Monique Auffrey said now is the perfect time to take her 25 years serving Calgary as a social worker and 12 years as a non-profit CEO to the next challenge.
Auffrey said she’s accumulated vast experience in navigating the challenging waters of operating a non-profit and that knowledge of tight budgets and service delivery translates well to a city government.
“I think at this stage of my career, I’m able to share a depth of knowledge and expertise. So, I’m excited about that,” Auffrey told LiveWire Calgary.
Running for city council in Ward 8 is something she’s wanted to do for a long time. Balancing the demands of being a wife, mom and professional put that on hold.
Auffrey lost her husband in 2018. Her daughter is now 19.
“I’m 50-years-old, I’m an empty nester and the demands on me personally are not what they were five years ago,” Auffrey said.
“Through love and loss and community service, I find myself at a unique inflection point in my life.”
The ‘a-ha’ moment for her was the realization that after leading boards and serving members in the non-profit sector, she could do that as the representative in Ward 8.
Health and wellness a top issue
Auffrey said that physical and mental health is top of mind for Calgarians. Now 20 months into a pandemic, Auffrey said it’s taking a major toll on citizens.
“Addiction, other types of mental health issues, whether it be violence, domestic violence, have been on the rise for a long time in Calgary,” she said.
“They’re now coming to the surface in different ways due to COVID.”
She said a number one issue should be getting Calgarians well and have them nurture one another back to being thriving, contributing members of the city.
Auffrey also said that jobs and the economy are important to Calgarians right now. She said that’s a complex conversation that involves revitalizing the downtown, attracting new industry and retaining our youth.
She said she’s also been raising the issue of crime prevention across the city.
At the ward level, Auffrey said community consultation is a big issue among voters. It’s particularly around development and transportation issues, she said.
“Those two things come up often where residents feel that they would want to be a part of a conversation that could see… compromise might be one way of labeling it,” she said.
“But at least being involved in proactively looking at solutions that can best serve people.”
‘The Green Line is vital’
Auffrey said Calgarians could continue to debate the cost of the Green Line.
“We need to get shovels in the ground, and we need to move forward,” she said.
Big infrastructure projects always require a re-examination or reassessment along the way as they take shape, Auffrey said.
Moving forward, the ward 8 candidate said she thinks most Calgarians would like to see the Green Line built as far north and south as funding will allow.
“It makes the city more viable from that perspective,” Auffrey said.
On the Events Centre, Auffrey said most Calgarians just want a fair deal. She supports the Events Centre and the jobs and economic boost that it will bring with it.
“I think the controversy really comes when Calgarians feel that they are unfairly impacted by way of their taxes to support the enterprise,” she said.
Established area development
Land in Ward 8 is a hot commodity for developers, Auffrey said. She said many of the ward’s communities are meeting or exceeding density targets the city has put forth.
“Community members feel that their neighbourhoods are becoming overly densified, and there are issues around that,” she said.
As a social worker who has worked in housing, Auffrey believes in affordability and mixed housing in different neighbourhoods. She said not only do we need to improve housing availability, but social supports need to be there as well.
“I believe the residents of Ward 8 feel that there’s an unfair advantage to some developers over residents, and that that is part of what makes people feel uncomfortable,” she said.
Auffrey said she understands there’s an environmental and budgetary impact to building outward. She wants to ensure that developers are made to pay their share through the levies and that they’re being monitored.
Police funding / fluoride
Reallocating police budget funds does nothing to address systemic racism within the police service, Auffrey said.
“I think if the premise is to police differently, to police effectively, and to make sure that people’s mental health and well-being is being protected by those who know best, how to do the community service support, those are very different discussions,” she said.
The issue is close to her. She’s been a part of the Alberta family violence review committee. She also works in domestic violence situations.
She said we really need to be clear about addressing systemic racism.
“If we believe systemic racism exists disproportionately within the police department over any other system in our city… I think we need to say that and to discuss how reallocations are actually addressing racism,” she said.
On fluoride, Auffrey supports the reintroduction of it into Calgary’s water supply. In her time working with the Alex Health dental bus, she’s seen how it disproportionately affects children and families living in poverty.
She said the latest scientific evidence shows it’s safe, but she also recognizes and respects other Calgarians’ desire for it not to be added.
Auffrey said she’s a voice Calgarians can trust to make sound decisions. She’s been in the business of serving people for 25 years.
“This is what I do. Serving people is my profession,” she said.