With a less efficient dollar-to-vote ratio was Ms. Leibovici, who earned 41,182 votes (19% of the total vote) while outspending Mr. Iveson by more than $237,500 and declaring a steep $142,415.27 campaign deficit.
Released last week, the financial disclosures for Edmonton’s 2013 Mayoral and City Council elections detail how much each mayoral and councillor candidate raised and expensed during the campaign. Below is the breakdown for the top three mayoral candidates.
This is a win for the positive campaign and a stunning rebuke of the traditional negative campaign. While his main opponents strayed into negative tactics, Mr. Iveson’s campaign avoided the taunts by focusing on remaining positive and optimistic. And it worked. This should send a strong message to voters and politicians across the land that you do not need to go negative to win.
This is a vote for the future. I spoke with many people over the past month who weren’t sure what this election was about. While “the future” and “long-term planning” aren’t sexy wedge issues like the closure of an airport or the construction of a new hockey arena, they are so much more important. Campaigns can be delivered in full-sentences. Mr. Iveson’s comprehensive platform and its focus on long-term planning differentiated him from the other candidates.
There are challenges ahead. As mayor, Mr. Iveson will have to build a team on a city council with six new faces. Any successful mayor understands that they are only one vote of thirteen on council. Balancing progressive voices like re-elected councillors Ben Henderson and Amarjeet Sohi and newly-elected Michael Walters and Scott McKeen, along with moderate conservatives like Michael Oshry and fiscal hawks like Mike Nickel could be a challenge.
Building a strong region will be critical to moving Edmonton forward and new opportunities exist for the Capital Region Board with new mayors Tom Flynn in Sturgeon County, Lisa Holmes in Morinville, and Roxanne Carr in Strathcona County. Regional cooperation on planning and development, as well as service delivery, are areas where the capital region could see progress over the next four years.
Solving the fiscal challenges facing Alberta’s cities will also be difficult. The provincial government needs to be convinced that Alberta’s cities require additional resources and responsibilities to address the tremendous pressures associated with fast growing populations. The introduction of City Charters could be a significant step to helping cities deal with this issue.
With the province’s most dynamic political leaders now leading our large urban municipalities, Naheed Nenshi in Calgary, Don Iveson in Edmonton, Melissa Blake in Wood Buffalo, Bill Given in Grande Prairie, and newly elected Tara Veer in Red Deer have an opportunity to pursue a strong urban agenda that the provincial government cannot ignore.
(Note: I have been happy to volunteer my personal time during the election campaign to help Don Iveson become the next mayor of Edmonton. I am ecstatic that Edmontonians have entrusted him with their votes)
With most attention focused on Edmonton’s mayoral election, it is important to remember there are a number of contest for City Council that could produce interesting results on election day. There are seven Wards that I will be keeping a close watch on when voting ends on October 21.
With three-term councillor Kim Krushell choosing not to seek re-election, there is an open race in north Edmonton’s Ward 2 . Both Don Koziak and Bev Esslinger will have name recognition from their previous political adventures. A perennial election candidate, Mr. Koziak placed a close second behind Ms. Krushell in 2010 and has run for office many times in the past, including as the Edmonton-Glenora Wildrose candidate in the 2012 provincial election and the mayoral election in 2007. Ms. Esslinger is known from her time as a public school trustee and as last year’s unsuccessful Progressive Conservative candidate in Edmonton-Calder. Candidate Nita Jalkanen could also play a factor in this race as a vocal opponent of the downtown arena project.
Is first-term councillor Dave Loken politically vulnerable? Challenger David Dodge hopes so. The low-profile Mr. Loken is facing a strong challenge from Mr. Dodge, the former president of the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues. Mr. Loken has an incumbent advantage, but it could be a close race.
Sixteen candidates have entered this race to represent north central Edmonton’s core neighbourhoods. Public school trustee Heather Mackenzie, former Edmonton Journal columnist Scott McKeen, police offcer Dexx Williams and community league president Derrick Forsythe are who I would pick as leaders of the pack. But leading the pack might not be enough. Many of the candidates in this race can expect to receive a few hundred votes each by simply being on the ballot, which could siphon votes away from the front-runners.
