Meet the councillors: Sarah Hamilton and Michael Janz look forward to team-building

· The Pulse
By Karen Unland
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Sarah Hamilton and Michael Janz might not seem to have a lot in common. Hamilton represents the largely suburban west-end ward of sipiwiyiniwak, while Janz was elected in the south-central ward of papastew. They disagreed on 20 of the 30 questions put to candidates in the Taproot Survey. She's one of the few incumbents returning to council; he's among the large class of rookies.

But they have common ground, too. Both have new babies at home, born during the election campaign. And they both told Episode 155 of Speaking Municipally that they see their role on council as helping other councillors succeed, while still pursuing their own agendas.

"I had a very ambitious, multi-faceted platform, but it's useless if you cannot find champions to work with you," Janz said in his meet-the-councillor interview on Taproot's civic affairs podcast. "So I see my job as not necessarily scoring goals, but to help get assists by helping others get goals."

Hamilton said she too sees a responsibility to help others be good stewards of the city, especially with eight newcomers among the 12 councillors. She cited, for example, the need to back up Anne Stevenson, the new councillor for O-day-min, in efforts to revitalize downtown, which is key to the whole city's prosperity.

"We lost a lot of institutional knowledge on city council," Hamilton said. "I looked around after the election and thought, 'Oh wow, there's going to be a lot of things that folks won't have backgrounds on.'"

Hamilton also spoke to the podcast about an issue she was involved in throughout her first term in council — Wolf Willow residents' concerns about traffic and parking issues near a trailhead into the river valley that leads to the Fort Edmonton footbridge.

Councillors Michael Janz and Sarah Hamilton take the oath of office

Councillors Michael Janz and Sarah Hamilton take the oath of office at City Hall on Oct. 26, 2021. (Mack Male/Flickr)

After 10 years of complaints, people living along the crescent successfully petitioned for residents-only parking restrictions near the stairs, which has angered others in the neighbourhood, as well as Edmontonians concerned about west-end access to the river valley.

"The city has this issue not just in this neighbourhood but across Edmonton," Hamilton said. "It's starting to challenge our ability to go into neighbourhoods with amenities, whether it's river valley access, whether it's LRT, whether it's attractions or festivals. That is because neighbourhoods dread situations like this.

"I don't know if this (parking restriction) is the end solution, but I think we have to figure out from a public policy perspective how we're going to support neighbourhoods, because I don't want to lose buy-in for things like that."

Janz said that while he wants to be a team-builder, it's also important to him to make progress on issues such as climate action and transit accessibility. Hamilton noted that this council is very progressive, but it's going to have more success if it can also sell those ideas to Edmontonians whose values may be more conservative.

"We're stronger if we can bring people along with us and if they share that as a priority in their life," she said. "And (if) they know that it's not either-or; it can be an and."

Episode 155 of Speaking Municipally also takes a look at council's decision to indefinitely extend the mask bylaw, as well as the decision to approve a sole-source advertising agreement with Postmedia for up to $3 million over three years.