Meet the councillors: Keren Tang and Ashley Salvador identify key priorities as they begin their terms

Edmonton's new city council has been sworn in and as they get to work over the next couple weeks, Taproot's civic affairs podcast is presenting a series of short interviews with each councillor to introduce you to who they are and what they want to focus on during their first year in office.

The first such segment in Episode 153 of Speaking Municipally introduces Keren Tang, councillor for Karhiio, and Ashley Salvador, councillor for Métis.

Tang has worked in public health, health promotion, and urban wellness. She is aiming to bring that lens to the council table.

"Part of the big reason why I ran back in 2017 and again in 2021 is because I wanted to be a stronger, more effective bridge between people and the decisions made at the table," she said.

Tang conducted a series of virtual conversations in the lead-up to her run for council, which helped her identify the main pillars of her platform. When asked by Speaking Municipally hosts Mack Male and Troy Pavlek which issue she will focus on as she establishes herself as a councillor, Tang said mobility and transit were consistently identified by her constituents as priorities.

"When I talk about putting the people back in decision-making, what I really mean by that is we have to think about people's stories. The bus network redesign, the LRT... the negative impact disproportionately affected seniors," she explained.

Keren Tang and Ashley Salvador take the oath at City Hall

Keren Tang, councillor for Karhiio, and Ashley Salvador, councillor for Métis, are sworn in on Oct. 26, 2021. (Mack Male/Flickr)

"I have so many stories about the various routes that seniors have to take now to get from their house to the mall, which is where they enjoy their quality of life and that's where they find their daily rhythm."

Tang also referenced newcomers, lower-income families, and students who are bused into mature neighbourhoods to attend school.

"These are folks who don't have a car... who have issues with mobility," Tang said. "I just want to be able to continuously bring those voices forward, those experiences forward."

Urban planner Salvador also aims to give her constituents a platform, having worked with the previous city council as an advocate. Salvador is the founder of YEGarden Suites, a non-profit devoted to helping homeowners through the process of building backyard homes.

She told Speaking Municipally that the one big issue she wants to focus on is the City Plan.

"Building an inclusive and compassionate city is incredibly important to me," she said. For Salvador, that means investing in permanent supportive housing to ensure the city's vulnerable and marginalized city residents are taken care of; growing a city that is sustainable and climate-resilient; and following through on the plan to develop 15-minute neighbourhoods.

"That's going to require that we have conversations about how we can densify our neighbourhoods, how we can introduce more mixed use, how we can have functional and viable public and active transit so people can get around in ways that work for them," she said.

"I'm very much a holistic thinker. I've worked with seniors, multiculturalism, economic development... so it's really about bringing all those things together and serving with that holistic capacity."

Meet Edmonton's other city councillors in upcoming episodes of Speaking Municipally. And refresh your memory on how they answered the Taproot Survey on a variety of city issues.

The podcast also takes a look at some surprise resignations, which election predictions came true, and what's going on with a couple of bridges.