Get to Know Your Candidates: Sim Senol, Ward 10

We sent out a brief, fun survey about libraries to all of the nominees running in the 2017 Edmonton civic election to help you get to better know your candidates.

These are the answers that Sim Senol from Ward 10 sent back to us.

Election day is Monday, October 16. Get to know your candidates, learn how you can support EPL,  and don’t forget to vote!

1. What is your favourite library memory or experience?

My father died when I was young and my family struggled financially for some years, even buying books was somewhat of a luxury for our family for a while. And we weren't lucky to have as many libraries as we have in Edmonton.

Luckily my mother's childhood friend was a librarian. I used to take a bus across town to go to the library across town. She would recommend me books to read and I spent hours there as a teenager.

Later, when I had my son, story time at the library is a great experience to share with a toddler/pre-schooler.

2. What is your favourite book, movie or song right now?

My favourite book of all time is Pride and Prejudice.

In recent years I am not reading as much I used to. These days most of my reading is on the internet, or from PDF files. Research articles on educational technology, news and political analysis is what I read more than fiction.

My favourite movie of all time is The Shawshank Redemption, and all time favourite song is "What a Wonderful World."

3. What magazines, newspapers, blogs, Twitter accounts and/or podcasts do you follow?

I am a news junkie, so my car radio is tuned into CBC news at all times (when my 11-year-old son is not in the car). When he's with me we tune in to billboard charts. 🙂

CBC, CNN, Edmonton Journal give me my daily dose of Canadian news. I still read a couple Turkish newspapers everyday. I follow Elise Stolte's excellent City Council coverage on Twitter.

Dave Cournoyer's daveberta blog, Troy Pavlek's yegvotes blog have been very helpful to me in recent months as I tried to understand more about the issues of our city.

4. Which fictional character do you most relate to and why?

I guess there's more than one... it depends on where you are at your life. Most of my friends and my husband liken me to Pollyanna, from the 1913 Eleanor Porter novel because of my optimism. 

Now during the City Council election campaign, I do feel a bit like Santiago, from The Old Man and the Sea. Running against an incumbent is like trying to haul a giant marlin. 

Finally, if I was to give an example from fictional characters of my home country, I do feel a bit like Hodja Nasreddin. In one story he's seen kneeling down by a lake mixing spoons of yogurt in the water. When asked by the villagers what he was doing, he says he's adding a starter culture to ferment the lake. When the villagers tell him it's impossible for the lake to turn into yogurt, he responds: "What if I succeed?" 

I am in a tough race against an incumbent at a City Council race, but what hasn't stopped Hodja Nasreddin from trying won't stop me.

5. What is one book you think everyone should read and why?

I will have to make a shameless plug here... My husband is actually an author. Unfortunately he writes in our native language of Turkish, so not a lot of people in Canada can read his books... but of course I will have to say that everyone has to read his second novel, called Mr. Consul. 

It is about the last 4 days in the life of an old man who lives in a Mediterranean town, who is (or believes to be) the Consul General of a country that doesn't exist anymore. 

It's funny, it's tragic, and of course it's a book he dedicated to me. If enough people want to read it maybe someone will translate it into English. As I said, my response to this question is highly biased. 🙂

6. What book is on your nightstand (or on your eReader or tablet) right now?

The Crying of Lot 49. I hadn't read it before and one of the candidates running for Ward 10 gave each of us a copy of that book before the first candidate forum. Campaign trail is very busy right now but I hope to read it soon.

7. Election Day (October 16) is also Boss' Day. Who was your very first boss and what was your job? What was one important lesson you learned from them?

Not counting the time I carried sugar or flour sacks at our family business my brother ran after my father passed away, and not counting the babysitting jobs I had here and there, my very first job was working for a travel agency in my hometown in Turkey. 

I was 18 and had just returned back from the U.S. where I spent a year as an exchange student. I did many things like corresponding with agencies abroad, making arrangements for tourists coming to Bursa, worked as a travel guide taking tourists sightseeing etc. 

It was only a summer job and almost 30 years ago, so I don't remember the name of my boss, but he taught me that customers can sense a smile even through the phone lines.

8. What role do you see EPL playing in a thriving and vibrant Edmonton?

Libraries are a great asset to each community. I am especially passionate about childhood literacy. 

A good command of one's language is the key to success, in any field, even engineering and the more quantitative fields. So, I see investment in EPL as an investment in our future. 

Also, Edmonton's immigrant population is growing. Almost one in four Edmontonians are now foreign-born. As a new immigrant to Canada myself, I would like to see libraries become even more prevalent in the lives of immigrant children. I would love to see special programs to attract them to EPL.