Category Archives: Stephen Mandel

207 days until mayoral vote 2010.

Following Mayor Stephen Mandel‘s recent announcement that he will be running for a third-term in office, I have a couple of quick thoughts on the October Municipal election:

1) A cake-walk through the park? It is really too early to tell whether Mayor Mandel will face an easy re-election in October. In the non-race for Mayor of 2007, second place challenger Don Koziak earned 25% while only running a semblance of a city-wide campaign. I would not underestimate the electoral potential of an even moderately organized & well-funded outsider/anti-Council candidate, especially if it looks like Mayor Mandel is going to cruise to another victory.

2) Opposition is split. Mayor Mandel enjoys wide-spread support and the opposition he does face appears to be fragmented around varying issues. The people who are furious about the closure of the Edmonton City Centre Airport or annoyed about the funding of the Art Gallery of Alberta are unlikely to vote for the same candidate as the people angry over the Capital Power-Epcor decision. At this point, no champion challenger apparent has emerged with the potential of galvanizing this dissent (watching Season 3 of The Wire has taught me that even two or three reasonable challengers could bleed a Mayor’s support and create some interesting results).

3) What issues? There are no shortage of issues that I hope will be the focus of debate in this election (urban sprawl, inner city schools, regional amalgamation, and others that I plan to write about over the next six months), but the one issue that may have the potential to create a major wave is the Katz Group‘s desire to have the City of Edmonton to fund $400,000,000 for a new downtown arena. The Katz Group has hired long-time PC-insider Peter Elzinga as a lobbyist and launched a political campaign to “Revitalize Downtown” in advance of the election. Mayor Mandel was an early supporter of the downtown arena, but remains publicly coy about his position on the actual Katz Group proposal.

Meanwhile in Calgary, the race to replace retiring Mayor Dave Bronconnier remains eerily quiet. Former PC MLA Jon Lord and food activist Paul Hughes are in the race. Former Ontario NDP MPP George Dadamo entered the race last Summer and has since dropped off the political map. Game show contestant and Alderman Ric McIver is widely expected to join the race and an online campaign to draft Mount Royal University professor Naheed Nenshi is growing.

mayor stephen mandel to run for re-election.

Edmonton Journal columnist Scott McKeen is reporting via Twitter that Mayor Stephen Mandel is expected to announce whether or not he will run for re-election in the October 18, 2010. Mayor Mandel was re-elected to a second term in 2007 with 65% of the vote. He served as Councillor for Ward 1 from 2001 until becoming unseating Mayor Bill Smith in 2004.

In May 2009, I wrote a blog post speculating some of the contenders who could replace Mayor Mandel.

UPDATE: At a media conference held at the Bissell Centre this morning, Mayor Mandel has announced his intention to seek re-election for a third-term as Mayor of Edmonton. It is not yet known whether he will face a strong challenger in his campaign for re-election.

alberta politics notes 2/24/2010

– As Bill 1, the Alberta Competitiveness Act is this sessions flagship piece of government legislation. With all the focus on “competitiveness,” has anyone wondered what happened to the Premier’s Economic Strategy Committee that was announced last summer? (their website has not been updated since July 2009) The committee included former Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan, former MP David Emerson, and former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge.
– Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier announced that he will not be seeking re-election in October. Bronconnier was first elected as Mayor in 2001. Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel has yet to make his electoral intentions public.
– Alberta could hold its fourth Senate election since 1989 along-side the municipal elections this October.
– Edmonton City Council approved the Municipal Development Plan this week. Councillor Don Iveson has posted some remarks on his blog.
– Lethbridge-East MLA Bridget Pastoor scored a win for the Liberal Opposition this week when the Assembly approved her motion to “…urge the Government to establish an independent Commission to review the current salaries and benefits for Members of the Legislative Assembly…” It is important to note that as this was a Private Member’s Motion, it is non-binding.
– Facing charges of cocaine-possession and drunk-driving, former Edmonton-Strathcona Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer is expected to plea-bargain when his case reconvenes in March.
– In my previous post, I mentioned the low-voter turnout in the 2008 provincial election. Here is a map showing voter turnout in ridings across the province (only 4 out of 83 ridings had a turnout larger than 50%).

alberta redrawing boundaries.

