Danisha Bhaloo is the right choice for Ward 12

Much has already been said about the large number of candidates running for Council in next week’s Ward 12 by-election. Choosing from 31 names is certainly daunting, but fortunately there are some quality candidates to consider. Irfan Chaudhry has run a solid campaign and would bring a strong focus on diversity and inclusion to Council. I continue to be impressed by Lincoln Ho‘s passion for Edmonton and his thoughtful ideas. Moe Banga would bring solid credentials in addressing crime & safety. But there’s one candidate who I believe stands out as the right choice for Ward 12. And that’s Danisha Bhaloo.

danisha bhaloo

After receiving her BA in Criminology from the University of Alberta, Danisha went on to become Alberta’s youngest Probation Officer. She made the move to the not-for-profit sector shortly thereafter and for the last few years has been the Manager of Fund Development with Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton. BGCBigs is an organization Danisha has a lot of history with. “My teenage years were difficult,” she wrote in 2013, but thankfully her mother enrolled her in the Big Sisters program. Danisha credits the experience with helping her overcome the challenges she was facing at the time.

Danisha’s experience has fueled her committment to improving the lives of Edmonton’s children and families ever since. I first got to know Danisha when she was the President of the Youth Restorative Action Project and Director of the Inner City Children’s Project. I found her to be very driven and compassionate. She has continued to make important community contributions in the years since, joining the Edmonton John Howard Society board, the Edmonton Opera board, and the University of Alberta Senate, among many others. The common thread throughout her work has been a focus on community and ensuring others have the support and opportunities they need to lead happy, healthy lives here in Edmonton.

Along the way, Danisha has earned a number of awards and honors. In 2009 she was chosen to receive the Distinguished Nominee for the Ron Wiebe Restorative Justice Award by Correctional Services of Canada. She was named one of Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 and one of Edmonton’s Sizzling 20 under 30 in 2013. And in 2014 she recieved the Alumni Horizon Award recognizing “the outstanding achievements of University of Alberta alumni early in their careers.” This is just a small snapshot of the recognition she has received.

“My life, both professionally and personally, centers around improving the lives of children and families in our community. That’s what keeps me motivated,” she said in a 2014 interview.

I think Danisha has run a solid campaign. She has heard from residents about the need for crime prevention and community safety and she understands that different parts of the ward experience these issues differently. Danisha is supportive of building LRT and of ensuring that Ward 12 has great connections to the Valley Line. She’d also like to review DATS and has spoken about the important work of the Transit Strategy review that the City is currently conducting. She views the cultural diversity of Ward 12 as an asset and something to be celebrated. She is supportive of the service review that Council has asked for, but understands the need for balance.

I really like Danisha’s position on public engagement and the fact that she has joined one of the working groups as part of the Council Initiative on Public Engagement. “We need to be as diverse in how we connect with Edmontonians to reflect the diversity of Edmontonians themselves,” she wrote in response to my survey on the issue.

Her position on women’s issues is also encouraging. She agrees with many of us who feel that we need more women in leadership positions throughout the city and her approach to achieving that is focused on mentorship and leadership. “I will look for ways to ensure we are asking the tough questions of ourselves for the agencies and boards to which we appoint Edmontonians,” she responded, “where we have opportunities in the City to mentor strong female leaders, and set a good example of leadership on this issue for members and organizations in our community.”

I don’t agree with Danisha on everything. She’s a little more sympathetic to the taxi industry than I am, and I don’t think she’s tough enough on the issue of police spending. But what’s important is that she is able to have a healthy, constructive debate about these and other issues. Danisha is open to new ideas and information, and she’s willing to consider alternative perspectives. These are important skills and attributes that any City Councillor needs to have in order to work collaboratively to get things done for Edmontonians.

danisha bhaloo

It’s true that Danisha does not live in Ward 12. She did grow up in the ward and does still own property there, however. I asked Danisha about this and her position was that the ward is very diverse, so living in one neighbourhood doesn’t mean you automatically understand the needs and challenges of the others. Whether you live in the ward or not, you’re going to have to work hard to represent your constituents effectively. My preference is definitely for a Councillor to live in the ward that he or she represents, but it’s not a deal-breaker for me. What’s more important is, can they do the job and are they willing to put in the work? I think the answer for Danisha is a clear yes.

I believe Danisha is in this race for the right reasons. She’s running to contribute to her community and to help move Edmonton forward. The reason that Danisha was first to announce her candidacy was because this is not a decision she made on a whim. This is not just a stepping stone for her. This is a logical step forward in a career built on public service.

I do think increasing the cultural and gender diversity of City Council would be a good thing, but I don’t believe we should accept candidates less suited to the role just to achieve that. Fortunately with Danisha, that’s not an issue.

Amarjeet Sohi represented Ward 12 very effectively during his time on Council. He brought important leadership and perspective to the table, both for his constituents and for all Edmontonians. No candidate should seek to fill his shoes, but should instead bring their own ideas, strengths, and abilities to the table. I know that Danisha will do all of that and that Ward 12 residents would be very well represented if they chose her as their Councillor. I also know that like Amarjeet Sohi, Danisha will consider the bigger picture in serving as a member of City Council.

