News / Edmonton

Almost one third of candidates running for Edmonton city council in October are women

But one advocate says we can still do better

Bev Esslinger with her grandson standing in line to register for the 2017 municipal election.

Kashmala Fida / Metro

Bev Esslinger with her grandson standing in line to register for the 2017 municipal election.

There will be way more women on the ballot for Edmonton's municipal election next month, compared to the last election in 2013.

There are 24 women running for mayor and city council, out of a total of 84 candidates.

That means roughly 29 per cent the field are women, up from 17 per cent last time.

“The number is pretty good, but we could do better,” said Lana Cuthbertson, chair of Equal Voice Alberta North, a group that had been aiming to have 50 per cent female candidates in each race.

“We still aim for that at all levels of government," she added.

Cuthbertson did point to areas where women had made in-roads. There are only two council races this time with no women, down from five in 2013. There are also three races where more than half of the candidates are women.

Only one woman, Bev Esslinger, was elected last time, but Mayor Don Iveson said the city has worked to get more diverse candidates. He pointed to mentorship programs like Opening the Potential, which encouraged more women to run.

“I think our efforts around encouraging particularly more women and people from diverse communities to step forward are really paying off," he said.

"This line up today just reflects the diversity of our city."

Equal Voice encouraged Ward 11 candidate Brandy Burdeniuk to run, she said.

“It’s great to see the diversity that’s within the women and the backgrounds that they have, and the careers that they have had before running for council,” she said. “I’m really excited to see so much experience coming from women.”

Kirsten Goa, candidate for Ward 8, said she understands the problems council faces to attract gender balanced nominations.

“If we want more women in council we will have to be supporting strong candidates in incumbent wards not just open wards,” she said.

An additional 21 women are running for school board seats, which historically have been more balanced, out of 48 candidates.

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