Meet Jess Puddister! She is running for Councillor at Large and lives in Ward 5.
I’m from St. John’s, and I love this city. I grew up in East Meadows, graduated from Holy Heart High School, and completed my B.Sc. in Earth Science at Dalhousie University. I’ve been a lifelong athlete in the community, having competed nationally for both basketball and track & field. Through my career as a geo-environmental scientist, I’ve led urban wetland biodiversity studies, technical groundwork investigations for new construction, and soil and water analysis programs. I hold a certificate in asset management planning, lead community roundtables on climate change vulnerability, and write custom adaptation plans for town councils. I’m happy to get up on a roof to install solar panels, too! My partner Tim and I built a tiny house together in 2017, and we now live on Southside Road with our cat Ursa.
We asked Jess why she decided to run:
In 2017, I began a 3-year advocacy journey with towns on the Northeast Avalon to update their development regulations to allow tiny homes. This experience was very challenging, but also eye-opening and empowering. It ultimately pivoted my career into the municipal sector, and sparked a passion for strong, just, local governance. I now work as a Climate Change Resilience Coordinator, interfacing directly with towns across the province to help chart their way through infrastructure planning in light of projected climate impacts, and a path to net-zero. I also write a weekly column for The Independent covering St. John’s City Council meetings (took a leave of absence when I announced my campaign). I see the gaps, and where my skillset and abilities can plug in. The bottle-neck in addressing the climate crisis does not lie in science – it lies in politics. I’m at a point in my life and career where I can no longer sit on the sidelines; I am driven by utility and want to direct all of my efforts where they are most needed. In order to cut our carbon emissions quickly and effectively, we must design our city with intention and courage to make it possible. This means strong transit, active transportation infrastructure, mixed-use development, and regional collaboration. It means working with the landscape so it can fulfill its natural functions in surface water retention and distribution. It means long-term master planning and fiscal responsibility, so we are making decisions proactively, not reactively.