Jacqueline Biollo is our second Political Maven! She is a Councillor for the town of Beaumont, Alberta. As an elected official, she wishes to educate and inform herself and her constituents about the issues, advocating for action, and ensuring transparency and accountability, sound judgment, integrity, conviction and passion to inspire. She is also the Executive Director for A Songbird’s Solo and boasts a variety of accomplishments, including founding an initiative called ArtStart, which was developed to give children in the inner city the opportunity to be exposed to the arts as well as the opportunity to develop their talents by establishing a multi-disciplinary arts education program. She took some time with us to talk about women in politics.
Q: How and why did you get involved in politics?
A: Always having been involved and engaged with matters of the community at large, and in some cases, for specific initiatives, it seemed a complimentary role that I might be approached and asked to run in an upcoming political election. Having a young family, a solid career and other interests and hobbies, I took some time to weigh the pros and cons of an endeavour such as politics, whilst aligning myself with more community groups and becoming more self-educated on local issues and municipal governance.
Q: Why do you think women should get involved in politics?
A: Women should get involved with politics because they want to, because they have self confidence, a strong dedication to research and a belief in the democratic system. Although many (both men and women) get involved with politics perhaps initially because of a particular cause/issue, I applaud individuals who are able to actively engage themselves in all agenda items and remain open to options and alternatives within the appropriate legislative proceedings.
Q: What issue do you see as particularly important for women?
A: Issues of importance to women should be no different than they are for a man – although I acknowledge that we may come at it from a different angle, or pose different questions, raise concerns, or champion something more intensely because of our natural tendency to seek collaborative solutions, put human attributes into perspective where applicable, and typically work towards a win-win solution rather than a one-upmanship or self-motivated one.
Q: Have you ever experienced any discrimination as a woman in politics? If so, describe your experiences and how you handled them.
A: Discrimination is also self-destructive (if you let it get the better of you) but that doesn’t mean it should be tolerated… so although there have been some obvious (or underlying) challenges in my political career, I have met each as a stand-alone situation, and if/when required, sought the support and advice of others within my network of colleagues, friends and family to pull me through. My slogan has been to focus on the People ~ Possibility ~ and Potential of things (including myself), so I look at hurdles as simply something I need to overcome, work to educate myself better on, and ensure a similar situation doesn’t lend itself to happening again.
Q: What issues are you passionate about?
A: I’m passionate about encouraging and empowering others, about positive thinking, and about “thinking outside the box.” I’m a risk taker, one with compassion and understanding… and although many might say my slogan SHOULD be “go big or go home.” What’s life if you’re not having a bit of fun in it as well?
Q: If you could change one thing about politics, what would it be?
A: That we get back to the knowledge and understanding (and appreciation for) the democratic system; that politicians are people too – and that although we do make mistakes, we have the best interest of the electorate at hand, have tried to educate ourselves to the best of our abilities with the resources available, and progress at times can be steady and slow.
Q: What is your Dream for Women?
A: My Dream for Women is that they will find confidence in themselves (even when they think no one else does) and that they too champion something they are passionate about. Seek to leave your own legacy.
Q: Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why or why not?
A: Although not a feminist, I do applaud women who have been able to find their niche within the seemingly untraditional roles or professions. Further, I applaud ongoing efforts to allow any select group (visible minorities, persons with disabilities, women, etc.) to obtain additional (educational) resources which might allow them to be (more) successful and/or open new door of opportunity for them… in my opinion a ‘battle’ of the sexes does not seem productive now or with sustainability for the future.
Q: What advice do you have for young women?
A: My advice for young women is to believe in yourself, chart your path, take and acknowledge small opportunities and ‘wins’ to advance you further, give of yourself freely, volunteer, and seek out individuals to whom you respect and ask them to mentor you.