Congratulations on your recent win to become my representative on Edmonton City Council. The ballots cast through the election gave you a strong mandate of over a third of votes in Ward 5, beating out eight other worthy opponents.
Over the past six months, our paths crossed as we both made efforts to connect with Ward 5 residents in the race to City Hall. I have impressions of who you are and what they stand for but I don’t think I actually know you. I am looking forward to the opportunity to watch you in action over the next four years and connect with you more in our community.
Before I get to know you, I wanted to be honest about some of the assumptions I have based on what I witnessed through our in-person interactions and the communications you chose to share publicly. I hope that by openly sharing my perspective, you can correct me in the coming days, weeks, months, and years of your term through your public service.
Assumption #1: Your political ties govern your decisions and actions
Your strong connections to the former PC Party and to the emerging Alberta Together Party are undeniable. Both of those come with a set of values, policies, and expectation of conformity. As a resident of Ward 5, I am concerned that these existing policy platforms will guide your decisions more than the wants and needs of residents and, ultimately, the best interests of our city.
Assumption #2: You are at the mercy of your wealthy financial backers
You come from affluence and your campaign was funded by the wealthy elite, some of which are also linked to the political parties mentioned above. Large donations often come with expectations that could heavily influence your decisions. I worry that the opinions of development industry and a handful of rich people you are connected with will matter more than the lived experiences and perspectives of Ward 5 residents.
Assumption #3: Your privilege will keep you blind to the realities most face
You exude affluent privilege. The way you understand and experience the world is candy-coated and disconnected from the day-to-day realities of others who are not like you. Based on what I know, I’m guessing you have never struggled to make ends meet or face tough decisions to cover the basic necessities of life. You live a sheltered life, free from worry and doors open easily in many ways for you. On a fundamental level, this lived experience would disconnect you from the realities that most of your constituents face yet you are charged with making decisions on their behalf.
Assumption #4: You lack the knowledge to do your job well
The way that I heard you respond to questions at forums and how you expressed yourself on social media conveyed to me a surface level understanding of civic issues and decision making. Many of your campaign promises are unachievable and immeasurable. Your use of buzzwords and a vague vision left me without a clear understanding of what you actually stand for. I am concerned that there will be no concrete way to grade your performance for the next four years if there is not a clear understanding of what you promised to do.
Assumption #5: Your approach to decision making does not include space for differing perspectives
Throughout your campaign, I followed your social media closely. I noticed that any time someone challenged you or asked a tough question, you simply deleted their comments instead of engaging in a dialogue and understanding their point of view. This is hugely concerning for me. 65% of voters did not choose you this election and you need to represent their views as well. Even more importantly, only 12% of eligible voters in Ward 5 voted for you and the other 40,000+ people still need you to represent them in your decisions at City Hall.
I hope that these five assumptions I have about you are incorrect and I want you to prove me wrong. To do this, I want to see you represent all the residents of Ward 5 in an equitable way. I want to see you reach out to those who have different perspectives and opinions than yours and find ways to represent them as well.
Over the next four years, you will be asked many tough questions. Many of those questions will come from me and my supporters. When challenged, I hope you take a stand – online, in Council Chambers, and, most importantly, in the community. I hope that you succeed in representing the residents of Ward 5 and being the strong advocate we need at City Hall.
Best of luck for the four years to come.
Your fellow Ward 5 resident, Miranda