The municipal election is coming up quickly. On Oct. 18, you have the opportunity to vote for the candidate you believe will make the greatest impact on our city and one that will listen to your voice as a post-secondary student.
We have reached out to all the mayoral candidates to ask them about their platform and their plans to help post-secondary students, if elected.
Meet Edmonton’s mayoral candidates.
Krushell, 54, is not a new face in municipal politics. She served as a three-term city councillor with the City of Edmonton before taking a hiatus from politics in 2013 to focus on family. During that time, she built two start-up businesses. Krushell was unable to provide a comment in time for publication.
In the face of the city’s current challenges, Krushell believes that she brings a unique understanding of both private and public interests. She describes her perspective as balanced but bold.
Krushell’s plan for Edmonton is guided by three questions: How can we improve? How can we innovate? And how can the city help its constituents? Her ideas are built upon principles of collaboration, consensus-building, and empowerment.
Highlights of her platform include focusing on economic recovery and aiding Edmonton businesses by supporting local, adding core services and maintenance, and optimizing support provided to vulnerable communities.
Learn more about Kim Krushell’s platform at krushellformayor.com.
A current City Councillor and third-time mayoral candidate, Mike Nickel is perhaps the most elusive candidate when it comes to media requests. He did not respond to the griff’s request for an interview.
Nickel is a seasoned politician and not a new player in the municipal scene. According to a description on the City of Edmonton’s website, his political career began as a student as president of the University of Alberta’s Students’ Union. He also successfully obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Alberta.
He began his career in municipal politics in 1998 and ran for two elections before obtaining a victory in 2004 as city councillor. He lost his seat in 2007 before successfully returning in 2013. Nickel is known as the conservative voice on council who aims to maximize the value of tax dollars.
Despite being a long-standing politician in a democratic and consensus driven municipal government, his reputation has been marred by his recent use of social media to post derogatory comments about other councillors, according to a June 24 article in the Edmonton Journal penned by Dustin Cook.
Nickel’s platform is built upon ensuring “value for everyone,” according to his campaign website. He is critical of the municipal government’s current approach on managing homelessness. He wants to end the photo radar program, which he believes to be an attack on the rich, and is unsupportive of bike lanes. His platform also includes lowering management and consultant fees as well as changing the permit system to allow for a more efficient launch of businesses.
Learn more about Mike Nickel at mikenickel.ca.
Augustine Marah is running for mayor because Edmonton has given him so much. He came to Edmonton from Sierra Leone in 1981, and has been involved in community activism ever since. Through the help of an Edmonton teacher, he was able to further his education and build a successful career. “I owe a lot to the city because it has made the most significant difference in my life,” Marah says.
Marah has worked as a bilingual educator across all levels of public and Catholic schooling, as well as at the university level. “If Canadian parents have entrusted me with their children for the past 32 years … I also have the belief that they should entrust me with my abilities as a teacher to manage the city,” he says.
Marah’s goal, if he is successfully elected, is to build a high-speed rail train that runs between Edmonton and Calgary, to facilitate communication between the two cities, and encourage business plans to improve tourism by capitalizing on the river valley. Other goals include investing more in overseas schooling, expanding the arts and music scene in the city, and continuing Don Iveson’s efforts in reducing homelessness.
Marah is committed to listening to the voices of Edmonton’s youth and creating a city that they would think twice about leaving. “We adults should not make any decisions without bringing in the youth at the table where we make those decisions. If we don’t do that, (they) will be the biggest losers,” he says.
Learn more about Augustine Marah at augustineformayor.ca.
Michael Oshry anticipates difficult times ahead for Edmonton, and he believes he is the person to lead the city forward. “(This is) really the first time in a generation that there’s a lot of uncertainty as to where our economic and social successes are going to come from,” Oshry explains, “and we’re going to need some very strong leadership.”
Oshry worked as a City Councillor for four years, he has a degree in municipal government, and he has worked as an entrepreneur. He started two businesses: Firma and Remedy Café.
