Why I’m using IserveU: candidates in their own words

Sponsored by IserveU

The following three candidates in Monday’s municipal election have, for different reasons, decided to work with IserveU, an online voting platform where Yellowknifers can log in, share comments and vote on issues at City Hall.

The system is the best of both worlds as it produces a binding result when many people vote on an issue. When they don’t, IserveU’s a tool that lets you tell councillors what you think. In these cases, councillors decide which way to vote, just as they do now.

If you’re thinking of voting for one IserveU candidate, consider voting for all three. The more IserveU councillors there are, the more effective the system will be as more Yellowknifers are likely to engage with it. However, if even one of these candidates is elected, YK would be the first city in North America to put something like this in place.

Marie-Soleil Lacoursiere

Businessperson, negotiator, mother of five

On the current system: “Right now, unless you’re friends with a councillor, you phone them up or a story appears in the media, most people don’t know how they voted on a particular issue,” Marie-Soleil says. “With IserveU, you’re going to see every single time what my position is on an issue before I vote and if it changes throughout the process. If I’m not prepared, I’m going to look ridiculous. People are going to catch me right away.”

In Yellowknife municipal politics, a councillor represents the entire community, “But it’s hard to get a representative response from people on issues. When I heard about IserveU, right away I thought ‘what a great tool’ because it allows people to connect with all different neighbourhoods, backgrounds, people who are relatively new or who have been here forever. It just makes consultation so much easier.”

She also sees the system as a way to avoid the current situation of a vocal minority influencing decisions at City Hall. “A councillor could get 20 calls from people angry about something, but does that mean the city as a whole is really angry about something?” she asks. “I think IserveU really adds that extra layer to consultation.”

She also recognizes the solution to issues facing the City may not align with her personal opinion. “At the end of the day, I could disagree with something personally but still think it’s something the City should pursue,” she says.

Click here for more information about Marie-Soleil’s campaign.

Dane Mason

Strategic analyst and dedicated public servant

Dane started thinking about running for council in 2013 after a water pipe broke and he had trouble contacting council to solve the problem. “I was frustrated that we had a public government that wouldn’t listen to a member of the public,” he says.

When he first heard about IserveU, he was excited the project wanted to broaden the public’s voice in government, saying “IserveU is trying to bring the voices of average Yellowknifers to the table, as well as the wisdom of a wider group.” He also likes the idea of being regularly accountable for decisions rather than only on election day, every three years.

Crowdsourcing new-and-unconsidered solutions is something Dane sees IserveU offering. “Opening up from the best ideas of eight busy people to the best ideas from a much larger sample size, even as a statistical argument, it’s a fact you’re going to get a much greater range of alternatives,” Dane says, comparing the current council system to one in which the IserveU platform discussion develops additional policy and project options.

“Innovative ideas are a big pro of the system,” he says. “Eventually, we’re hoping the system will get beyond simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers and generate discussions that help us identify things we’d never think of.”

As someone who’s handled a lot of the media relations for the non-profit IserveU society, Dane really believes in the idea. He’s even made the concept of public involvement in government the focus for campaign signs encouraging people to poke their head through an opening and take a picture with Dane as he’s “putting you in power.”

Click here for more on Dane’s campaign.

Rommel Silverio

Patient care coordinator, business owner

Rommel had been planning to run in the municipal election and when the IserveU society approached him, he took time to listen and learn more about the idea. He decided this was going to be a very useful tool to get more Yellowknifers engaged with City Hall.

“When I used to work in homecare in Avens I worked closely with seniors and people with disabilities. Mobility is an issue to them, and as I learned more about the website, it seemed like a great way for people to engage in municipal politics,” he says. “This website will be a great tool. I know some of the seniors would like to go to council meetings but because of their limited mobility, it impairs their ability to go to these discussions.”

Rommel’s also originally from the Philippines and while Filipinos are the city’s largest visible minority group, “Many Filipinos would like to join the discussion but don’t know most of the councillors,” he says. “Even the language can be an issue. English is a second language for us but the IserveU website will have a forum that will allow people to write in their first language and it will translate their thoughts into English. This way more people can share their opinion about what they want to see happen in the City.”

He closes with: “If we’re elected as councillors using IserveU, we’ll facilitate the forums on the website and when we go to vote on the motion in council, we’ll have a good idea what people want us to do. This means we’ll be able to do what people want.”

Click here for more information about Rommel Silverio’s campaign.

For more information about IserveU, visit iserveu.ca

Disclosure: The co-founder of IserveU, Paige Saunders, is a partner in Verge Communications Ltd., which publishes EDGE YK magazine and EDGE Online, though Saunders is not involved, in any way, in editorial decision-making. This sponsored post is an advertisement paid for by the NWT-registered IserveU society.

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