Evan Spencer is running for the next Alderman in District 12 of Calgary. POST
A year ago, Evan Spencer didn’t even have politics on his radar.
He is a self-described “longtime community servant” who has been volunteering in his mahogany neighborhood for years. Now he runs to Ward 12.
“When I moved here to Mahogany, I was really focused on living a life that was somehow connected, getting everything I could and giving back to the place I wanted to raise my family. Said Spencer.
His work in the community put him in contact with local leaders such as the current Coun. Shane Keating and former MLA Rick Fraser. Spencer worked on project assignments and grants, and worked with others to help build southeastern churches.
Spencer said he was at a crossroads 12 months ago, at a time when Coun. Keating had an opening in his office.
“I would have viewed politics, much like the rest of my family, with some suspicion,” said Spencer.
“This is kind of a greasy place that you avoid if you can.”
But the church work had created a desire to make his neighborhood even better. Working with the region’s political offices, he quickly recognized the role governance plays in this work.
He took the job on Keating’s team.
Keating announced his resignation earlier this year.
Looking for the right candidate… maybe it’s me?
Spencer did a bit of work on Steven Phan’s campaign this year and was part of a group that encouraged Rick Fraser to walk in Ward 12. Fraser decided off a run in this year’s campaign and that left Spencer a different decision.
He had listened to people all over the church and there was some interest in the current candidate. Even so, Spencer heard a lot of “buts”.
The decision time came.
“This is definitely going to be one of those moments in life that I’ll repeat around the campfire and other places because all of these things were lined up,” said Spencer.
“If I don’t do that, I’ll probably kick myself. So I took the plunge. “
The Calgarian raised and raised in North Central Calgary served as a pastor for 10 years. He realized that he didn’t want to do this in the long term.
Spencer then got involved in his homeowner’s association and then founded Abundant Community – Copperfield Mahogany. This is a group that inspires neighbors to work together for a better community.
He said on the campaign path that he would speak on high level issues like budget and politics. But his campaign goes back to those softer community touches.
“When it comes down to it, I’m a community organizer,” said Spencer.
“I want to stand up for people’s voices and help them be part of their own solutions and their own neighborhood.”
We against them
While Spencer said the Green Line and other mobility issues are at the fore in Ward 12, one of the pressing issues that come to mind is culture.
“There are certain types of politics that are popular and that really stir us up against them. It’s really hard to move forward, ”he said.
Spencer said if you look at your neighbor with suspicion, you have lost the ability to believe that people want to take care of each other.
“Some people might call this naive, I think we have to fight for it. We must fight for the ability to look at the people around us and feel that we can do this together, that we can help each other and create the tomorrow that is important to us all. “
In financial terms, Spencer said the city needs to look into creative ideas around spending. He said Calgarians should have more access to this conversation.
While the city is running the SAVE (Solutions to Achieve Value and Excellence) program with the involvement of administrative and city officials, he wants this to be open to citizens. Spencer said simple things can make a huge difference.
He mentioned a group in his neighborhood that decided to clean the city’s flower beds in the area. They shouldn’t do that, said Spencer, but they did it anyway.
“They took over some property in their own neighborhood and it ends up saving money somewhere on a line item because those city crews have to spend less time there,” he said.
“I think there is a lot we can explore as a city to help residents feel empowered again.”
Green line, event center
With Coun. With Shane Keating a driving force behind the Green Line, Spencer knows the importance of connecting Southeast Calgary.
There is a dream that Seton will be a “new hub” in town, but Spencer said it isn’t there yet.
“We just need to keep focusing on expanding those parts and I think connectivity to the rest of the city is a big part of that. This is definitely something my neighbors are talking about, ”he said.
Spencer also believes that infrastructures like the recently paused event center are important in attracting long-term investments to Calgary.
“It hurts right now to think about spending that money on these parts when we’re doing what we’re doing now, but it will be to our advantage, beneficial in the long run,” he said.
“I believe we need to continue to prioritize some of these projects that bring art and culture to our city and make Calgary a world-class place to live, work and play.”
Police Finance, Speed, and Fluoride
Spencer said the problem of defusing the police had unfortunately become politicized. He supports the Calgary Police Service and the work they have done to reallocate the funds.
“I think what they are doing with the reallocation of these funds is just addressing some of the work that the police never intended but resumed along the way,” he said.
He believes the urban speed limit debate is common sense. It’s “low hanging fruit” for candidates looking to stir up a storm, Spencer said. When you look at the data, there is overwhelming support for why the city should go in that direction.
As for fluoride, Spencer admits he hasn’t looked through the data yet. He said he tended to leave things but didn’t form a strong opinion about it.
Whatever the problem, Spencer said Ward 12 residents will have someone to listen to their voices. It is the work he has done in his community for the past six years and will continue to do so regardless of the election result.
“It’s not just who I am, it’s built into my DNA. So you (Ward 12 residents) don’t have to force it on me, ”he said.
“I’ve lived a life of integrity and I am a servant through and through, and I don’t mean to stop.”