In 2020 the Alberta Government changed the municipal election act to allow for longer nomination periods. I fully understand the comments around "launching without policies" but here's what I'll say: For a non-incumbent, this is a steep mountain to climb. Edmonton is a city of nearly 1 million people. Candidates need to be able to build name recognition, a team, and fundraise as much as they can for as long as they can. Hence launching early.
This also isn't easy work. Meaningful and impactful policy takes time, and should be vetted by the people that it will most affect. In some cases, when it comes to homelessness for example, people’s lives are at risk.
If we want diverse representation for our next city council, we need to give people a chance. A chance to submit nomination papers, open a bank account, build a website, build a team, listen and engage with voters, develop policy and then release it.
Specific to the Mayoral race, let's remember this: the Mayor's seat is just one vote. What's more important than a grand vision or one specific project, is experience dealing with conflict and collaborating towards consensus. I believe the Mayor's vision needs to intersect with a number of different things like: the city plan, ward specific issues, both provincial and federal strategic initiatives and more.
Here's what you can do while you're looking at potential candidates to support, volunteer for or donate to: look at their LinkedIn profile, read their "about" page, ask them questions like "how have you and do you give back to your community?" get to know the person.
I've shared a lot about my history, my past, and I'm available to chat virtually anytime. Let’s shift our thinking here, #YEG. So far this is an incredibly diverse race and I’m happy to see that. Good things take time - and you should expect good things from your municipal representative.
“A city that works” has a number of different meanings, from the basics like being able to tap a phone or a card to ride transit, to the aspirational, a smart-city leading in innovation and technology.
Effectively leading a city that works starts with a Council that works. Both during my time at Innovate Edmonton when I would participate in Committee and Council meetings to today when I continue to attend them virtually, I notice that far too much time, energy and taxpayer money is spent exploring ideas that other cities have already researched and implemented. We need to embrace their learnings.
The feeling that we spin our wheels wasting time on unnecessary pilot projects or chasing ideas that lack common sense is something I have heard time and again from the hundreds of conversations I’ve had with Edmontonians since I announced my Mayoral intentions last year.
On top of this, members of Council have directed work that isn’t aligned with where we, as Edmontonians, have said we want to go. Sometimes it goes against the interests of our community partners, be they local businesses, hardworking non-profits, or other orders of government.
Finally, it’s important that we recognize that institutional knowledge is one of our city’s most important assets. We have a new City Manager and are about to welcome a number of brand new Council members. In order for them to be effective early will require historical knowledge of things we’ve tried before or are already doing.
The bottom line is that we’re wasting time, and other cities are outpacing us.
As Mayor, I will lead a collaborative, aligned council. I commit to ensuring our debates, motions, and inquiries are based on the principles of our own planning. The City Plan is our guiding document. We’ve gotten off course on too many occasions and lost the thread on what to care about and spend time on. While individual councillors can vote as they like, as Mayor I will hold Council and City Administration accountable to our defined goals and objectives.
When elected, I will establish an ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICER, independent of City Administration, who will rapidly vet and inform any motions or work directed by City Council up front of the work beginning.
This experienced City Builder will advise Council of previous explorations of the topic, how other cities have tackled the problem, whether it aligns with Edmonton's vision and values, and whether it serves to strengthen our partnerships. They will keep us focused on the bold action we need to take to recover from COVID-19, to align with our city plan, address our biggest challenges such as houselessness and continue building a City that retains and attracts the best talent in the world.
Specifically, this independent role would:
The work Council directs is focused and aligned with the vision and goals of the City Plan and ConnectEdmonton. It strengthens our partnerships with other orders of government, the region, non profit/post-secondary sector, first nations and our business communities. We no longer spend time reopening and examining things we have already done in the past, unless the context has changed enough to warrant it. We stop trying to “reinvent the wheel” and can take the lessons from other cities on the front end.
All Council directed work is clearly costed out, so we know exactly how much time and money was spent on preparing reports and doing work that diverged from approved work plans. This rigor and accountability will reduce the amount of unnecessary motions/reports and allow Council and Admin to apply limited taxpayer resources more effectively.
This is an innovative solution that drives real results and maximizes the City’s use of your tax dollar and the valuable time of city staff and community partners. Having a council that is focused and aligned will set the tone at the top. This is a specific and impactful action that the mayor can actually do.
From my own viewpoint, these are some of my beliefs about our city’s current state that have guided my decision to run for office:
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we need to do all of these things while firmly holding ourselves to a commitment of kindness, curiosity and to the golden rule.