Kumar Sharma said the people who know him best know that he has a passion to serve.
The long-time Alberta broadcaster said he was prepped to run in the 2017 municipal election but opted to sit it out as he was starting a business. Further, his children were also getting married that year.
“I wasn’t ready at that time and for the past four years things have been in planning,” Sharma said.
Now, he’s running to serve the residents of Ward 3.
Sharma said once current Ward 3 councillor Jyoti Gondek decided to make her run for mayor, calls came in asking him to put his name forward for the council job.
“I live in the ward, I run a business here, and I thought why don’t I just serve with passion and get people involved,” Sharma told LiveWire Calgary.
Sharma proudly said no one’s ever seen him grumpy or tired and he’s regularly involved in organizing events across Calgary. He’s particularly involved in Calgary’s South Asian community.
The time was right when he first announced his run back in April, he said.
He’s running a campaign focused on the economy and taxation in Calgary.
Calgary’s top challenge: Economy
Sharma said he’s hearing a lot of issues at the door in Ward 3. Top of mind for Calgarians in that ward are the economy, jobs and taxation. Residents are also talking about climate change, innovation and retention of the city’s youth.
“People are worried about taxation, people are worried about their job, so there are quite a few things I’ve been hearing in ward three,” he said.
In Ward 3 specifically, Sharma said it has a high concentration of young families. They looking for connectivity, green spaces and improved transit service.
“Some of the people who have moved in from different parts of the world over here and they have had better transportation,” Sharma said.
“People talk about connecting to different parts of the city.”
Sharma said Ward 3 has some good available green spaces, but he’d like to look at how to better utilize them so residents can make the most of the areas.
Green Line / Arena
Sharma said that the Green Line is a very important connection to north Calgary. He reiterated the desire for better connectivity.
“This has been very much neglected I would say, and there has been a failure on several issues,” Sharma said.
Specifically on the Green Line, Sharma said there’s frustration in the ward because residents were told the line would begin making its way north to 16 Avenue. He said they were told the line should go north to south and now it’s going south to north.
He’s keenly aware of the funding issues surrounding the Green Line, and if elected, Sharma would like to immediately push for a progress report.
“I’m very much a strong advocate of having the Green Line to the north central, and connected to the city,” he said.
As a long time event promoter, Sharma said the Events Centre is an important location to draw investment and economic activity. He wants to make sure costs are kept in check, but he thinks the support is worth it.
“I support the East Village, and the Flames, and we should have a lot of investment so that when investment comes in there, that’s exactly when people will flourish,” Sharma said.
Sharma also supports more vibrancy and activity in downtown Calgary. But, he tied it back to connectivity, particularly by improving the Centre Street corridor connection.
Development, police funding
Balance is the key to ongoing development in Calgary, Sharma said.
He’s seen the success of communities like Livingston on the north end of the ward. Sharma also recognizes the importance of established area development.
On the reallocation of Calgary police funds, Sharma said the right people should be addressing the calls.
“I have spoken to district seven police officers and couple officers are good friends and clients of mine,” he said.
“They’re so overworked, so overworked.”
Sharma said he’d like to see investment in both policing and front-line personnel to help deal with emerging calls.
No matter the issue, Sharma said he wants to bring accountability to his role on Calgary city council, if elected.
“I’m campaigning to create change, to invest and provide financial accountability for the voters of ward three,” he said.
“I want to improve the quality of life, invest in people and I have a passion to serve.”