit more Ward 12 businesses and have open houses to hear more of what their needs are. Other initiatives done in the first 90 days would be getting the other low-cost initiatives like the arts plan and social programs which have the least economic impact. I have more initiatives on my platform which I would have started by the 6 month period as well. Printed out in size 10 font, I have 23 pages of initiatives. I'd encourage readers visit my lincolnho.ca page for my in-depth platform.

Kelly A. Kadla

I believe denying EPS their requested budget was a mistake and huge oversight. Underfunding the EPS sends a message to the public that crime prevention and public safety is not a priority. Edmonton is a growing community, vastly in urban areas, and struggling as EPS is now to meet response times is indicative of the lack of resources afforded, or rather, not afforded the EPS. Short changing the EPS budget essentially is like saying to the public that the police security blanket is reduced to the size of a tea towel.

Nav Kaur

One of the first issues I would address as the Ward 12 Councillor would be setting up a better mechanism for community consultation. The City has been doing a fine job with the Open City work, but I would like to see better processes from day one for the sake of my constituents. When thinking about engagement and including citizens in the decision making processes that affect our lives, we need to think about the systemic barriers that limit people’s engagement in the first place. As a community organizer who has lived in Ward 12 all my life, I have a detailed understanding of the population that calls the ward home and how it has been changing over the last several decades. Should I be elected, this will become even more essential for me to carry out my work as a Councillor. 
With the Council Initiative on Public Engagement, City Council has been actively working to include voices that have not always been at the table. It is important to me that the City is taking this intentionally inclusive approach to civic engagement. 

Rory J. Koopmans

Get rid of the LRT cash and convert it over to road and infrastructure repairs for streets and sewers.
Hold a meeting against crime in a church, a mosque and a faith-based location for other religious groups and combine an interfaith strategy together to combat it.
Get the Edmonton City Council to hold a full meeting in the Ward itself so as to be able to improve accessibility issues for Ward 12 residents and get them face time with the actual council working group as a whole. In this way, youth learn respect for municipal government as a whole.

Question Three:
Pick a platform commitment and explain how it benefits Edmonton

Danisha Bhaloo

After speaking with many residents at the door and over the phone for the past few months of the campaign I have heard that, among other issues, crime and community safety are top concerns for many people. I firmly believe that for a community to be healthy it is important for everyone to feel safe in their own homes and on their streets.  
In order for us to have healthy communities we need to explore the root causes of crime and work collaboratively with Edmonton Police Services who are doing preventative work in this area and in our community. I fully support the work of community leagues in the ward that are working with neighbours to break the cycle of crime by looking out for one another along with working with police and community services to create vibrant, safe communities.
Ward 12 deserves to have someone working on these issues at the Council table who has a deep personal and professional understanding of the issue, someone that can identify potential solutions, and someone with a strong voice to speak up for our community. I have that experience and I have that ability.  I look forward to bringing my education, learned skills and lived experience to continue to build our community together.

Nick Chamchuk

I want to push the city and EPCOR to finance, install and maintain solar panels on every house, and commercial or institutional building that wants them, so within 20 years, we are all "mini-producers" of power, selling surplus power back to "the Grid" and EPCOR, so everyone can make money and clean, green energy.
Some training could put NAIT graduates and unemployed folks to work installing a better future for our children and their children. Encourage large polluters, like Syncrude, to invest in green energy to improve their image and the Province's poor reputation. I would forward Edmonton's stellar reputation in green issues with programs and facilities that are the envy of the entire world!

Jeri Stevens

One thing I would really like to address is the lack of a Long Range Planning Strategy. BEFORE areas are developed, we need to build proper infrastructure to enable the residents to commute on proper roads and make provision for public transportation like LRT.  There are empty fields/spaces – use them.   Don’t build two lane dirt roads then later widen and pave in stages.  Costs more money.  Do it first.  Foresight NOT hindsight.  THEN you issue the Development Permits – which would eliminate the need for expropriating properties.  
Also set up proper development guidelines.  A homeowner deserves a proper lot size so houses are not so close together you can open your window and shake hands with your neighbour. Privacy?   The ROADS are so narrow there is barely enough room to pass especially when cars are parked on both sides of the road.  When we have a huge bizzard/snow storm, where will the snow be moved?  Room for Graders and snow removal equipment?  It would cost millions to remove the snow and windrows.  What about a FIRE?  The close proximity of the houses is a fire hazard waiting to happen.

Nicole Szymanowka

One of my platform commitments is to deliver better and more efficient public transit for use by Edmontonians. This includes the construction of the Valley Line LRT, but also working with the transit department to create better, more efficient bus routes. We need to work with the public on this issue to ensure we are addressing their specific transit needs.
Many people use public transit everyday, and those who don't may opt to if commute times are shorter and routes are more efficient. Public transit can be utilized by everyone.

A big thanks to all the candidates who responded. Voting day for the Ward 12 by-election is Monday, February 22.

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