With three of Edmonton’s City Councillors in the mayoral election and two councillors retiring, there are now five open Wards in this year’s municipal election. With five out of twelve city councillors not running for re-election, the open races are attracting a handful of eager candidates.
Twitter diva Kathleen Smith is rumoured to be preparing to launch her candidacy in southwest Edmonton’s Ward 5. Known on Twitter as @kikkiplanet, the feisty Mrs. Smith has developed a loyal following online. Can she translate her social media capital into a real world campaign?
With three-term City Councillor Kim Krushell not seeking re-election, two candidates have stepped up in Ward 2. Past candidate Shelley Tupper and former trustee Bev Esslinger announced their entries into the Ward 2 City Council race this week. Ms. Esslinger served on the public school board, representing north Edmonton’s Ward A from 2004 until 2010. In 2012, she was the Progressive Conservative candidate in the provincial constituency of Edmonton-Calder, where she placed second to New Democrat David Eggen.
Past candidate Don Koziak is rumoured to be interested in running in Ward 2. In 2010, Mr. Koziak earned a close second place finish behind Councillor Krushell.
There are now two weeks until Edmontonians have the opportunity to elect their Mayor, City Councillors, and School Board Trustees (either Public or Catholic). The polls will be open from 9:00am to 8:00pm on Monday, October 18. If you will not be able to vote on Election Day, you can take advantage of advanced voting until October 16 (open 11:30am to 5:00pm from Monday to Friday and from 9:00am to 4:00pm on Saturday).
Being a responsible citizen, I have been thinking a lot about the ballot choices I will make on election day.
Edmonton Public School Board Ward F
My vote for Public School Board Trustee was the easiest to decide. I will be voting for Ward F candidate Michael Janz. I have known Michael for a few years and know that if elected he will be a strong advocate for community involvement in the future of our public schools.
For too long, our Public School Board has acted as a pasture for retired school principals and school board administrators and because of this it has withered into insignificance among the general public. I know that Michael understands this and believe that if elected as a Trustee, he will work to increase the relevance of our Public School Board beyond teachers, parents, and children.
Marking an X beside Michael Janz was an easy decision for me, but do not let me stop you from reading more about Joanna Rozmus and Bev Sawyer.
City Council Ward 6
I am having a difficult time deciding what to do with my City Council ballot. I am feeling extremely underwhelmed about the candidates in the downtown Ward 6. I thought that tuning-in online to last week’s all-candidates forum might help me with my decision, instead it just increased my indecision.
Incumbent Councillor Jane Batty is a nice person and as a Councillor she appears invisible on the issues. I pay attention to municipal politics and still have little idea what Councillor Batty has achieved during her three terms on City Council. I have also seen little existence of her campaign in this ward and have only spotted her election signs in front of her campaign office on Jasper Avenue and 122nd Street.
Ward 6 challenger Bryan Kapitza’s ideas speak to me on paper, but that is not enough. After meeting the man in-person, I have serious questions about whether he has the personality to forge meaningful working relationships with other Councillors (which is essential if you want to achieve anything on City Council).
The other candidates all blend together. Wildrose Alliance caucus staffer James Johnson entered the contest late and has been running a fairly cookie-cutter conservative campaign. I honestly have very little to write about the other challengers, Carla Frost, Lee Permann, Adil Pirbhai, and Thomas Roberts.
Considering the challenges and opportunities facing our downtown core neighbourhoods, it is pretty disappointing that this Ward was not able to attract a more dynamic group of candidates. With the election only nine days away, the candidates in Ward 6 will need to do something pretty spectacular in order to convince me not to spoil the Councillor section of my ballot.
Depending on what part of Edmonton you live in, you have probably noticed the lawn signs beginning to line up on private front lawns and sprawled across City-owned boulevards. While I hear that the sign war is red hot in the closely contested Wards 3, 7, and 11, in my downtown Ward 6 I have only noticed signs from a handful of candidates (Michael Janz, Bev Sawyer, Brian Kaptiza, and Rudy Arcilla).
