When Jasmine Mian first came to Calgary back in 2012, she came to train to be one of the world’s best in wrestling, to chase an Olympic dream.
“I came to Calgary in 2012 because it was a city that you come to, to be world class at something. It was a place of opportunity and promise,” she said.
“Since then, we’ve fallen on some hard times.”
Now, Mian, who has a background in public policy, is running for the seat in Ward 3. Incumbent councillor Jyoti Gondek announced her run for mayor on Jan. 13.
She believes there’s are bright times ahead in Calgary – but it’s going to take some work to get there.
“It’s one thing to complain about things. It’s one thing to comment on public discourse – but we need people to run,” Mian said.
“I’m the type of leader that could champion our current and future needs. That’s why I decided to get in the race.”
Mian originally volunteered with the group Ask Her YYC for a year. Ask Her YYC prepares Calgary women to make the jump to civic politics.
She said the barriers for women candidates are real, and prevent many women from taking the plunge.
“I spent all my time encouraging women to step up and do it, ‘it’s OK, we can deal with the barriers and here are the tools to do that,’” she said.
“I realized after a year of doing that, that I had all the tools as well.”
She said if she was going to encourage others to jump into the race, she should do the same.
On the Green Line
Mian said Coun. Gondek has been a great advocate for Green Line infrastructure to north Calgary.
One of the reasons Mian started thinking about a run came as she rode the bus from MacEwan Glen to downtown for work. It was standing room only.
“I was standing on the city bus, driving past other neighbourhoods and just reflecting on how underserved Ward 3 is in terms of public transit and safe accessible green spaces,” she said.
“Many people in ward three have invested so much of their lives into North Central Calgary. But every public infrastructure project that breaks ground up here is so hard fought and hard won.”
She said the Green Line is a quality-of-life project. One that projects the city’s future and the shifting priorities of citizens. Mian said it will be an infrastructure project that attracts investment into the city, from development to hosting bigger events and conferences.
“If we continue to just build a city that’s meant for cars, that’s going to create increased congestion, that’s going to put more strain on the roads and the maintenance, and possibly the environment,” she said.
City growth, police funding
Ward 3 is a microcosm of Calgary, Mian said. It has established communities in its core, and suburban communities on the fringe. We asked about the challenge of meeting the needs of both in her ward.
It will require a balanced approach, she said. Established communities need reinvestment. They need retrofitting to improve the public realm, to raise quality of life and mobility in the area.
“In the northern areas, we’re growing, and we’re going to have the opportunity to get it right this time. And I think that it’s about responsible and forward-thinking development,” she said.
On defunding police, Mian said Calgary officers have a lot on their plate. Rethinking how we police, but also supporting front line officers, CPS staff and communities is key.
“This is something that I think we’re not going to get right the first time out of the gates,” Mian said.
“It’s going to take a lot of back and forth – but that’s what you do with good policy.”
She wants to test ideas, get feedback and then retest.
“I think that you have such a diverse community in Calgary, we deserve to hear from our diverse communities, about their needs, and about how we can do things better,” she said.
Applying athletics to politics
Mian competed in the 2016 Rio Olympic games in wrestling. While she finished 12th there, she has a gold medal from the World University Championships and a bronze from the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
After training here since 2012, and everything the city’s given to her, she said it’s time to give back.
But, what are the sport takeaways she can apply to municipal politics?
“I hope people take away that I’m a hard worker, that I’m not afraid to chase after big goals for our city,” she said.
“I’ve made big goals happen in my own life; I’ve seen how they’ve happened on a global stage. I think we can apply those things here.”