Economic recovery is the focus of his plan. Oshry plans to diversify the economy further, attract investment, and help entrepreneurs succeed. He will also focus on creating small infrastructure projects instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on one larger project.
“We’re not going to be able to do these large infrastructure projects,” Oshry explains, “but we can make an equal if not more impact on the city by doing small neighbourhood-scale infrastructure.” This would include off-leash parks, bike parks, and playgrounds.
Oshry has committed to freezing property taxes for one year, and he also wants to reduce the City’s budget. “The realities out of COVID are that individuals and businesses are having a hard time,” he says. “Property taxes have been going up for a decade … and it is really time that we stop that to give everyone a break and let them catch up and let businesses survive.”
Additionally, Oshry announced a policy, “Freeplay,” that will provide free after-school sports/recreation for all children under 18, which will double as childcare. His Social Procurement plan requires construction companies to hire and train underemployed workers so those workers can earn higher wages, instead of $15 an hour.
For post-secondary students, Oshry is focused on creating a city that they will want to stay in after they complete their education. “We have to make sure that the economy’s strong so (post-secondary students) can get a job or start a business. We have to leverage the expertise coming out of universities or colleges or the trade schools, to get them into the workforce, and then (we’ve) got to build a city that has (reasonably) priced housing.”
Learn more about Michael Oshry’s platform at michaeloshry.ca.
As the youngest mayoral candidate, Diana Steele’s platform focuses on making Edmonton into a socially thriving and progressive city.
When asked about the first thing she would do as mayor of Edmonton, Steele said without hesitation, “end homelessness and promote social welfare programs, because as soon as we can get that under control, a lot of things will begin to fall into place.”
Ambitious? Yes. But as a mom of two boys, president of the Crestwood Community League, and a masters degree graduate, Steele is used to working hard and creating lasting change.
She hopes to end homelessness by collaborating with private and public organizations to build tiny homes that would “provide everyone with a roof over their heads and a safe place to store their belongings.” She also hopes to bring back the safe injection sites, “because we know they work … and right now (we’ve) got people dying of (overdoses) that we know we can help prevent.”
Steele is also very passionate about supporting Edmonton’s post-secondary students. When asked why post-secondary students should
vote for her, Steele responded with, “I can see the future before most people can, so I think for me I’m the best bet for the younger generations because I’m always going to be their biggest champion. “
Some of the things she wants to do will directly benefit post-secondary students, including re-evaluating and improving the Edmonton Transit Service, listening to student ideas, and making the policy approval process faster so that ideas can turn into realities.
Lastly, Steele would be the city’s first Métis mayor, and while she continues to learn about what her heritage means, “it is not a part of (her) culture that will be forgotten about.” She is “here to fight for everyone in Edmonton and would take that honour very seriously.”
Learn more about Diana Steele at dianasteele.ca
Rick Comrie is a born-and-raised Edmontonian who had his first paper route delivering the Edmonton Journal at age 12. After graduating high
school, he went to NAIT for business accounting and marketing, and then opened his own tire business.
As mayor, Comrie would want to bring back western Canadian values and make Edmonton into the “city of champions” once again. As a small business owner in the city, Comrie understands Edmonton’s fiscal needs and wants to work hard to bring back the economy we once had and “no longer support the misplaced ideology of Ottawa that extends to our City Council.”
If elected, his goal is to reduce government debt and reduce the feeling of indifference within the government. He believes that he can find a solution to all of Edmonton’s major problems.
His platform, according to his website, focuses on four main objectives:
• “A plebiscite on the LRT”
• “Preventing crime in Edmonton”
• “Achieving safer city streets”
• “Your voice matters! I (Rick) am listening”
Although no detailed action plans are available on his website, Rick also aims to fix homelessness, business failure, joblessness rate, excessive taxation, and diminished career opportunities. This information was found on Comrie’s campaign website as he was unavailable for comment.