Filling Don Iveson‘s shoes in Ward 10 will be a tall order (both literally and figuratively). Community organizer Michael Walters has been pounding the pavement and waging a well-financed campaign for months. As a past provincial election candidate, Mr. Walters also has name recognition in the area. He is facing challenges from university instructor Richard Feehan and businessman Hafis Devji, but they may have a difficult time catching up. My prediction: Mr. Walters’ sweeps Ward 10 on October 21.
Who will replace Kerry Diotte in Ward 11? Hoping to leverage his name recognition and local outrage over potholes, two-time mayoral candidate and former city councillor Mike Nickel is attempting to stage a political comeback, but he is not alone. Mixed martial arts company owner Harvey Panesar(watch his video below), retired citizenship judge Sonia Bitar, and Mujahid Chak could be the biggest obstacles to Mr. Nickel’s return to politics.
Having focused on Edmonton’s mayoral contest in last week’s edition, I decided that this week’s ‘Substance and Style’ review should focus on the City Council and School Board campaigns across the city.
A number of city council candidates have publicly released the names of campaign donors, including David Dodge in Ward 3 (list here), Heather Mackenzie (list here) and Scott McKeen in Ward 6 (link here) and Dave Colburn in Ward 7 (list here). Mr. Colburn has taken the unusual step of refusing to accept donations from developers or unions as a matter of principle. If I have missed any others, please post in the comments section below.
School board candidates
The Edmonton Public School Board has posted video interviews with candidates competing in the nine wards across the city. Here are the two candidates contesting the election in my area, Ward D:
Election forums online Archived video from mayoral and city council candidate forums can be found on the City of Edmonton website.
Election Day is October 21, but advanced voting locations are now open in five locations across Edmonton. Three special post-secondary advanced voting locations will be open next week at NAIT, MacEwan University and the University of Alberta.
You are eligible to vote if: you present authorized identification, you are at least 18 years of age, you are a Canadian citizen, you are a resident of a ward within the city of Edmonton on Election Day, you have lived in Alberta since April 23, 2013, and you have not already voted in the current election.
With Edmonton’s election campaign in full-swing, it is easy for this political watcher to miss a moment or campaign announcement over the course of a week. At the beginning or end of each week, I plan to compile ‘Substance and Style’, a summary of some the week’s events that I may have missed. Please share a comment below if you believe I missed any important stories.
#yegvote Google Hangout Mr. Diotte will be joining Mack Male, Ryan Hastman and I for a conversation on our next #yegvote Google Hangout on Thursday, October 3 at 8:00 p.m. Visit EdmontonPolitics.com to watch the hangout and use the #yegvote hashtag on Twitter to pose questions that we can ask Mr. Diotte during the hangout.
Donor Lists Released
Ms. Leibovici released her list of donors, which showed $365,000 in donations. Mr. Iveson released his list of donors, totalling $318,772. Mr. Diotte has said that he will not release the list of his financial backers until he is legally obligated to after the election.
Leibovici goes negative
Ms. Leibovici’s campaign launched a negative attack on Mr. Iveson over the weekend. In a campaign press release, Ms. Leibovici attacked both Mr. Iveson and popular Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, claiming they are conspiring to increase the federal Goods & Services Tax by 1%. There is not any evidence that Mr. Iveson plans to raise the GST, nor is that a power any mayor actually has.
Ironically, Ms. Leibovici spoke out against the 1% cut to GST in 2007, accusing the federal government of being unfair to municipalities by refusing to give them more money to fix sidewalks and sewers.
More gutter politics
A email account operating under the fake name “Henry Frendman” is circulating copies of a a satirical column that Mr. Iveson wrote fifteen years ago for the student newspaper at the University of Alberta. The fake email quotes the obviously satirical column, titled “Workers of the World: Repose!“, and accuses Mr. Iveson of being a Marxist. “That was clearly written as a joke when I was 20 and that is what you do in campus newspapers. You write silly things to get a rise out of people,” Mr. Iveson told Metro Edmonton.
As the mayoral election gets closer and some campaigns get desperate, expect more negative campaigning.