If I were voting in Monday’s election, I’d be voting for Danisha Bhaloo.

  • Anyone else

    An endorsement from someone who can’t vote in the election for someone who can’t vote in the election.

  • NHL Fan

    If it wasn’t a decision made on a whim, why doesn’t she just wait and run in her OWN ward in 2017? She could have also been the first to announce her intention to run in that ward.

    Why has she not served on ANY civic committees or boards? Sounds like a decision made on a whim to me.

    How many council meetings has she observed? Other than Uber and the LRT does she know what council is debating and voting on? How many times have we heard her say that she isn’t privy to what council is debating and discussing? It is public. This proves that she really hasn’t observed any.

    I don’t see any of these questions being asked. Just a lot of fluff pieces like these. By not asking tough questions, you really aren’t helping the people of ward 12 make a decision.

  • Nav

    You provide a good retrospective of her background but don’t really tie it in to the relevant skills and experience required for council, and that’s probably because she doesn’t have any.

    I am sure Danisha is a really fantastic human being but nothing you say above makes her better than the other candidates. In some cases, particularly with respect to education and work experience, your claim is contradictory. There are better educated and qualified candidates.

    Let’s also not forget that someone who doesn’t live in the ward also doesn’t use the services, doesn’t walk the streets, and doesn’t know the ward 12 residents. She is not their neighbor. Someone who doesn’t live in the ward doesn’t feel the threat of rising crime, or the annoyance of poor infrastructure and transit.

    Cheers.

    • Nick

      I disagree with your points Nav. To say that she does not have any relevant skills or experience required for council is your opinion. I’d like to point out that Amarjeet Sohi was a bus driver before being elected. She has a long history of community service, including working with youth and with disadvantaged citizens. She has worked in the Justice System. She is responsible for raising large amounts of money for a non profit.

      I don’t see a problem with the fact that she doesn’t live in the Ward. There are other Councillors currently sitting on council who do not live in the wards that they were elected in. City Councillors are asked to vote on issues that affect all Edmontonians. When Councillors are sworn in they swear to represent all citizens of Edmonton not just the citizens of the ward. I would prefer to have the best person available elected than the second best just because one lives in the ward and one does not.

      It is very clear to me as a resident of Ward 12 that Danisha is the best choice.

      • Amelia

        Clearly Danisha wrote this response as the only thing she does well is self-promotion. She lives at home with her mom and tweets from her bedroom. That’s about the only thing she is capable of.

    • In defense for candidates who don’t live in the Ward, particularly those who live in Ward 11, here’s my perspective as a candidate running.

      Yes, I do live in Ward 12, however I’m not opposed to people from other wards running in my Ward. The city doesn’t function on imaginary lines. Although I live in Ward 12, I receive the majority of my goods and services from Ward 11 (Town Centre, South Edmonton Common, Rec Ctr, spray parks, police stn, etc). I worked several jobs in Ward 6, went to high school and university in Ward 8, and travel through Ward 6,8,10,11, and 12.

      Another candidate Jason Bale, lives on the inner corner where Ward 11 meets Ward 12. He lives closer to the centre of the Ward than pretty much all the candidates who do live in Ward 12.

      To have no say or impact in these wards would be unreasonable at the council level. If a councillor doesn’t currently live in the Ward, if elected I expect them to be willing to move to the Ward or at the very least travel to the Ward daily. While on council, it may be beneficial to have someone living outside the ward to pull double duties to unofficially represent two wards, and bring concerns directly to a colleague.

      • hunkE

        Well said!

  • Amelia

    This article is incredibly biased and I’m pretty sure everyone’s ‘teenage years were pretty difficult.’ This candidate is a complete joke!

    • Nick

      Lol @ Amelia. Of course this article is biased. It’s his opinion! You obviously have nothing intelligent to add to the conversation since all you have posted are personal attacks.

      • Amelia

        Is that you Danisha? How many fake accounts can you make to talk yourself up?

  • panther

    There are 15000 families living in hotels around edmonton, on taxpayers money, just by telling the police that they had a fight with neighbours and they will get killed if they return to their rented apt. And all these familes enjoy their lives. DOES ANY OF THE CANDIDATES KNOW ABOUT THIS ISSUE. just get them out of these hotels.

  • Anon

    Danisha is a candidate who looks good on paper, knows the right people, and has a “the” story, being someone who overcame poverty.

    HOWEVER, I urge you to see beyond this. Her work ethic is poor and if you’ve ever really worked directly with her, you’d know that she performs poorly as a manager. She lacks the “compassion” for those around her and does not have the capacity to think of the progressive ideas that the ward (and the city) needs.

    Her campaign contains all the buzz-words that would make any politician sound good. She’s connected to people who are familiar with running winning campaigns that make her look legitimate. Please look past the pretty signs and vote for someone who actually knows what they’re doing and can better our city.