Thus far there is virtually no signage belonging to incumbent Councillor Jane Batty in my neighborhood. This is a stark contrast from the last time I lived in this neighborhood during a municipal election. Back in 2004, I remember the area being covered with signs belonging to Councillors Michael Phair, Mrs. Batty, and then-challenger Ben Henderson (who is now standing for election in the new Ward 8 on the south side of the North Saskatchewan River).
There have been three City of Edmonton sponsored all-candidates forums held since Nomination Day in Wards 3, 7, and 11. They were all live-streamed online and should be posted shortly afterwards on the City of Edmonton election website.
Jeff Samsonow wrote a thought-provoking article yesterday that raised some serious questions about how the media cover their colleagues who are jumping into politics. More specifically, Mr. Samsanow is referring to on-leave Edmonton Journal columnist Scott McKeen, who is standing for election in Ward 7. Journal columnist Todd Babiak shared some of his thoughts on the Edmonton Commons blog, but did not really address the issue that Mr. Samsonow was getting at.
Scanning some of the candidates websites over the past few days has revealed some interested gems. Who would have thought that the people in your neighbourhood were such a colourful bunch? For example, did you know that the guy living down the street believes that the relationship between North Edmonton and South Edmonton is similar to North Korea and South Korea? Ward 3 candidate John Oplanich says so on his website.
The Northside has been ignored for far too long at the expense of the Southside/Westend/Millwoods and City Council (Ron Hayter, Kim Krushell, Ed Gibbons, Tony Caterina) has allowed this to happen. The southside/westend /Millwoods continues to flourish, prosper and live in luxury as the northside is drowning in controversy – City Center Airport/CN Railway in Calder. For 80 years we have called this corridor a Wasteland-Dead Zone. Can we afford to wait another 40 years? We need a strong and clear voice on City Council. VOTE for CHANGE. I‘m starting to feel like I live in North Korea and on the opposite side of the river is beautiful South Korea.
Ward 4 candidate Scott Robb is the first open Satanist to stand for election in Edmonton. I do not wade into the topic of organized religion very often on this blog (for good reason) and I am not going to start now, so you can make your own judgments. Whether you agree with Mr. Robb’s religious beliefs or not, he deserves some credit for being so open with it (at least he’s not running for the Catholic School District). I asked Mr. Robb about an online campaign that has emerged against him:
“All I have to say about it is it is one man’s narrow-minded ignorant opinion of me in which he fabricated stories, took posts of mine out of context (and some were photoshopped, although he publicly denies it)…
I’m curious, is that where everyone is finding out my religious beliefs? Because Satanism is not a cult, it’s been recognized as a legit religion since the british repealed their witchcraft laws in 1951! Cults brainwash people and don’t let members leave, we urge people to learn on their own and allow them to leave our church simply with a notification that they wish to…”
Meanwhile, retiring Trustee Gerry Gibeault is sharing some advice from his fifteen years on the Edmonton Public School Board: School Board Secrets. One political watcher close to the public school board has told to me that the online presence of this normally low-profile Trustee in this campaign could signal Mr. Gibeault’s desire for more than just a quiet retirement. The source suggested that Mr. Gibeault could be interested in a return to provincial politics in the near future. He was the NDP MLA for Edmonton-Mill Woods from 1986 to 1993.
Mayoral candidates targeted the vote rich communities of Senior citizens in the City today. Mayor Stephen Mandel announced plans today about Seniors Housing and Recreation. The Seniors Housing plan proposes more cooperation between the City, the Province, Builders, and Seniors Groups to expand the number of seniors housing units available in Edmonton.
Mayoral candidate David Dorward made his first non-City Centre Airport related policy announcement today focusing on seniors and taxes. It has not yet been posted online or emailed out to their media list, so I do not have link to refer to. Thanks to @OrganizerMike for providing a less than 140 character summary of Mr. Dorward’s announcement:
@davecournoyer i stopped by his Presser- tax caps, tax rebates to seniors, review LRT spending -basically #yegvote
The first Mayoral all-candidates forum will be held tonight at Harry Ainley School from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. I will be there live-tweeting (follow @davecournoyer and #yegvote) and will provide some reflections on the debate later tonight.