Six questions with Ashley Perna, candidate for Portsmouth District

Ashley Perna, candidate for Portsmouth District in the 2022 City of Kingston municipal election. Submitted photo.

Editorial note:

Across the province, Ontarians are getting ready to cast their ballots in every city, town, and county as the 2022 Municipal Election is fast approaching. With election day on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022, Kingstonist has reached out to all candidates within the City of Kingston to create profiles allowing voters to find a brief overview of each candidate in one place. As response comes in, more and more candidate profiles will be added here, which you can access through our Municipal Election 2022 section (with the tab on the homepage), or through our ‘Candidate overview landing page.’

With 45 candidates in total for Kingston City Council alone – and with only one district acclaimed (Countryside District will once again be represented by Gary Oosterhof) and six districts without an incumbent – our goal is to provide as much information as possible leading up to the elections. Thus, we will endeavour to collect response from as many Kingston candidates as possible, with the hope of providing similar coverage for Loyalist Township, Frontenac County, and the Town of Greater Napanee moving forward. All relevant links will be available under the Municipal Election 2022 tab.

For more general information on election process in Kingston, including details on electing Board of Education Trustees, ensuring you are registered to vote, etc., visit the City of Kingston Municipal Elections webpage.

Candidate profiles are being published on our website in no particular order.

Ashley Perna came to Kingston after her last high school exam in 2002, and hasn’t left. A single mom to a teenager, she volunteers her time teaching technology classes at the Seniors Centre, and is running to represent Portsmouth District in the upcoming municipal term of Kingston City Council.

“Despite being passionate about local politics since 2015, I have not had the opportunity to run before,” Perna shared. “As a paycheque-to-paycheque worker with recent, lived experience with homelessness and poverty, running for Council didn’t seem like a possibility. It wasn’t until I received a modest inheritance from my grandmother that a Council run was even something I could financially consider.”

Perna works full-time as a law clerk/legal assistant, and enjoys writing and performing comedy, producing shows, reading, and absorbing live music in her spare time.

“I’m an active member of Kingston’s comedy community, frequently hosting, performing at, or producing comedy shows featuring and supporting Kingston’s local talent,” she said, and noting as a “fun fact” that she is a stand-up comedian.

How would you describe your personal political ideology and/or affiliation?

There are no party politics when it comes to City Council – just those of the people who have elected a Councillor to represent them. I firmly believe that the most important opinions are those [of those] who are being represented; in this case, the people of Portsmouth. 

What made you want to run in this municipal election?

I have recent, lived experience with homelessness (in 2015/2016). I decided to run because the people of the city, all of them, regardless of income level or socio-economic status, deserve to have their voices heard and their opinions reflected on Council. I know what it’s like to be doing well financially and what it’s like to experience absolute poverty and homelessness – this puts me in the unique position of being able to empathize with, and, most importantly, passionately bring forth, the concerns of everyone in my district. 

What are the three most common issues voters are bringing up to you as you campaign?

  1. Being heard. Time and time again I hear people complain that Council does not represent Kingston, but only a few select groups. People want to be heard, they want their representative to bring forth their concerns and to passionately advocate for them.
  2. Housing. There is no way around it – we are faced with an urgent housing crisis. This is a crisis that requires a joint effort, with City Councillors working with provincial and federal members of government. While this is an issue I am deeply passionate about, if elected, I will not vote on any issues, including those involving homelessness and housing, without first consulting with those in my district.
  3. Budget allocation. One big concern I’m hearing is that the City is not allocating the budget properly. For example, a common concern is policing costs around Homecoming, when our roads are in desperate need of repair. While, of course, funds allocated to policing cannot be randomly diverted to roads, the main issue is: ‘why are those funds being allocated this way in the first place?’

What three issues are most pressing/important to address locally, in your opinion?

I’m not running to make sure that my opinion is represented. I’m running to make sure that those in Portsmouth know that what they feel is the most pressing/important issue will be addressed. So, in my opinion, the three most pressing and important issues are those three that I’ve heard the most frequently going door to door. 

What is the most pressing issue in your district?

The issue most frequently brought to my attention is housing and homelessness. Portsmouth was the home of the Sleeping Cabin pilot project and there are many thoughts and opinions about the placement of those cabins this year. Folks have told me in the past that, while they are happy with how the project turned out, they were upset that they were not consulted first. If elected, my job isn’t to present to Council my opinion about any issue, including sleeping cabins; it’s to consult with and put forth those of the people of Portsmouth.

What do you feel sets you apart from other candidates?

To be frank, what sets me apart is my passion and my lived experience. I know what it’s like to not be heard, to feel that your concerns are unimportant to those in power. My intense drive to ensure that no one in Portsmouth feels that way is what sets me apart. 

Additionally, as a queer individual with lived experience with homelessness, who is a single mom living paycheque to paycheque, and who also works for and owns her own small business, I have a unique perspective that allows me to empathize with a wide variety of individuals. If elected, this perspective will ensure that all voices, opinions, and issues are heard, not just those I personally agree with.

For more information on Ashley Perna, candidate for Portsmouth District in the 2022 municipal election, visit her website or email her at a[email protected]. “I make myself available each and every Sunday from 3:30 until 5 p.m. at the Tim Horton’s on King Street West, so that voters can connect with me in person,” she said.

With files from Cris Vilela.

Leave a Reply

You cannot copy content from this page, please share the link instead!