In honour of International Women’s Day, we sat down with the women who were elected to Town of Bonnyville Council to get to know them a little better.
This is Coun. Kayla Blanchette’s first term on Town Council. She is a married mother of two who has been active in the Bonnyville community for years.
Question: Why did you decide to run for Town Council?
Coun. Blanchette: “I was asked this question many times during campaign time and my response was always, “You vote in elections every four years, but when you’re elected to represent your community in local politics, a community that you have a strong passion for, you get to wake up and vote every day about what kind of community you want to live in, and that’s truly a privilege.”
Q: Do you think it’s important for women to be involved in municipal councils? Why or why not?
Coun. Blanchette: “It’s important for women to be involved in all levels of government. Women represent half the population, but we still tend to be underrepresented in politics, for various reasons.
I believe that becoming involved in municipal politics is a great place to start, because that’s where you can most directly make a difference. At the local level, you’re not bound to a party. You’re YOU, and that’s who people vote for.”
Q: What’s an important lesson you’ve learned during your time on council you may not have if you decided not to run?
Coun. Blanchette: “We’re almost five months into this term (already!), and I’ve learned so much! The thing I value the most is the fantastic team I get to work with. We all come from a different background and have a wide array of skills and strengths. We often refer to ourselves as the “dream team,” and it’s so fitting! They’re a dream to work with, and had I not decided to run for council, I would be missing out.”
Q: For women who may be considering or don’t have an interest in politics, why would you encourage them to look into it?
Coun. Blanchette: “I would ask them one question: Do you want women to have an equal opportunity to be represented and heard?
I anticipate most would say “yes,” so my response would be, “then why not you?”
Before making my final decision to run for council, I often asked myself whether I had what it took to be a councillor. Ultimately, I decided I did, because why not me?
One of my main reasons for running was seeing a list of candidates without a single other female vying for a councillor position. It was 2021, and that just would not do. I thought of my two children, one boy and one girl (until one of them tells me otherwise), and I want them to grow up in a world where they’re both represented, heard, have equal opportunities, and can set the same goals and not have gender be a barrier to achieving those goals. I wanted to lead by example, set the same goal as my male counterparts, and achieve it.”
Q: What unique qualities do you bring to the table being a woman?
Coun. Blanchette: “Given that women continue to be underrepresented in politics, simply being a woman at the table makes me unique! That being said, I do believe I have beliefs, values, and experiences that bring a unique voice to the table. For example, I’ve been an active stay-at-home parent, a working parent in a demanding career, a post-secondary student pursuing studies in social work, and a community member with a strong moral compass who recognizes social needs and the potential for growth and improvement in our community.”