Let’s Talk About Ward 7

With less than 3 months until the next Municipal Election on October 18th, 2010, my team and I have worked hard to update the website to better engage in a dialogue with you, the citizens of Ward 7 and of Edmonton. We’ve added links at the top so that you can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and Connect2Edmonton (which will host its own election forum later on). Most important is this blog, where I will add detail to my election platform. Please check back here throughout the run-up to the election and consider lending a hand. I want to make sure that I am hearing your opinions and concerns so that I can better represent you through the election, and, I hope, afterward as well.

After some debate about how to kick this off, I suppose I should begin with why I chose to run in the first place. On top of a number of friends & neighbours twisting my arm, I see many similarities between what I do in my role as a social worker and what elected officials should be doing – it is all about listening to people, connecting them to the services that they need, representing their interests, and acting as an advocate.

I’m also running because I see Edmonton at a turning point, and I want to help it to turn the corner. Several long-neglected core neighbourhoods are experiencing renaissances – as young families move in to areas such as Alberta Avenue, Highlands and Beverly (to name a couple of Ward 7 examples), we see these areas reborn as vibrant and healthy neighbourhoods. Refreshed infrastructure combined with a vibrant business community and local arts and festivals only add to this revitalization, drawing people out of their homes and out into the streets to participate in their communities.

I’ll save a detailed discussion of the potential closure of the City Centre Airport – and the unique opportunity it presents Edmonton to create a sustainable, transit-oriented, family-friendly in-fill community, home to tens of thousands of citizens – for another post. However, I will say that in-fill development must be a key part of Edmonton’s future growth, more so than ever before. It is simply unrealistic (not to mention uneconomical) to constantly expand services outward into new suburbs as those of us in mature neighbourhoods see our schools and other essential services close around us.

The Edmonton Transit System, too, is approaching critical mass when it comes to ridership, particularly as we expand the LRT to new corners of the city. At the same time, however, we’ve seen little attention given to overhauling the bus network, exploring late-night transit and a connection to the airport, and keeping transit affordable for those who need it most. With the right leadership and some smart choices, we can help to shake Edmonton’s reputation as the most car-dependent city in the country and build a transit system that works for Edmontonians. I began this project when I helped to found the Transit Riders’ Union of Edmonton several years ago, and I hope to continue it as your city councillor.

With a new 12 ward system meaning a single councillor per ward and shuffled boundaries, this election promises to be a little different. Incumbents, especially those forced to run outside of the ward they live in, are more vulnerable than before. The new system may mean only one choice instead of two, but that one choice is now crucial. I hope that I will have your support when it comes time to vote on Monday, October 18.

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