Alberta’s Electoral Boundaries Commission is now into its third week of its first round of public hearings. My previous post on the Commission has generated some great discussion about the challenges of representing rural electoral districts and I am looking forward to an upcoming post by a guest contributor to this blog that will delve deeper into some of the issues raised in that discussion.

Thanks to the good people at Hansard, transcripts and audio are now available from the last two weeks of hearings in Fort McMurray: (afternoon, evening), St. Paul, Wainwright, Edmonton (September 22nd afternoon, evening). The transcripts and audio from the September 23rd public hearings in Edmonton and September 24th & 25th in Calgary are not available yet, but I would expect that they should be posted at some point this week. 

So far, it has been a relatively small number of Albertans who have presented to the commission, including MLAs Laurie Blakeman and Guy Boutilier, municipal officials including Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland, County of St. Paul Reeve Robert Bouchard, Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel, and a number of representatives from Liberal and Progressive Conservatives constituency associations.

Due to legislative amendments introduced into the Legislative Assembly by Justice Minister Alison Redford during the Spring session, the Electoral Boundaries Commission will increase the amount of electoral districts from 83 to 87. While it’s very questionable why Albertans would need more MLAs, the increase may help the case presented by Mandel, who urged the Commissioners to increase Edmonton’s representation by two seats. The outcome of the 2002/2003 Boundaries Commission saw Edmonton’s representation in the Legislative Assembly decrease by one MLA, a move that is widely believed to have contributed to the defeats of seven capital city PC MLAs in the 2004 provincial election (Commission member Bauni Mackay penned a spirited defence of Edmonton in her minority position).

These public hearings haven’t been overflowing with presenters, but I expect that interest will rise after the interim report and interim map are released in the coming months. The submission deadline for the first round of public hearings is on October 13.

Related:
Brian Dell: My Submission to the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission
Trish Audette: Rural vs Urban tug of war

phased closure of edmonton’s city centre airport a smart step.

I am very pleased that Edmonton City Council decided to support the phased closure of the City Centre Airport. Yesterday’s 10 to 3 vote (with Councillors Tony Caterina, Ron Hayter, and Linda Sloan being the three) puts an end to this portion of a debate that started long before the 1995 City-wide plebiscite on scheduled service.

I am proud of our City Council. They made a courageous decision and have taken up the challenge of implementing some (literally) ground-shifting positive change to how urban Edmonton will develop over the next twenty years. Mack Male was in Council Chambers yesterday and has written a good recap of the vote, amendments, and what the result means for the ECCA and our City. While Councillors stopped short of attaching actual dates to the closure, which may leave some people remaining skeptical about the decision, Mayor Stephen Mandel insisted that the motion was a clear decision to close to ECCA.

The group of Edmontonians supporting the closure were diverse, but it was likely one of the first times that social media has played a prominent role in such an important municipal decision as this. While it is impossible to know what decision Councillors would have made under different circumstances, Notmyairport.ca (which was launched masterfully by Mack Male), twitter (see: #ecca), a large Facebook presence, and a very active group of young Edmontonian bloggers proved that the organic nature of social media can translate into a very powerful advocacy tool. I look forward to seeing more of this kind of grassroots advocacy on future municipal issues (I’m looking at you, Better Edmonton…)

One of the main groups opposing the closure was the Alberta Enterprise Group. While I joked yesterday that this now puts the group at 0 for 2 (AEGs predecessor group, the Grassroots Leadership Group, bankrolled Mark Norris’ campaign for the PC leadership in 2006), I believe that this was a significant legitimizing exercise for the AEG. Although they seem to have a larger focus on provincial affairs, as suggested by their recent trade delegation to Switzerland (which included Premier Ed Stelmach), I doubt that this is the last we will see of this group. With a municipal election ahead in October 2010, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the AEG throw their financial support behind candidates in the Mayoral and some Councillor races.

Edmontonians and their Councillors will now be challenged to put a great of thought and reflection into what kind of communities we want to see realized on the ECCA lands in ten or twenty years from now. It’s hard for me not to get excited about the unique opportunity that the closure of the ECCA is giving Edmonton because it is extremely rare for any major metropolitan area to be given the challenge of developing such a large piece of land so close to the city core.