Disappointingly, misinformation about Edmonton’s debt levels continues to penetrate the mainstream media. In a recent Edmonton Journal column, former city councillor Mike Nickel, now running in Ward 11, was referenced as claiming the city is near the top of its borrowing limit. This is simply untrue. As of 2012, the City of Edmonton has reached 52% of its borrowing as limited by the provincial government.
Karen Leibovici, councillor for southwest Edmonton’s Ward 5, is soon expected to announce her entry into the mayoral contest. On June 15, she will mark two decades since she was first elected to public office, then as Liberal MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark. She was first elected to City Council in October 2001 after her defeat in the March 2001 provincial election.
Councillor Don Iveson is also widely expected to enter the race for Mayor of Edmonton. A Draft Don Iveson for Mayor page on Facebook has popped up and attracted more than 300 supporters.
Former Edmonton Journal columnist Scott McKeen is rumoured to be preparing a run in Council’s Ward 6. With incumbent Councillor Jane Batty rumoured to be retiring, Mr. McKeen would join already declared candidates Heather Mackenzie and Kassie Russell in this central Edmonton race. This would be his second attempt at office, having unsuccessfully challenged Ward 7 Councillor Tony Caterina in 2010.
With Councillor Kerry Diotte running for Mayor, there are plenty of rumours circulating about who could run in the now vacant Ward 11. Harvey Penasar, owner of the Aggression Fighting Championship – a mixed marshal arts league – is said to be preparing a run in that ward.
In Ward 10, Zack Siezmagraff launched his campaign this morning. This is Mr. Siezmagraff’s second attempt at elected office, having run as the federal Liberal Party candidate 2011 election candidate in the sprawling rural riding of Yellowhead. Mr. Seizmagraff will face-off against community organizer Michael Walters and University instructor Richard Feehan.
University of Alberta Ph.D. student Karen Pheasant is joining the race in Edmonton Public School Board’s Ward C. With incumbent trustee Christopher Spencer not seeking re-election, there are numerous candidates in the running. Already declared are Tina Jardine and Susan Ketteringham.
As it becomes clear that poor planning and bad strategy is leaving a few current Edmonton politicians scratching their heads at how to fund this mega-project, it is becoming more likely that the downtown arena will become a top issue in the October 21, 2013 municipal elections.
On May 14, Richard Feehan will be launching his campaign in Ward 10. Mr. Feehan is an instructor at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Social Work in Edmonton and is a former vice-president of Catholic Social Services. Also running in Ward 10 is community organizer Michael Walters. Incumbent Councillor Don Iveson, has announced he will not seek re-election for City Council in Ward 10.
More than 200 people attended Mr. Walters’ campaign launch, including Ward 9 Councillor Bryan Anderson (who also recently announced his intentions to seek re-election), former Councillor Michael Phair, Edmonton-Riverview PC MLA Steven Young, former School Board Trustee Sue Huff, and past Liberal candidate Arif Khan.
Speaking to a crowd of New Democrats gathered to celebrate his more than 30-year career in politics, former MLA Ray Martin announced his intention to seek election in Edmonton Public School Board’s Ward D in this October’s municipal elections. Ward D’s current Trustee, Dave Colburn, announced he will not seek re-election.
“Once again, Edmonton’s schools in the urban core are in the crosshairs of PC budget cuts.” said Mr. Martin said in a press release this morning. “It’s time for Edmontonians to stand up for these schools and neighbourhoods and I’ll be happy to take that fight to the board and to the PC government.”
If political candidates earned Air Miles for each time they ran in an election, Mr. Martin would be the New Democratic Party’s resident globetrotter. Having served as his party’s provincial leader and leader of the Official Opposition from 1984 to 1993, Mr. Martin has become his party’s most well-known standard bearer over the past thirty-years (at least).
First elected as MLA for Edmonton-Norwood from 1982 to 1993, Mr. Martin returned to provincial politics in 2004, serving as Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview‘s MLA until 2008. Between his times in provincial politics, Mr. Martin was an elected trustee representing Ward D and was a perennial federal NDP candidate in Edmonton. Most recently, Mr. Martin ran as the NDP candidate in Edmonton-East in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections and in Edmonton-Glenora in the 2012 provincial election.
