Augustana student recently announced his candidacy for Ward 4 Councillor
A familiar face at Augustana is seeking public office in the 2017 Edmonton Municipal election. Former Resident Assistant, former Augustana Students Association Vice President Academic and political science student Justin Draper is seeking the position of city councillor in Edmonton’s Ward 4.
Draper said he was motivated to run for office because he always saw himself being in politics.
“I always thought of that as an end goal. Once I reached a certain point in my life, once I owned a business or once I went through law school, once I went through the steps that it takes to be a politician then I could be a politician,” said Draper.
Draper also said that “the youth voice in politics has started to be represented in the provincial government but it is still not present in municipal government, so I feel like I can bring that voice to municipal government.”
Having played many roles in the Augustana community throughout his degree, Draper said Augustana influenced his decision to run for office.
“The most influential role for me, as a student leader and when deciding to run for city council, was when I was elected Vice President Academic of the Augustana Students Association. I took over many of the roles of the president later on that year,” said Draper.
“I got to see the importance of student government and I got to see the impact that student voices can have and how important those student voices were,” said Draper.
Draper said Augustana prepared him for the challenge of being a candidate because it offers a liberal arts based interdisciplinary education.
“I can look at an issue and see it from multiple perspectives and take what I’ve learned at Augustana into account when deciding what to do,” he said.
Being a young candidate brings unique challenges.
According to Statistics Canada, political participation amongst young people has historically been low. In the 2011 federal election, voter turnout between the ages of 18 and 24 was 55 per cent, compared to 73 per cent for voters
of the ages between 45 and 54 years old. In the 2015 federal election, young voter turnout increased to 67 per cent, but it still lagged behind the turnout for voters between the ages of 45 and 54 which was 79 per cent.
University of Alberta graduate and former Edmonton municipal by-election candidate Nicole Szymanowka is no s
tranger to the challenge of running as a young candidate. “There were many factors that weighed in on my decision to run for office. First and foremost was my love for Edmonton,” said Szymanowka.
Szymanowka then mentioned the need for our [millennial] generation to have a voice in city hall and her desire to get young people out to vote in municipal elections were reasons to run.
Having been a candidate already, Szymanowka commented that she faced challenges based on her age.
“I did have a few negative experiences where people believed I did not have the life experience necessary to take on a role as city councillor”.
However, Szymanowka described her experience as positive and described the community as very welcoming to a young candidate.
Draper has had a similar experience. “A lot of people when they look at a younger candidate, they assume—sometimes rightfully so—a lack of experience, and experience is an important aspect of political life,” said Draper.
Draper said that a lot of times people won’t look at the merits of younger candidates and their policy “because they just assume that they don’t have the experience to know what they’re talking about.”
“I have as much experience being a city councillor as anybody else who has never been a city councillor. Nobody has experience being a city councillor until they’re elected.”