Jen Vasic is running to become Ward 5's next city councillor in Waterloo. Jen is a community developer at heart. She loves working with communities to understand and take action to solve problems. Over the past four years, she has been working towards completing her doctorate and is passionate about the connection between poverty and education.
Why did you decide to run?
I am a community developer at heart. I love working with communities to understand and take action to solve problems. Over the past four years, I have been working towards completing my doctorate and I am passionate about my topic. I am researching the connection between poverty and education, and the systemic and institutional barriers that disadvantage youth who live in low-income neighbourhoods in school. Wanting to return to community development work more intensely, as well as translating what I have learned through my academic work about inclusion and intersectionality into practice are the major reasons I have decided to run for city council. In addition, in at least the last three elections a woman-identifying candidate has not run for the city council seat in Ward 5, Waterloo. In future elections, I will actively support increasing representation of candidates even further.
What is your favourite thing to do in your community?
Without a doubt, our family’s after dinner walk (for my partner and I) and bike-ride (for our kid) to local parks or food trucks. I love spending time with my family, as well as meeting new people, exploring our city's parks and natural landscapes, and supporting local businesses. All at the same time? Even better!
Tell us about the greatest challenges your community faces?
Active transportation is a key issue in our community. We need to make sure it is easy and safe for all residents to get where they need and want to go. This requires a minimum grid biking system, safe sidewalks in all seasons, as well as well-connected public transportation. In addition, growth needs in our city must be balanced with considerations for the environment, universal design, and a thriving arts and culture sector, as a few examples.
What would you do to improve women's health in your community?
I will advocate for protected and connected bike lanes, a strong public transportation system, and useable sidewalks in all seasons so that women and families feel safe and comfortable taking active forms of transportation.
I will also support formal and informal initiatives in the community that connect women and families. One way I am currently doing this is by bringing attention to one of our community’s greatest assets: its people. For example, through my newsletter and on my blog I have shared the story of an in-person and online network of over 50 families one mom in our neighbourhood started. Will continue to highlight our community's strengths.
What would you do to improve women's economic security in your community?
To improve women’s economic security in your community I believe it is important to recognize and support, through policy, the paid and unpaid work women often do to care for others, especially women with lower-incomes and women of colour. This might include parenting, health care for family members, education in order to get a better job to support their families, volunteering, or lower-wage work (e.g., personal support worker, customer service, etc.).
What would you do to improve women's safety in your community?
There are existing organizations that are working hard to improve women’s safety in our community, including, but not limited to the YWCA, Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region, and SHORE Centre. I will continue to support the work these organizations are doing to protect women’s rights and safety by building and growing relationships in person and through social media, sharing information about them, and actively encouraging these organizations to continue their client-based, as well as advocacy work.
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Twitter link: @jenvasic
Facebook link: @jenvasic