Writer and local activist Mimi Williams has announced her plans to challenge Councillor Tony Caterina in Ward 7 (Councillor Caterina is expected to seek re-election). A long-time NDP activist, Ms. Williams made her announcement at the NDP provincial council held last weekend in Edmonton. Her previous electoral experience includes runs for Edmonton Public School Board in 1995 and City Council in 1998, 2001, and 2004. Ms. Williams is expected to officially launch her campaign later this year.
Elections Alberta has released the financial disclosure forms submitted by candidates who ran in the April 2012 provincial election and some of the disclosure forms reveal some interesting information about how much money was fundraised and spent during the campaign. The money spent by candidates and political parties in Alberta elections are nowhere near the truckloads being spent south of the border in advance of November’s presidential and senate elections, but some of these numbers demonstrate how pitched some electoral battles were in the recent provincial election. Although money cannot replace hard-working candidates and dedicated volunteers, it makes available resources that can, in many cases, make a big difference in pushing a candidate to electoral success.
It appears that the most expensive race between two candidates was in Calgary-Elbow, where Premier Alison Redford faced Wildrose Party challenger James Cole. While Premier Redford’s campaign spent a massive $154,345.53, Mr. Cole’s campaign was not far behind, spending $123,647 during the election period.
South of Calgary in the Highwood constituency, the campaign of Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith (named Marlaina Danielle Smith by Elections Alberta) spent only $55,010.97 compared to the $90,706.19 spent by the campaign of Tory challenger John Barlow.
In the hotly-contested constituency of Calgary-Acadia, Wildrose challenger Richard Jones spent 69,335.39 on his unsuccessful campaign to unseat Justice Minister Jonathan Denis, whose campaign spent $71,246.45. Airdrie MLA Rob Anderson, who crossed the floor to the Wildrose Party in 2010, saw his campaign spend $77,295.20, which dwarfed the $32,411 spent by the campaign of his main challenger Kelly Hegg.
In the long-time Liberal-held Edmonton-Gold Bar constituency, Tory David Dorward‘s campaign spent $77,732.39, NDP Marlin Schmidt‘s spent $38,400.73, and Liberal Josipa Petrunic‘s spent $33,079.39. The contest was won by Mr. Dorward, who was elected with 33% of the vote. In Calgary-McCall, Liberal MLA Darshan Kang‘s campaign spent $82,629.80 to ward off challengers Tory Muhammad Rasheed and Wildroser Grant Galpin, whose campaigns spent $87,327.25 and $27,695.12.
In Edmonton-Rutherford, Tory Health Minister Fred Horne‘s $108,327.30 campaign easily outspent a wide field of challengers. Former Liberal MLA Rick Miller‘s campaign spent $41,117.36, the campaign of Alberta Party candidate Michael Walters spent $30,085.18, and Wildrose challenger Kyle Mcleod‘s campaign spent $23,477.51.
In many cases, the Tory MLA’s vastly outspent their main challengers (which in most cases, was the local Wildrose candidate). In Calgary-Greenway, Tory Manmeet Bhullar‘s campaign spent $133,294 against challenger Ron Leech‘s $14,078.05 campaign. In Fort McMurray-Conklin, the campaign of first-time Tory candidate Don Scott spent $110,955.44 to Wildroser Doug Faulkner‘s $21,011.41. In Edmonton-Whitemud, Tory cabinet minister Dave Hancock‘s campaign spent $121,233.35 to Wildrose challenger Ian Crawford‘s $11,598.73. In Calgary-West, Tory candidate Ken Hughes‘ campaign spent $111,796.33 compared to $31,781.49 from Wildrose challenger Andrew Constantinidis.
In some cases, outspending a challenge made little difference for incumbent Tory MLAs. In Chestermere-Rockyview, Energy Minister Ted Morton‘s campaign spent $159,618.90 compared to Wildrose challenger Bruce McAllister‘s $48,062.69. Mr. McAllister defeated Minister Morton on election night.
