A St. Albert woman became the youngest female to run for council in the city's history with her announcement this week.
Aisling Pollard-Kientzel, 25, made the decision to run after asking Mayor Nolan Crouse if she could work on his campaign. During those discussions the idea of making her own political mark was raised, and she decided the time was right.
"I really enjoy the idea of working for the people," she said. "I'm a big fan of democracy and the democratic process."
Pollard-Kientzel grew up in St. Albert, but spent five years of her childhood living in the Dominican Republic with her mother, a lawyer, and her stepfather, a missionary. Her father, an architectural technician, remained in St. Albert where she later returned.
She graduated high school at the age of 16 and attended the University of Alberta, where she majored in political science. Pollard-Kientzel moved to Prague, Czech Republic, to earn her masters degree at Charles University and worked briefly for the local municipal government.
Although well travelled, Pollard-Kientzel said St. Albert has always been home, and she often talked about events and politics back home with her parents. Her connection with St. Albert is what makes her a good candidate for council, she said.
"It really makes you miss home, and this is home to me. I spend more time in town here than anywhere else."
Although she is still working on the details of her platform, one of Pollard-Kientzel's major concerns is lack of engagement with youth. Many teens can feel isolated if they're not part of an athletics group. As a result, she feels many young people in St. Albert do not have a lot to keep them occupied, something she wants to change.
"I would like to see them get on track because of the issues with vandalism and underage drinking," she said. "I don't think they've been looked at enough. That's my focus."
With her own life experiences, she believes she can serve as a role model for younger generations and hopes to speak with high school students in the fall.
Pollard-Kientzel also wants to see the city develop its artistic side. St. Albert is part of a rising art movement in the province, she said, and believes in enhancing connections with local arts groups. She would like to see the city host more art walks and exhibitions, especially in the downtown.
"I really want to take up where people have left off," she said. "We have a lot of really talented artists, right here in St. Albert."
Pollard-Kientzel said she plans to run a grassrooots campaign with help from friends from university. She plans to use a website and social media tools like Facebook and Twitter to get her message out, and she will do as much door to door campaigning as possible. That dialogue with St. Albertans will help her learn what issues really do affect residents.
"I'm in this to win," she said.
Pollard-Kientzel is the 10th candidate to announce her candidacy for council. The civic election is on Oct. 18.