As I wrote in my letter to Councillors Ben Henderson and Jane Batty earlier this week, the land which the ECCA now sits on has incredible potential for increased smart residential and commercial development. These include the three smart growth strategies that Peter Newman spoke about when he was in Edmonton for last month’s ICLEI World Congress: Pedestrian Oriented Developments, Transit Oriented Developments, and Green Oriented Developments.

There is no reason why Edmontonians should settle for less than the best to be built on the ECCA lands. If developed with thought and foresight, new smart growth on the ECCA lands will bring us a step closer to realizing that there can be a better Edmonton.

Related Links:
– The Edmontonian: Interview with CBC Radio (with @journalistjeff and @mastermaq)
– fusedlogic The Great Edmonton Airport Debate
– Don Iveson: City Centre Airport: Leaning Towards Closure
– Alain Saffel: Should Edmonton close the Edmonton City Centre Airport?
– Darren Barefoot: Edmonton’s Airport Debate
– Scott McKeen: Fifty years of airport rancour must end with decision to close it

iclei world congress 2009 edmonton: day one.

I attended the opening plenary session of the 2009 ICLEI World Congress in Edmonton‘s Shaw Conference Centre. The 628 ICLEI delegates will face a rigorous agenda over the next four days. Congress delegates have flown in from around the world, including over 100 delegates who do not speak English.

David CadmanStephen Mandel

David CadmanStephen Mandel

(The great caricatures were drawn by Roy Blumenthal)

The 2009 ICLEI World Congress opened with speeches from:

Stephen Kabuye, ICLEI’s Vice President, Mayor of Entebbe, Uganda
Stephen Mandel, Mayor of Edmonton
David Cadman, Deputy Mayor of Vancouver, Canada & ICLEI President
Ray Danyluk, Alberta’s Minister of Municipal Affairs
Bärbel Dieckmann, Chairperson, World Mayors Council on Climate
Change, Mayor of Bonn, Germany

Of all the speakers, Cadman was the most passionate. As President of ICLEI, he used his time at the podium to urge delegates to lobby their state, provincial, and national governments for serious action on sustainable development and climate change. As this year’s COP15 meeting in Copenhagen approaches, the world’s municipalities will play a key role in advocating for serious action on the international stage. Even though it was only the first day of the Congress, I get the distinct feeling that municipal frustration towards regional and national inaction on sustainability and climate change is a common feeling among delegates.

GOA BoothStephen Mandel

Critics may point out the irony of holding an international sustainability conference due south of Alberta’s Energy Beach, but the 2009 ICLEI World Congress will give Alberta’s cities an opportunity to highlight some of the innovative sustainability initiatives that are being implemented at a local level. With an increased international spotlight on Alberta’s potential as an even stronger energy leader (and the irresponsible way that we are currently exploiting our resources), the Government of Alberta may feel an increased international pressure to become serious about cleaning up the way we are allowing oil companies to extract our natural resources.

For up-to-the-minute coverage of ICLEI over the next week, I will be uploading photographs on Flickr and joining the discussion on Twitter at #ICLEI. For more information on ICLEI, check out Mastermaq’s Guide to ICLEI World Congress in Edmonton.

who will run for mayor of edmonton in 2010?

With Edmonton’s next municipal election less than a year and a half away (and new Ward Boundaries up for debate) one of the big questions looming is whether Stephen Mandel will seek a third term as Mayor. Mandel has hinted in the past that he would only serve two terms in the Mayor’s office, but if his two immediate predecessors are any indication, it is likely that he might seek a third term. Although I’m not sure if Mandel would face a serious challenger if he does run for re-election, his absence from the 2010 race could draw some interesting candidates into the contest. While no one has yet to declare their candidacy, here are some of the names that I’ve heard mentioned:

Karen Leibovici: A seasoned political veteran after serving three-terms on as a Councillor for Ward 1 (2001-present) and two-terms as the MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark (1993-2001), Leibovici is well positioned to compete for the Mayor’s chair. While her background in social work and time as a Liberal MLA solidified her centre-left credentials, Leibovici has played the role of Council fiscal hawk on more than one occasion (including joining with former right-wing Councillor Mike Nickel to vote against the Universal Bus Pass in 2007). Her credentials in Edmonton’s established political community also put her in a strong position to gain the support of many of Mandel’s organizers, which means her candidacy many depend on whether the current Mayor decides to seek a third term.

