Getting the job done - Campaign Launch Speech

"I was really fortunate that I spent most of my childhood in what is now Ward 11. It’s a place I’m intimately connected to, and it just feels right for my husband Steve and I to be raising our daughters here.  And it is the only place in this city where it felt right to run for City Council.  

For this event, I drove around Ward 11 putting up posters, and I got pretty nostalgic.  I stopped by the Oakridge Co-op, where we’d go rent a video on VHS after grocery shopping.  I dropped off a poster at Southland Leisure Centre, just a block from the Braeside townhouse that my mom and sister and brothers and I lived in.  I’d spend weekends with my dad in Acadia, picking nanking cherries from the bushes at the school. I headed down Southland to the Southwood library, just around the corner from our house on Sussex Crescent.  Now here we are, 5 minutes from where I attended Bishop Pinkham Jr High.

That’s my history.  Let me tell you about who I am today and why I’m running for City Council.

I want to be an effective Councillor.  Somebody who can get the job done.  And if we are going to deliver the quality of service that Calgarians need and deserve, then getting the job done means understanding my mandate and the mandate of City Administration. I’m part of a 15-member team on City Council where everyone has a vote. A Councillor has to rely on the expertise and talent of this immense organization and its subsidiaries to deliver the best product we possibly can at a reasonable cost. 

Taxes should get you goods and services that matter; dog parks, police and fire services, blue, black and green bins.  They shouldn’t pay for cumbersome bureaucracy, poor communication and the ineffective, self-serving use of political positions.  I want to be the Councillor who supports Administration to do their job, so they can provide Council with the information they need to do theirs.

I have seen a degradation of civility and courtesy in politics at all orders of government, and let’s not kid ourselves that it’s only south of the border.  Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I think elected officials should be held to the highest standard of behaviour and ethics.  

When did this stop?  Maybe you’re thinking “Janet, it was never that great” well, let’s see what’s possible when we do expect more of our elected officials.

Let’s see what’s possible when we don’t insist on imposing childish bans on the use of electronic devices and social media in Council Chambers, but instead have the confidence to know that the person we’ve just elected can exercise common decency, good judgement, and balance.

Balance.  That’s a word you’ll hear a lot on my campaign trail. Let’s bring some balance to Council Chambers.  No more adversarial, polarizing politics.  I’m not interested in overhauling City Hall.  The City of Calgary has 15,000 employees!  Let’s work within the framework and the mandate provided.  Let’s advance the plans and strategies and the work already underway so we can keep moving forward, rather than getting mired in the minutiae of decisions that have already been made!

A vote for me, is sending a message that you want the party out of municipal government.

I’m not a card-carrying member of any political party.  This results in partisanship and more who-you-know politics.  I’m interested in making City Hall more inclusive, not less.

This can happen if we strive to keep parties out of City Hall.  But it can also happen when we intentionally seek to engage those Calgarians who have felt ignored and forgotten for so long.  Why do we celebrate when we get 50% voter turnout like that’s a grand success?  There’s no such thing as voter apathy, it’s just that your average political candidate does a crummy job of talking about things that matter to the so-called “apathetic”.  Well, I’m not your average politician.  And I want to tell all those people who feel like their elected officials have forgotten about them, for what it’s worth, I get it.  

To those 1 in 10 Calgarians living in low-income, I’ve spent the last 7 years advocating for policy, supporting communities, government and the non-profit sector to address the root causes of poverty.  For those families facing child care fees greater than your mortgage, I support enhancing access to affordable, quality child care in our city.  For those working part-time or unstable jobs, not sure if you’re going to pay the bills, I will work tirelessly to bring decent work to Calgary, so your kids and my kids can thrive here the way we did.  And to those suffering from homelessness, a mental illness or addiction - which could one day be any of us or our loved ones - whoever you are, wherever you’re at, you’re welcome in my city.

There are no simple solutions ahead for this City Council.  If there were, we would have seen them by now!  We are an intricate, buzzing city of 1.3 million people, and what we need are sustainable and vibrant communities.  Communities thrive when there is a diversity of income, homes, and ways to get around and family type.  I promote the idea of working where you live, and a decentralized model of economic hubs that reflect the changing future of work.  Especially for Ward 11 communities, I support gentle densification that honours the look and feel of existing communities, whether it be through modest mid-rise development or secondary suites.  The South West Ring Road, the BRT, changing demographics, non-standard work, development of T'suutina land, the Victoria Park Redevelopment Plan ... there are big changes coming to Ward 11.  Let's make sure Ward 11 has the representative you need to manage these as opportunities, not threats.  I want to be sure that you see yourself in our dynamic and ever-changing city.

Effective.  Balanced.  Inclusive.  With your support, we can see what’s possible.