Sharon Shorty is running for city council.
Although she may be better known around town as her character, Gramma Susie, her campaign is no joke.
“I feel like I can contribute to city council,” said the 46-year-old lifelong Yukoner. “I do care a lot about my city.”
Improving the city’s transit services and expanding the current schedule is also high on the list of Shorty’s priorities. So is more free parking in the downtown.
“If we want to revitalize downtown, why wouldn’t we have more accessible parking?” she asked.
Land is also a big issue, said Shorty.
“I look at Whistle Bend for example,” she said. “I look at it and I think, ‘Why did they have to take all the trees down?’”
As a Tlingit person, Shorty feels that her ethnicity could be an asset for city council.
“I don’t exactly know the stats, but I think there’s a third First Nations that live in Whitehorse, and I think there should be some kind of representative in municipal government.
While she is a member of the Teslin Tlingit Council now, Shorty grew up as a Kwanlin Dun citizen, which, along with the Ta’an Kwach’an Council, is one of the biggest landowners in the city.
“I think it’s time to have a meaningful relationship with them,” said Shorty. “There are First Nations in the city and I think it would be great to have the good conversation with them, and I think I could be the person to do that.”
She’d also like to see the city better connect with it’s youth.
The “Whitehorse Youth Want … 2012” campaign of Bringing Youth Towards Equality, a Whitehorse based non-profit, is an inspiration to Shorty.
The idea is to get young people to write down issues important to them on a whiteboard and post the pictures online.
The issues run the gamut from housing to transit to environmental concerns.
“I agree with everything they’ve said so far,” said Shorty.
This is the first time that Shorty has ever run for municipal office, but she does have past political experience.
In addition to being self-employed as a performer, she is also the speaker for the general council for her First Nation in Teslin. Currently she is working toward her diploma in First Nations governance at Yukon College.
Though she never considered herself a political person, it has always been in the back of her mind.
“When I first started going to college, I went for a political science degree,” she said.
Eventually she transferred to the education department but never did end up graduating.
“My grandma in Teslin, she wanted me to come home,” said Shorty. “It actually ended up being a great thing, because I kind of did a traditional apprenticeship with her for storytelling, and I have never regretted that decision.”
Her experience as a performer and storyteller will serve her well if she’s elected to council, said Shorty.
“There’s a lot of transferable skills such as speaking in public, being in different situations and listening to people,” she said. “As a performer I listen to people all the time.”
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