Linda Sloan: Also a Councillor for Ward 1 and former Edmonton-Riverview MLA (1997-2001), Sloan could be a strong candidate for Mayor. Her background as a nurse and former President of the Staff Nurses Association would likely ensure her campaign strong support from the City’s public sector unions. While her passion for seniors and emergency services issues has gained her notoriety, Sloan’s passion can sometimes be the source of tension between herself and fellow Councillors. During last year’s budget debates, Ward 5 Councillor Bryan Anderson infamously muttered the words “Jesus, Linda. Shut up, please” during one of those tense moments. Her seat at the head table with Michael Ignatieff at his recent Edmonton fundraising dinner have fueled rumours of a potential candidacy for the Federal Liberals in Edmonton-Centre.

Kim Krushell: After working as Executive Assistant to Councillor Larry Langley, Krushell was elected to her first term on Council in 2004. Since then she has been closely identified with Edmonton’s Next Gen committee and was Council’s point-person on the Universal Bus Pass (media-savvy Krushell could also be counted as the Councillor most likely to get media exposure on a weekly basis). While it may be easy to dismiss Krushell’s chances, it would be a mistake to confuse her enthusiasm for a lack of political savvy. A long-time PC Party member, Krushell endorsed Jim Dinning for the PC leadership in 2006 and could potentially call on her partisan connections to help her campaign in a potential contest against two former Liberal MLAs.

Wild Cards:

The ‘Airport’ candidate: As I wrote in an earlier blog post, with the City Centre Airport (ECCA) issue coming to a head around the time of the next municipal election, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Alberta Enterprise Group (AEG) use this as a springboard to front a candidate for Mayor. Who would take this mantle? The AEG originated from the organization created to provide financial backing to Mark Norris’ unsuccessful campaign for the PC leadership in 2006, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see this group support an attempted political comeback by the former Edmonton-McClung PC MLA. Another potential ‘Airport’ candidate could be current Ward 3 Councillor and staunch defender of the ECCA, Tony Caterina.

Robert Noce: After trying twice for Mayor in 2001 and 2004, a vacancy in the Mayor’s chair could convince Noce that third time’s a charm. While the former Ward 3 Councillor (1995-2001) has stayed away from official politics, Noce has represented local developers in a number of cases, including the controversial high rise condo development in Glenora in 2008. Noce was rumoured to be interested in the Edmonton-East Liberal candidacy before the 2004 federal election, and more recently I have heard (questionable) chatter that he is interested in seeking the Conservative nomination when five-term Conservative MP Peter Goldring retires.

Don Koziak: After placing a distant second with 25% of the vote in 2007s thoroughly uncompetitive Mayoral race, I would imagine that the Team Koziak will be unlikely to re-start their engines if the contest attracts a stronger field of candidates in 2010. Koziak, the owner of the Chateau Louis Hotel was an unsuccessful Ward 2 candidate in 1995, 1998, and 2004. In 2000, Koziak was the PC candidate in Edmonton-Calder before withdrawing his candidacy for personal reasons.

Mike Nickel: Where in the world is former Councillor Mike Nickel? Gone into self-imposed political exile after being unseated by Don Iveson in 2007, the former Stickman, one-term Councillor, and two-time Mayoral candidate (1998 and 2001) has dropped off the political radar. Three years may be too soon for Nickel to mount a political comeback, but the new proposed Ward boundary changes could make a City Hall comeback much easier for Nickel.

