Haruun J. Ali is a 17-year-old youth advocate who is running for city council. (Courtesy: Haruun J. Ali)

One of the candidates for Ward 8, or papastew, in Edmonton’s October municipal election is a, currently, 17-year-old youth advocate.

“I really think that we as youth have the biggest stake in Edmonton, in any political future. We are the ones who are going to be here for a while,” said Haruun J. Ali. “I really want to work towards finding more ways to get youth to the table and into the discussion.”

According to Alberta’s election laws, candidates must be at least 18 to run by the end of the nomination period on Sept. 20. Ali will be 18 in April.

“I believe, as someone who is turning 18 and becoming an electorate, I have a responsibility to get out, say my piece and get in.”

He has been interested in politics since he was 14. Ali is currently involved with the City of Edmonton Youth Council and the Young Liberals group in Alberta.

“I was a volunteer on Thomas Dang’s campaign, I was out door knocking and I helped with canvasing,” said Ali.

Ali was also part of with Amarjeet Sohi’s re-election campaign. He said despite his past involvement with different parties, he wants to run for council as non-partisan.

“I’m not hoping for any party endorsement or anything like that. I’m just running to get some important change onto the table.”

Ali said getting youth more involved with politics is his main goal if he is elected onto council.

“I really think it’s important for us today to make the investment to work as hard as we can to get onto the ground floor of politics to ensure that our voice is heard.”

Ali believes city council is the perfect place for him as someone looking to begin their career in politics.

“If I was to be elected onto council, I would have 12 other colleagues I would be accountable to and I would have to work with them to get my platform and my ideas working and going.”

Ali also believes the Edmonton Police Service needs a reform.

“Policing shouldn’t be about ticketing and fining and putting people in jail. It should be about teaching people, empowering people and preventing people from making bad decisions. That’s what I really want to work with the provincial government on.”

And eventually, Ali hopes to be able to get into provincial and federal politics.

“My first step onto my political career is city council, getting the changes done in Edmonton and seeing how they do and then taking it onto a larger portfolio.”

If elected, Ali says he would be Edmonton’s youngest and first Black city councillor.

Edmonton’s municipal election is scheduled for Oct. 18, 2021.