Women's Initiative

Women's Initiative

Exercising Democracy: Questions for Municipal Candidates

This is a guest blog post written by WAVE Committee member Hersharon Sandu.

Anthony P. Jones
Now that we have an official list of candidates for the 2017 Municipal Election, do you know who you’ll be voting for on October 16?

Whether you’ve voted in the past or this is your first chance to flex your voting muscle, it can be a little overwhelming to find, research, compare, and choose the candidate that best represents you and your community’s interests at the municipal level. This can be especially difficult if you have not had the chance to meet your potential representative face-to-face or if you don’t see yourself reflected in their face.

Currently, Bev Esslinger is the only woman councilor on Edmonton’s city council. We now know that roughly 29% of the candidates running are women. This number is good because it’s up from the 17% we had last time. This number shows that the City initiatives like Opening the Potential and #AskHer created a spark within women leaders throughout Edmonton. Women from all walks of life, from political leaders to long-time volunteers to full-time homemakers to CEO’s, were asked to run this year. And while this number is definitely not representative of the 49% of women Edmontonians, it should be celebrated as a win.

We’ve been given the opportunity to change what our municipal government looks like. And while the goal is not to have an all-woman councillor’s boardroom, it would be amazing to see the diversity of Edmonton reflected among our representatives. To be frank, diversity is such a diverse issue that even an accidental micro-aggression can feel akin to willingly contributing to a system of oppression. But, walking on eggshells around an important topic does not lead to progress.

So, my ask of you is to ask questions of your potential representatives! Attend meet-and-greets when you get a chance, go to the Candidate Forums and ASK questions that will help you make the right decision. It may feel a little nerve-wrecking to ask a political representative what they’re doing regarding an issue that directly affects you but remember – who you vote for can completely change how that issue will be handled in the upcoming years. To get you started, here’s a list of questions that WAVE has workshopped that you could ask the candidates – whether they come door-knocking or you knock on their door. I’m sure that every candidate would welcome your questions; after all, they need your vote to win!

1. What are the key issues facing women in Edmonton and how do you plan to address them if you are elected to City Council?
2. An intersectional gender lens brings clearer focus to the needs, issues, and realities surrounding women, and raises them to equal importance of men’s needs and realities. What do you think are the most pressing women’s rights and gender equality issues in our City and how will you address them?
3. Why do you think it is important to apply an intersectional lens to Council decisions?
4. Edmonton has one of the highest levels of violence against women in Canada. What other initiatives do you feel the City should take on to increase the safety of women?
5. 70% of single parent families are led by women, most are low income. The City has just approved a new low cost bus pass for low income citizens. What else can the City do to support to help low income families?
6. Wage gap- How will you address women’s income and employment inequality generally as well as how income inequality is more pronounced for women from racialized communities?

We have spent too long debating – it’s time to do something. It’s time to stand up for gender equity. It’s time to stand up and demand for political leaders that represent and work for the people. It’s time for you to ask the candidates in your Ward why they deserve your vote. It’s time for you to VOTE!

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