Brian Mason: Ok, I’ll admit that this is an unlikely scenario. Though the leader of Alberta’s NDP probably won’t run for Mayor, with the name recognition earned after two decades as a Councillor (1989-2000) and MLA (2000-present), Mason would make an interesting entry into the race. His victory would be long-shot, but his departure from the Legislature would open a door in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood for some new blood for Alberta’s third-place party (Deron Bilous or Janice Melnychuk could make convincing candidates) and would allow for heir-apparent and well-spoken co-caucus mate Rachel Notely to take the helm of the tiny Alberta NDP caucus.

edmonton city centre airport debate.

Anyone who has paid attention to the recent debate about whether to close or continue operations at Edmonton’s City Centre Airport (ECCA) likely will have noticed how much the debate has been based on anecdotal arguments and testimonials.

Supporting the ECCAs continued operation, the Alberta Enterprise Group (AEG) has proven effective at collecting stories from local business people in support of the ECCA. While the buzz AEG has been able to generate is impressive (with the exception of a cheesy media stunt), their arguments have yet to contribute objective figures or solid facts supporting the continued operation of the ECCA.

On the other side of the debate, many of the members of a facebook group supporting the closure of the ECCA have provided the same style of anecdotal evidence, and weighing in with some needlessly adversarial responses to AEG and ECCA supporters.

While it’s hard to have sympathy for the company President or CEO who would be inconvenienced by an extra fifteen to twenty minute drive to his or her private company jet, I am still waiting for the City of Edmonton’s ECCA assessment report (which will hopefully include actual facts and numbers) before I decide whether to take a side in this debate. The report is due to be released in June 2009.

Last week, in his State of the City address, Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel challenged supporters of the ECCA to come up with better arguments.

“Please understand that environmental costs will have to be paid either way. Don’t tell us that your business status entitles you to special consideration, and that treating you like every other Edmontonian is somehow an affront.”

I agree with Mayor Mandel’s point, but it’s hard not to notice that he doesn’t appear to apply the same argument to other controversial development proposals (including the proposed construction and public financing of a new downtown arena for the Edmonton Oilers).

I recently attended a presentation by hosted by the City-Region Studies Centre at the University of Alberta where two American city planners talked about the creative regional transportation planning used by planners in Portland, Oregon. While learning about Portland’s approach to planning, including the heavy role placed on the balance of quality of life and economic development (never one at the expense of the other), it occurred to me that, if closed, the 217-hectare land sitting below the ECCA could present Edmonton a unique opportunity.

While I haven’t decided whether or not I support the continued operation of the airport, new development that included mixed-income walkable communities could provide a smart counterbalance with distinctive character to the endless cookie cutter suburban neighbourhoods that have become an increasingly normal sight on the now sprawling edges of Edmonton’s city limits.

2009 mayor’s celebration of the arts.


The turnout was excellent turnout at last night’s Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts at the Winspear Centre in downtown Edmonton. Hosted by the Professional Arts Coalition of Edmonton (PACE) and MC’d by CBCs Peter Brown and CTVs Carrie Doll, the 22nd annual event was an entertaining reminder to Edmonton’s business and political elite that there is more to life than profits and balanced budgets (though we’ll hear more about that soon). Notable political attendees included Mayor Stephen Mandel, Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett, Environment Minister Rob Renner, MLA Laurie Blakeman, and City Councillors Ben Henderson, Jane Batty, and Amarjeet Sohi.

The evening included performances by Jeremy Spurgeon, The Be Arthurs, The Raving Poets, Chris Craddock and Nathan Cuckow from Bash’d, Ann Vriend, John Cameron, the KO Dance Project, and Bomba!.

There were many nominees, but this years award winners were:

Mayor’s Award for Innovative Support: CIBC
Mayor’s Award for Sustained Support: SEE Magazine
John Poole Award for Promotion of the Arts: Ellis Brothers Photography
ATCO Gas Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement: Tim Ryan
Molson Award for Innovative Artistic Direction: Shelley Switzer
Northlands Award for Emerging Artist: Kristy Trinier
Stantec Award for Youth Artist: Roydon Tse
Telus Courage to Innovate Award: Rising Sun Theatre
City of Edmonton Book Prize: Imagining Head-Smashed-In: Aboriginal Buffalo Hunting on the Northern
Plains,
Jack W. Brink, Athabasca University Press

Like previous years, the final act (Bomba!) ended with a giant audience dance-off on stage, and while he may have tried his hardest, Mayor Mandel was clearly out-danced by Minister Blackett.