There were some other surprising finds as well. In Lethbridge-West, the campaign of NDP candidate Shannon Phillips spent $48,852.88 compared to PC MLA Greg Weadick‘s $39,394.54. This was also the NDP’s best showing outside of Edmonton.
The ‘Maurice Tougas Award for Electoral Victory on a Shoestring Budget’ goes to Wildrose MLA Jeff Wilson, who was elected in Calgary-Shaw for the first time in April 2012. Mr. Wilson was one of the last Wildrose Party candidates to be nominated and defeated Tory star candidate Farouk Adatia, who outspent the Wildrose challenger $78,347 to $15,358. Less extreme cases took place across central and southern Alberta, where Wildrose candidates were elected in long-time Tory voting constituencies.
The award is named after writer Maurice Tougas, who served as the Liberal MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark from 2004 to 2008. Mr. Tougas’ campaign spent $5,366.55 in his last minute campaign against Tory MLA Bob Maskell, whose campaign spent $46,957.00. Mr. Tougas unseated Mr. Maskell on election night.
Note: I had hoped that I would be able to provide a more comprehensive list of numbers from the financial disclosure. Unfortunately, the unfriendly interfaced used by Elections Alberta on their website did not allow me the time to complete this. Rather than transferring the data into easily searchable and useable formats on their website, Elections Alberta provides PDFs of scanned paper forms which were completed in handwriting by the candidate’s Chief Financial Officers (the writing ranges from chicken-scratch to cursive). It is my hope that in the near future, Elections Alberta is able to build a more user-friendly website that allows Albertans to more easily access these important records.
Over the course of the election campaign, I have identified candidates from all the political parties who would be good MLA’s in the next Legislature. Out of the group of more than 400 Albertans seeking office in the 2012 general election, I have chosen six candidates who I personally believe would make excellent additions to Alberta’s public life and I wholeheartedly and enthusiastically endorse.
Shannon Phillips in Lethbridge-West
Shannon Phillips is a dynamo who would bring new energy to the opposition benches as an MLA. With the two main conservative parties poised to sweep most of the province, the smart and politically savvy Ms. Phillips would bring a strong voice for her constituents on the floor of the Assembly.
Michael Walters in Edmonton-Rutherford
Michael Walters understands how to connect with and engage with large groups of people, which is a critical skill for anyone holding public office. As a seasoned community organizer and a quick learner, Mr. Walters’ would be a strong and refreshing voice to Alberta politics.
David Swann in Calgary-Mountain View
If you are troubled by the lack of honesty and integrity in politics, then David Swann is someone that you want in Alberta’s Legislative Assembly. Not a traditional politician, Dr. Swann is a voice of reason and calm in a political culture increasingly filled with blind partisanship.
David Eggen in Edmonton-Calder
From 2004 to 2008, David Eggen was one of the most effective opposition voices on the Assembly floor. Since 2008, he used the skills he honed in the opposition benches to become a strong defender of public medicare. He is a hard worker and Alberta politics will be better if Mr. Eggen returns to the Assembly.
Sue Huff in Edmonton-Glenora
Sue Huff provides a perfect example of how politics can be done differently in Alberta. As a trustee on Edmonton’s public school board, she maintained a positive tone while effectively advocating against the closure of core neighbourhood schools (a heated topic). As acting leader of the Alberta Party in 2011, she brought her positive tone to the provincial level. Hers is an effective voice that would bring a welcome change to the floor of the Assembly.
Ian Urquhart for Senate
Every few years in Alberta, we elect a non-elected position called a Senate Nominee (or Senator-in-Waiting). These elections have been held since the late 1980s in hopes that one day the appointed Upper House of Parliament in Ottawa will become elected. No matter what you believe about the Canadian Senate, this election is an opportunity to send a message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Ottawa Conservative Party that Albertans are not to be taken granted for. This is why I will be casting my ballot for Ian Urquhart.
A professor of political science at the University of Alberta, Dr. Urquhart was one of my favourite instructors during my time as a student. His candidacy gives political moderates and centre-left voters of all stripes an option other than refusing to vote or spoiling their Senate ballots at the polls.