Joy! Pure Joy! I remember feeling great joy and accomplishment when the street lights finally worked on 127 Street north of 167 Avenue. I even went out at dusk to watch the lights turn on! That seems like such a little thing but, it was something I had worked on since I was elected and it took countless phone calls, emails and persistence for 6 months before I saw the lights! Some issues I have faced as a City Councillor are public and debated vigorously, however, some local issues require leg work and persistence. As a Councillor we get to do both!
Often I am asked is the job everything you thought it would be and I’ve always replied yes but, it is even broader than I thought. As a Council we sit as shareholders on Epcor, EEDC and Homeward Trust.
The question I get asked the most is how does it feel to be the only women on council, however, I have nothing to compare it to. I have enjoyed working with the boys down the hall and they are all true gentlemen and are very supportive. A great example of this is when I raised the issue of transit and lrt safety concerns that I had heard from countless women. They listened sincerely to the concerns expressed by women including the representatives from the Women’s Advisory Voice of Edmonton and Post Secondary Students Association. Actually they did more than listen – they acted and set in motion several actions to improve safety and security on lrt and transit. I was very proud of the work that we did as a council to address the concerns expressed by so many women.
As I reflect on my journey, there have been many proud moments for me including the establishment of the women’s committee as a committee of council. Women responded to this committee with over 130 applications for the 15 member committee. It was so exciting to see so many women engaged and willing to share their time and experiences with us.
Another highlight for me was the establishment of school zones in Edmonton after 40 years. I had worked on this issue in my former life as a School Trustee for Edmonton Public and as the Executive Director for SHAPE (Alberta’s walk to school programs). Many folks told me that I should take this on and that it wouldn’t happen. That didn’t discourage or deter me at all as it was the right thing to do. Don’t get me wrong that there was no opposition but, rather an opportunity to do the right thing.
So at this point, I can say I have a few battle scars and a few victories. Budget is one of those seasons when decisions are very difficult and you need to stand strong on your own convictions. As we wade through the variety of great programs and needs it is impossible to fund them all. You can promote the ones that are important to you and hope your colleagues will agree. You also vote no if you feel that it is not the best use of our limited resources. They are not easy decisions but, ones you have to make. At the end of the day each of us does what we feel is best for our ward and for our city.
My favourite part of the job is people. We get to go to a lot of events and have many opportunities to interact with people. Sometimes they are celebrations and sometimes people are looking for help. Other times it is representing the city and meeting some terrific organizations doing great work in our city.
We live in a great city and I often mention that it’s not about our buildings, roads or even the arena that makes our city great. It is our people. Edmonton is full of passionate, dedicated and respectiful people. We can be proud of our diversity and our willingness to support others and together build a great city that we call home.