Lauren Herschel said there’s been some good work at Calgary city council, but it’s time for new people and new ideas.
Herschel officially announced her candidacy in Ward 11 on Tuesday. The current councillor, Jeromy Farkas, is in the mayoral race for October’s election, opening the door for a new representative.
The past several years have been tough in Calgary, Herschel said. She wasn’t immune to the upheaval, having been laid off three times in five years. The 15-year resident of Calgary said she’d been considering a run for some time.
“I really gave it some thought, and I thought, it feels like the right time to go in to do this,” Herschel told LiveWire Calgary.
When Herschel first moved to Calgary from Ontario, she figured she’d only be here a couple of years.
“I really fell in love with Calgary. I bought a house and I put roots down here, and I really can’t imagine living anywhere else,” she said.
Her run in Ward 11 is an opportunity to give back to a city that has given her so much, she said.
A communications professional, Herschel has worked most recently at BILD Calgary and the Calgary Public Library. In her time with the CPL, she worked leading up to the opening of the new Central Library.
Herschel, a resident in the southwest community of Oakridge, said clearly the economy is at the forefront of election issues. She said even those who are employed are still worried about Calgary’s economy.
That state of economic limbo is distracting local investment, she said.
“I think from a business-world perspective, I think people are hesitant to invest in Calgary or perhaps invest in new projects in Calgary,” she said.
Removing barriers for businesses, citizens or community groups – whether it’s city bureaucracy or financial hurdles – will be a priority for her. She saw it in her work with the city’s development industry.
“I don’t think the way things are right now with some of the policies and procedures and processes, I don’t think anybody’s set up to succeed, including the city,” Herschel said.
One of the biggest problems is the city follows the exact letter of their policies and guidelines. She thinks the city needs to consider the “spirit” of those guidelines, and foster community innovation.
“I think sometimes – more than sometimes – they hinder that kind of creativity and innovation,” Herschel said.
“I think we often focus on the what; what bad things can happen. We create rules and processes around that when those are typically the exception and not the rule.”
Ward 11 issues
As Herschel has made her way around Ward 11, one of the big issues she’s hearing is that of traffic safety. The ward encompasses several major roads: Anderson, Deerfoot, 14 Street SW, Glenmore Trail, and citizens are concerned about correlative traffic.
“There’s concerns about how people are coming off of those roads, then don’t slow down going through neighbourhoods,” she said.
As a result, Herschel is an advocate for reduced residential speed limits. Though, she doesn’t think it’s a silver bullet to solving all pedestrian safety woes. Particularly because most roads are different, from speeds, to design, to curves.
Public safety is also something she’s heard in the area. Petty crimes, particularly around LRT lines, are a problem for nearby residents.
With her development industry background, Herschel said she has an eye on the many middle-aged communities in her ward.
“I think it’s important that we have, again, an eye on what the long-term plan is and how does redevelopment fit into these established areas,” Herschel said.
“Most of the areas are pretty open to adding some density, but they just want to make sure that it’s done in a thoughtful, balanced way.”
Green Line, defunding and fluoride
Herschel said she supports the Green Line plan as it stands. She’s worried, however, that there’s a threat of revisiting that plan.
“In which case, we could lose out on funding and this thing could just never happen and I think it’s important that it does happen,” she said.
A lot of work has gone into the $5 billion project and it’s time to move ahead, Herschel said. Particularly at a time when the economy is lagging.
In terms of Calgary police funding, Herschel said she supports the Calgary police and their role in the community.
“I think, just like with any organization, you need to every once in a while, do a temperature check, and are we doing the right thing,” she said.
She supports examining a reallocation of funds to boost other initiatives where police aren’t necessarily warranted.
On fluoride, Herschel supports the reintroduction into Calgary’s water supply. She did, however say one area resident put a different take on it.
“You can support fluoride but perhaps not support this delivery method,” Herschel said.
“But that said, in the absence of a different plan. I think, for now, it is a good thing.”
She said the city should continue to examine if the water supply is the best delivery method to aid in dental health.
If elected, Herschel said Ward 11 residents – and Calgarians in general – can expect honesty and transparency.
“What you see is what you get with me. Facts matter to me. It’s important we’re sharing the right information and that we’re sharing as much information as we can so people understand the decisions that are made and they understand the issues,” she said.
She believes her combination of experiences in Calgary make her an ideal candidate for the area.
“I think that it’s really going to allow me to share and understand different perspectives, perhaps a bit quicker than others might, which hopefully will allow me to move things forward more quickly,” Herschel said.
“I’m going to be somebody who wants to make changes, I’m not going to just try to perpetuate what’s been done in the past.”
Calgary’s municipal election will be held Oct. 18, 2021.