With two months until voting day, Airdrie officially has its first mayoral candidate registered for the upcoming municipal election.
Local entrepreneur Lindsey Coyle also ran for council in 2017, and although she didn’t secure a seat in that election, she said the experience she gained is what helped her decide to run for mayor this time around.
“I have always been a politically engaged person and involved in the community,” Coyle said.
Until December 2020, Coyle ran the Airdrie Exchange, a local marketing agency and business directory. After closing her business at the tail-end of last year, she said she felt there was more that needed to happen locally, which sparked her decision to run for mayor.
“What I want to see happening is going to take a full-time effort,” she said. “That is why I made the jump from [running for] council to mayor.”
While she did not secure a council position in 2017, she said putting her name forward for public office was a great experience, and she was able to learn a lot about what it takes to run a successful campaign.
“What I learned about myself was that I needed to be more grounded in what I envisioned for our city,” she said. “Over the last four years, [having] conversations with all of the people, events, volunteering shapes your perspective.”
While incumbent Mayor Peter Brown has not yet announced whether or not he is running for re-election, competing against the long-time mayor is an exciting prospect for Coyle. She said Brown has done a great job as mayor, and she respects and appreciates what he has accomplished for the city over the last three terms.
“I am here because I have strengths and desires to make a positive change in our community,” she said. “I am running solely on what I want to see happen, I am taking responsibility for that.”
In Coyle’s opinion, the public has a specific perception as to what they believe politicians are like, and she would like to change any negative perceptions.
“I don’t fit the mould of what politicians are,” she said. “I don’t do a lot of those things that politicians do. As a citizen, I am looking at how we are perpetuating the very things that aren’t working in politics.”
She added there is often a feeling of disconnection and ineffectiveness in modern-day politics.
“I am looking at everything as a citizen, I am not a politician [although] I am a candidate,” she said. “I am compelled enough to throw my hat in the ring. We have had a complete disengagement.”
A large point of Coyle’s platform is centred around transparency and engagement with citizens of Airdrie. She said municipal politics do not operate “in a vacuum.”
“Our scope of responsibility is very defined, however the impact of provincial and federal policies on us means there is an educational component required,” she said.
In terms of engagement and accountability, she feels there are two points she can bring to the table. Coyle spoke to her proposition of developing a Politicians Accountability Record (PAR).
PAR, according to Coyle, would be a live document showing all committees and boards council members sit on and how their time is spent while serving as councillors and mayor.
“That kind of transparency is just a structure – it’s not that anybody has done anything wrong,” she said. “People keep saying they don’t see local politicians, maybe there are valid reasons.”
As for engagement, Coyle said she also sees the benefits of holding town hall meetings. If elected to the mayor position, she said she would have quarterly meetings to discuss important issues with the public.
Another element of Coyle’s platform is a desire to increase voter turnout. For the last municipal election, 24 per cent of Airdronians turned up to the polls. Coyle said having just 11,000 voters in a city of Airdrie’s size – roughly 68,000 people back in 2017 – shows something needs to change this time around to improve engagement with voters.
“If that is the baseline of our engaged population, there is no possibility of a functioning democratic society,” she said. “We have to address that.”
As a self-proclaimed “community connector”, Coyle added she wants voters to know she will be there to connect the community.
“In connecting the community, we can start seeing progress to action,” she said.
For more information on her platform and to stay connected, visit her Facebook page – Lindsey Coyle Mayor Hopefu