Guiscela Perez Arellano
Guiscela Perez Arellano
Candidate for Ward 9 (pihêsiwin)
My name is Guiscela Perez Arellano, and I am 33 years old. I am originally from Durango, Mexico, located just two hours inland from Mazatlan. Durango is not one of the biggest cities in Mexico and probably not a touristic one either. Still, it has amazing landscapes as it is just beside the "Sierra Madre", which is the Mexican part of the Rocky Mountains.
My father, mother, and brother live in Mexico; they have each pursued a career in architecture.
In 2004, I was an exchange student with Rotary International and had the opportunity to travel abroad to discover a whole new world in Europe, especially in Germany. I met people from all around the world, and some of them are still my closest friends after 15 years. In 2008, I returned to Europe, to Paris, France and worked as an Au-pair.
I studied Public Relations in Guadalajara, Mexico. I like fashion, as well as event management. I have a certificate as an Image Consultant and while studying, I decided to run for student council and was elected as Vice President for a two-year term.
After graduating with a degree in Public Relations, I returned to Durango and taught Public Relations, German, English, and French for 2 years. In December 2012, I arrived in Canada. I began my career as a nanny with some incredible families. Once I received my permanent residence, I start working in IT.
In May 2019, I proudly became a Canadian Citizen. Moving to Canada and leaving everything behind has not been easy. I come from a country that lacks opportunities. Living abroad has given me a global perspective on important human rights issues. Being a Canadian and living in Edmonton will truly provide me with opportunities to truly make a difference.
All of this has made me realize how important it is to give back to our community in different ways.
Question 1: What work experience do you have that’s relevant to the role of a Councillor and how do you feel the skills and perspective you have gained will help you in your role as a Councillor?
I am a young woman who speaks four languages: (Spanish as my first language, English, German and French) I have Public Relations degree, and I'm working towards my Education degree I am service oriented and I want to see a world that is equitable for all. I am an immigrant who chose to live in Edmonton. It is a great city and I am keen and prepared to My experience with Rotary has offered me a global perspective and a unique lens to better understand the challenges each community and citizen faces each and every day I am a good listener, empathic, and respectful of diverse perspectives; this allows me the ability to truly represent all voices at the city council
Question 2: What do you think are the biggest issues affecting your ward are, and how would you approach being their local representative?
I feel the passion that Edmontonians have for our City. I am so thankful that they are so willing to share with me. Here is what I'm hearing: Currently, not everyone in our Ward Pihêsiwin ᐱᐦᐁᓯᐏᐣ feels included or reflected in our local municipal government. This is because of race, economic standing, culture, sexual orientation, religion, and even age. Residents don’t see themselves in the City’s decision-making processes, policies, programs, and services. There are challenges with the level of services that we receive. Often road maintenance and snow clearance are lacking. We also find that our parks have overflowing garbage bins with dog waste. City services are important to the residents of Ward Pihêsiwin ᐱᐦᐁᓯᐏᐣ, not just for aesthetic reasons, but for our health and safety. Being in an outer-ward, poverty, abuse, and addiction are often hidden behind closed doors, but it exists none-the less. Residents want to help neighbours who are struggling, want appropriate services in place to provide support. The Edmonton transit bussing system has just undergone some major changes that have made it really difficult and inefficient for many of us to commute to work, run errands, and attend appointments within and outside of Ward Pihêsiwin. Residents want the City to revisit and revamp the changes that have been made, while actually engaging the actual users in our Ward.
Question 3: What do you think is the role of a municipal government? Do you think the City does too many things, not enough, or just the right amount?
The role of municipal government is to provide services, infrastructure (construction and maintenance), utilities, and support to citizens. I think the City does the right amount and there is always room for improvement.
Question 4: Do you think property taxes are too high, too low, or just about right?
I think taxes are inline with the services that the City provides.
Question 5: Over the next four years, should the City spend less in absolute terms, increase spending but by less than the rate of inflation and population growth, increase by the rate of inflation and population growth, or increase faster than the rate of inflation and population growth?
The City's spending should align with inflation, population growth, and the needs of the day/year (which is continually changing - we couldn't have predicted COVID19).
Question 6: During the introduction of City Charters a few years ago there was a lot of debate about new taxation powers for the big cities. Would you support the City being given any additional taxation powers by the Province? If so, what taxation powers should the City have?
The City is in a position where it is receiving less and less from the provincial and federal governments. Additional taxation powers could assist the city in finding new areas for revenue. I cannot say what any of those would be at this point, however I am committed to evaluating any new proposals while understanding and prioritizing the voices and concerns of all Edmontonians.
Question 7: The City often claims that they’ve found savings in various budgets, but instead of actually cutting spending, they just put the savings into a reserve account and then spend that money on other things. If there’s money left over at the end of a financial year, do you think that money should be saved up by the City to spend in future years? Or should it be returned automatically to taxpayers the following year through some kind of rebate?
I think the City should be able to use reserves to pay for future projects and capital costs.
Question 8: Everyone says they support affordable housing, but what does that term mean for you? Do you think the City should be subsidizing housing for lower-income residents? Or focused on keeping the cost of all housing from getting out of control? Or perhaps some combination of the two? If so, how?
