“… engagement by ordinary citizens supplies the democracy in a political system. Without them, city government is dominated by officials, experts and lobbyists. The greatest challenge we now face is how to transform engagement systems to allow us to tap citizens’ full, democratic, problem solving potential.” (Strengthening Public Engagement in Edmonton, May 2015)
The statement quoted above describes our current engagement environment. The situation is made worse by an “echo chamber” effect, where those same officials, experts and lobbyists hear the perspectives of only other officials, experts and lobbyists and don’t have the feedback or input of the citizens they serve.
Ward 9 has over 60,000 eligible voters, and a total population of over 100,000. With City Administration engagement currently, it is largely through open-house information sessions that are advertised online and through community leagues. This generally occurs at a point in time when input may not effectively inform or affect the course of action being discussed and tends to be infrastructure focused.
Realistically, it is impossible to engage 100,000 people effectively using this approach.
At the core of being an effective councillor is to act as an ombudsman for the community, striking a balance between understanding the views of the community (feedback, communication, discussion) and representing the community views at City Council.
I believe that genuine Councillor engagement must be a combination of formal and informal, proactive and reactive efforts.
I will respond to direct inquiries within 72 hours to ensure that Ward 9 residents are getting the information that they need in a timely manner.
I will meet with residents to discuss your personal concerns and ensure that you are getting the support that you need, whether it is by me or program delivery arms through the City or Province.
I will attend key community events such as home owner association AGMs, community league AGMs, Area Council meetings, and social community events (ie Windermere Days, Art in the Park, TRAC 10K Run, etc).
If elected, I will create a Local Advisory Group that meets 3-4 times a year to proactively discuss hot button topics, bring issues up with me, and help to develop consensus. I will also develop a parallel advisory group for youth and include both in joint discussions.
I will also hold periodic Town Halls for the greater community so that major issues can be broadly discussed.
I believe that elected officials have the greatest responsibility to those that they serve in the community and I will ensure that Ward 9’s many voices are heard and fairly represented with City Council.
If you have an idea or concern not addressed here, or if you simply want to talk more about how we can build better communities, please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you!