Learn more information about Rick Comrie at comrieformayor.ca
Brian (Breezy) Gregg
Most people know Brian (Breezy) Gregg as a musician. He has played music in bands and on his own in the Edmonton area most of his life. Despite being a guitarist, Gregg also acquired an interest for politics as he grew up in a political family. “I’ve watched (politics) all my life,” he says. “In high school I embraced socialism more than my family did.”
Throughout Gregg’s music career, he says he realized that the industry was “boom or bust.” Gregg has a diverse background from navigating his music career through various venues, and working in both private and public sectors of the music industry.
For the approaching mayoral election, Gregg has a platform where he is committed to solving issues such as “getting the big money out of politics” and working on providing free Wi-Fi and transit for all Edmontonians.
One of Gregg’s plans is to create a voting incentive program which will award voters with $1,000, once they make the effort to do so. “This program is going to result in taking money from the very very top, and passing it out to almost everyone,” Gregg says. “It will be one concrete step to shrinking the wealth gap.”
Gregg also has a different campaign strategy than some of the other candidates. While it is traditional to put up lawn signs and print paper brochures, Gregg has chosen not to take this route. “I think it’s symbolic of paying attention to the climate emergency,” he says. Gregg is planning on running his campaign on less than $1,000.
His website states that the biggest hurdle we face in being able to deal with the climate emergency is the problem of big money in politics. Gregg says “when you see a plastic lawn sign on somebody’s lawn, think ‘Breezy for Mayor.’”
Learn more about Brian (Breezy) Gregg at briangregg.com.
As someone who arrived in Edmonton at 18, Amarjeet Sohi says he built a life for himself and his family that he is proud of in a city he loves. Sohi, who is a veteran politician, says that Edmonton is at a critical point. He believes that tackling Edmonton’s most important issues is about unity and working together with all levels of government to enact change.
This year, Sohi started facilitating a course at MacEwan called Compassionate, Collaborative & Inclusive Leadership: Anti-Racism Capacity-Building. He wants to see more significant racial equity in Edmonton so that everyone can feel safe, no matter what their background.
“We announced that if I get elected, on our first council day, I will make a motion for council to consider and approve directing the administration to develop a 100-day action plan to tackle hate and hate violence in our city and start implementing that immediately,” Sohi said.
Beyond racial equity, Sohi’s platform focuses on economic growth, protecting the environment, addressing social challenges, protecting public services and supporting the arts. He says that he has deeply engaged with students and understands that they are very concerned about the future on an economic, environmental, and social justice level. Sohi says he knows that it’s essential to deal with the present and work towards the future with youth in mind.
“The City of Edmonton has a youth council, and that youth council has been doing phenomenal work. We need to listen better and work with them better to inform policy and develop programs that live up to their expectations.”
Learn more about Amarjeet Sohi at sohi.ca.
Cheryll Watson, a lifelong Edmontonian, has a deep love for the city she grew up in. However, Watson believes that the time she has spent living and working in cities worldwide gives her an advantage. “That different country and city experience gives me a bit of a view to what other countries or cities are doing better than we are,” Watson said.
Watson, who spent the last four years leading Innovate Edmonton and working directly with City Council, says her choice to run is very personal. She says that her experience made her realize that she could bring new ideas and a fresh perspective that can really benefit the city of Edmonton.
Watson says the community has created her policies, and although she says it is impossible to pick one policy that stands out as her favourite, she feels very strongly about city safety, and her policy, Safe City For Women and Girls, is among the top of her list. Watson feels that even simple changes, such as better street lighting and security in LRT stations, can go a long way to improving safety in Edmonton.
As far as students are concerned, they can expect Watson to fight for a city they will want to stay in. Watson, who previously worked at such tech companies as IBM and INTUIT, knows the importance of economic opportunity and quality work for graduates. “I want to create a city that the nearly 10 per cent of our population right now that is enrolled in post-secondary education wants to continue to live in once they graduate and sees an opportunity to build a career here,” Watson said.
Learn more about Cheryll Watson at cheryllwatson.ca.