A multi-faceted approach is required for housing, from subsidization for lower income residents, to enabling the right types of housing supply, to ensuring that foreign investment and speculation isn't artificially inflating local markets. This requires action at all levels of government, City, provincial, and federal.
Question 9: The new Edmonton City Plan focuses on urban development, promoting more density, more transit, and 15-minute communities, but it also restricts new housing development in the outskirts of the City. Are you concerned that this could affect housing affordability in the long-run?
Affordability for housing is more complicated than greenfield versus infill. There is a price that new homeowners pay initially for a new home and then there is taxation in the long-run. Greenfield infrastructure costs are initially bourn by the home buyer on those lands - it's calculated into the house/lot price. But, over the long-term, all Edmontonians foot the bill for the inefficient and often disconnected infrastructure that is used on the outskirts of the City.
Question 10: What do you think should be the split between greenfield and established community growth for new housing? Should the City have a specific target? Should this be determined by market demand?
The City Plan sets out outcomes, intentions, and directions. To be successful it will need a combination of stakeholder involvement and buy-in, ideal economic conditions, and homeowner demand for the different types of development, greenfield and infill. I believe a variety of housing types are needed to support homeowner needs and demands. I also believe that it should be a balance, not one housing type should dominate the entire City - that would make for a really boring place to live. In order for the City Plan and other Edmonton initiatives to be successful, housing variety will be key. I would like to see more green buildings and climate change resilient housing in Edmonton.
Question 11: Oil and gas has been a core part of Edmonton’s economy for a long time, indeed Leduc No. 1 is just a few minutes away, but Council is now actively promoting alternative energy sources. Do you think Council should be working to diversify the economy away from oil and gas and what would that look like?
Yes. I believe we need to focus on renewables and new technologies. We need to focus on re-training programs and innovation incentives for local businesses.
Question 12: The Valley Line SE LRT has suffered multiple significant delays during its construction. What is your understanding of the reason for these delays, and what would you have done differently to avoid them?
Construction often runs into barriers and delays that are often out of anyone’s control: weather, materials, labour, environmental challenges, and other. It is often a combination of factors. Often when large capitol projects are undertaken, there are incentives and/or penalties for contractors to complete projects on schedule and on budget. With this specific project, it would be important for me to ask questions to better understand the delays and then work together to find solutions.
Question 13: The City has big plans to build multiple future LRT extensions, including the Valley Line West, the Metro Line Northwest, and the Capital Line South. Do you support further LRT expansion in the City or are there better ways to support transportation in the city? If, as a Councillor, you find out that - despite all the previous assurances from the City - there has in fact been another delay or cost overrun for a future LRT line, or for some other major capital project, what would you do?
Accessible transit is very important for all citizens in Edmonton. Delaying other expansions of our transit system could potentially create challenges for those who rely on this mode of transportation. Looking at all factors in regard to existing projects, the need for planned and future projects, budgets, and other key factors will be important in making final decisions as to move ahead or delay large capital projects.
Question 14: What do you think is the best approach to attract businesses to Edmonton? Direct incentives to specific businesses, paid for by slightly higher taxes, or lower tax rates for all businesses?
Lower tax rates are great, but it's going to take a lot more to attract new business to Edmonton. It may require direct incentives. It also requires a City that is business-friendly in terms of permitting, a place where there is a great quality of life, good health care, and the ability to grow.
Question 15: Should the City be in the business of operating golf courses, or should they privatize or sell them off? How about garbage collection - half of which is already private - or other services?
I believe the City should be in the business of providing some services that increase revenues, in order to balance the services that do not. As for the privatization of garbage collection, I would need to review the proposal and weigh out the pros and cons for the City and all Edmontonians.
Question 16: Should we defund the police? If yes, what exactly does defunding the police mean to you? If not, what should the City do to address both historical and ongoing injustices?
I believe there needs to be a balance. Police need more mental health and cultural resources; from training, to diversification of the force, to experts who accompany them on calls.
Question 17: Do you support the City’s mandatory vaccination policy for City employees?
Question 18: Council recently dropped residential speed limits to 40km/h, do you agree with that decision, and what do you think about the proposal by some to go further and drop it to 30km/h in the future?
I agree with 40 km. To move to 30 km/h, I would need to understand the proposal.
Question 19: Serving as a Councillor you are responsible to btoh your local constituents and every Edmontonian. How would you deal with a situation where you feel that the best interests of your local constituents in your ward conflict with what you feel is the best interests of the City as a whole?
The scenarios are endless where this might occur; the interests of constituents versus the needs of the entire City. I would need to weigh each scenario on a case-by-case basis. In some scenarios, based on the needs of Ward Pihêsiwin, I will fight to the very end. But in other scenarios, the needs of the entire City might need to come first.
Question 20: While the concept of a secret ballot is essential, many of our supporters have told us that they’d like to know the political alignment of their candidates. So, if - and only if - you feel comfortable saying so, who are you voting for in your local ward race and why, and if you are affiliated with any provincial or federal political parties, which ones and why?
I believe the most important thing is to each of us do our research and ask questions to all candidates. That being said, I believe Amarjeet Sohi aligns the most with my platform. I am not affiliated with any provincial or federal parties