MORE: Mastermaq has a posted pictures and a review of the event.

community league opposition to edmonton ward changes.

David Dodge, President of the Evansdale Community League in north Edmonton has penned a letter to the Mayor Stephen Mandel and City Council in support of the current two Councillor per Ward system. City Council recently held public hearings on proposed changes that would see Edmonton move from the two Councillor per Ward to a one Councillor per Ward system (with smaller Wards).

Councillors Ben Henderson and Ron Hayter faced off on the topic of Ward changes in this week’s Edmonton Examiner.

municipal pre-budget wish-lists.

In advance of today’s Federal Budget release, Alberta’s municipalities have prepared their wish-lists:

City of Calgary:

In anticipation, Calgary has provided a list of projects that could be started within 120 days, ranging from a ordable housing to new LRT lines to green initiatives.

The city, which is spending $4 billion on capital projects over the next three years, has a much more expensive list that is unfunded.

City of Edmonton:

Edmonton has identified $2.4 billion worth of projects that could start immediately if federal funding becomes available in Tuesday’s budget.

These include the $825-million extension of the LRT from downtown to NAIT, $462
million for new buses and $50 million to revitalize 118th Avenue.

City of Lethbridge:

Lethbridge Mayor Bob Tarleck echoed those sentiments, saying tax cuts are not the answer.

Instead, he said, the government needs to do something “sharply focused” on a short-term basis, such as labour intensive infrastructure programs.

Tarleck suggested the creation of affordable housing or retrofitting existing housing to make it more energy efficient, would help the economy and those living on the streets.

– Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel also joined other Big Cities Mayors in calling for accelerated infrastructure funding.

The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association:

…(AUMA) is encouraged to learn that tomorrow’s federal budget will contain new dollars for infrastructure projects, including for green infrastructure, in time to fight the recession.

AUMA President Lloyd Bertschi says this commitment today by federal Infrastructure Minister John Baird, along with the federal government’s pledge to accelerate existing infrastructure funding, will create thousands of new jobs and speed up much-needed repairs to Alberta’s municipal infrastructure

mandel at mcclung.

found its way into my inbox this week:

This month’s Young McClung meeting will be held on this Thursday, February 28th, from 7-8PM at the Wolf Willow Starbucks (corner of 69ave and 170st)! We will be graced with the presence of his Worship, Mayor Stephen Mandel, who will be speaking on his role as Mayor of our city and taking questions!
*Please note that Mayor Mandel will not be taking questions regarding the 2008 Alberta provincial elections.

Young McClung is a non partisan Youth political group which runs out of the Edmonton-McClung constituency that meets monthly over coffee to discuss various topics in politics.

a big day.

It’s a big political day today…

– It’s the candidate nomination deadline for municipal election candidates in Alberta. After 12 noon, Albertans will know who they will be able to vote for in the October 15 Municipal Elections. I already know who I am voting for in Ward 5.

– Don Koziak has thrown his hat in the ring for Mayor. Koziak’s last minute run against current Mayor Stephen Mandel should be an interesting one…

– Today is by-election day in Quebec. With three by-elections set for today, it should be interesting to see which way the political climate in La Belle Provence is shifting.

I was in Outremont back in August and if the amount of signs mean anything, it’s Robert Mulcair’s to lose. That said, a Mulcair win in Outremont sends a strong signal towards the Harper Tories and Dion Liberals about their growth potential on the vote rich island of Montreal.

mandel rising.

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel has launched his re-election campaign with a new website and billboard campaign

In 2004, Mandel was first elected after coming from behind in a three-way race between then-Mayor Bill Smith and former City Councillor Robert Noce. Previous to being elected Mayor, Mandel served as a Councillor for Ward 1 from 2001 to 2004.

Here are the 2004 results:

Mayor
Stephen Mandel – 85,887
Bill Smith – 68,767
Robert Noce – 52,640
Tilo Paravalos – 921
Dieter Peske – 905
Dave Dowling – 858
Thomas “Buffalo Terminator” Tomilson – 768
Jean-Paul Noujaim – 390