Student runs for city councillor

On May 17, Wilfrid Laurier University student Erin Epp announced her bid for Waterloo city council. The declaration made Epp, a third-year political science student, the first official candidate for Uptown Ward 7 and the youngest to enter the municipal race to date.

At her Monday evening launch event, Epp gave a taste of what is to be expected as she hits the campaign trail for the pending fall election. Based on the premise of “community, consultation and participation,” Epp explained that her campaign will focus on “bringing forward the ideas of Waterloo’s citizens.”

Continuing this theme, the evening featured an interactive group session in which the audience was asked to envision their ideal Waterloo 15 years into the future. Such visioning sessions will be a weekly staple throughout Epp’s campaign. It is through these forums, she explained, and the input of community members, that she will determine and finalize her platform.
Nonetheless, Epp noted a few of the key issues she hopes to bring to the city’s council. Epp highlighted environmental sustainability, community engagement, ensuring a livable and accessible community for all residents and the promotion of Uptown Waterloo’s local businesses as areas she plans to address.

At the same time, however, Epp promised that a concrete platform will only be decided after much input from area residents.
Although a university student, first and foremost Epp considers herself a member of the Waterloo community and believes that students entering local politics need to have a strong grasp of broader community issues.

She explained her interest in city politics as a “natural progression” of her involvement in the city over past years.

In recent years, Epp has served as a member of the planning committee for the 2010 Community Action Forum, and as the facilitator of community exchange dialogues with both the Social Planning Council and Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research Group (LSPIRG).

As for the post of city councillor in particular, Epp said, “I see a really valuable opportunity to engage the community in a new way, to really hear what people want from a councillor and to deliver that.”
On the topic of university students, Epp explained that “student issues are community issues.”

Moreover, she expressed concern over the fact that “there is too much segregation between the community and students.”

According to Epp, “We have to treat student issues as if they are as important as community issues.”

While Ward 7 encompasses the Wilfrid Laurier University campus, only those living east and south of University Avenue West, excluding Seagram Drive and Lester Street, and West of Weber Street North and South, are members of this district.

Councillor Ian McLean is the current representative of Ward 7 residents.

While Epp’s bid remains the sole declaration for Ward 7, the nomination process will continue through to Sept. 9.

Waterloo’s municipal Election Day is scheduled for Oct. 25, 2010.