Mira Lewis hopes to bring new perspective to Ward 4

Submitted photo

Mira Lewis is used to representing people. Now, she’s hoping to do so at the city council table.

Lewis is the latest nominee to officially enter the city council race, filing her papers for Ward 4.

Lewis is hoping to take a closer look at the city’s books, to encourage the city to work for and communicate better with the people and to work proactively to fight poverty and crime.

Lewis works as a CUPE representative — a staff member, not an elected official — tasked with working for a health care local made up of thousands of workers.

“I represent people for a living,” Lewis said, “So I’m familiar with representing large numbers of people.”

Lewis said instead of just complaining about governments and what they do at every level, it was time to try to make a difference.

One of the biggest problems facing the city, she said, is poverty “and all the things that come with it, such as crime and unemployment.”

She cited Prince Albert’s ranking in the crime severity index, routinely coming in the top ten as one of the Canadian cities with the most severe crime indices.

“If you look at all the research, it’s poverty that drives people to crime,” Lewis said.

“That’s certainly an issue in Prince Albert. It’s an issue that’s been here for a long time, and I don’t believe civic governments have ignored the issue, but what has been done hasn’t worked.”

Lewis said she would like to see the city work more closely with groups such as the West Flat Citizens Group and Str8 Up, who are working to fight poverty and gang violence.

“Those are the kind of community groups civic government should be partnering with, should be finding out what they need, or what the city can do to make their work more successful,” Lewis said.

Crime and poverty aren’t a single-neighbourhood problem, she added. The effects are spreading across the city.

“I’ve been going around, talking to people a little bit and one of the things that people have said is that they used to leave their doors unlocked here, and now they can’t,” she said.

“One of the people I had talked to had her car broken into the day before I knocked on her door, which was unheard of in Ward 4. People are saying they feel less safe than they used to.”

Lewis said some groups are already receiving federal and provincial support for the work they do in the city, and that they should receive formal city support a well.

“The city doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel,” she said. “There is a lot of work being done on this.”

While crime and poverty may be a pressing issue, it’s not the only thing Lewis wants to tackle at City Hall. She wants to improve transparency for residents and she wants to dig into the books to see if there’s a more affordable way to do things.

She said looking through the city’s public books, there were contracts for things like electrical work and other tradesmen above what the city already employs. She suggested that, in the long run, it might be cheaper to hire more workers and keep jobs in-house rather than contracting them outside of the city to larger firms.

“O e of the things the city has to look at is spending. Budgets need to be tightened,” she said.

She mused that the city might be doing things one way because that’s how it’s always been done, rather than exploring other options.

Lewis will be going up against Don Cody, who was first elected to office as an NDP MLA before moving to municipal politics and becoming mayor of Prince Albert in 1993. He is the incumbent candidate for Ward 4’s council seat.

Lewis said she represents a new approach at council that puts people first. She cited a lack of consultation with 12th Street residents whose trees were cut down during a street widening project and concerns raised by some about a lack of information about other possible locations for the new recreation and aquatic centre as two examples of times city hall didn’t “reach out to people sufficiently.

“I have new and fresh ideas,” Lewis said.

“I am good at representing people. I believe the pyramid has been turned on its head, and not just for Prince Albert. I see this everywhere. The people should be driving government, and I don’t see that happening.”

For more information on Lewis, visit miralewisward4.com. The city election is set for Nov. 9.