Tag Archives: Sonia Bitar

7 City Council races to watch in Edmonton

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.

Andrew Knack Edmonton Ward 1

Andrew Knack

Ward 1
After three-terms, councillor Linda Sloan  announced only weeks before the nomination day that she would not seek re-election. This must have been a big surprise to her lone-challenger Andrew Knack, who had already been campaigning for months. This is Mr. Knack’s third attempt at winning a city council seat and he is not unchallenged. Health economist Bryan Sandilands, community activist Jamie Post, past-Wildrose Alliance candidate Sharon Maclise, and former CTV reporter Sean Amato have also entered the race. I suspect Mr. Knack’s head-start could be hard to overcome.

Ward 2
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.

David Dodge Edmonton Ward 3

David Dodge

Ward 3
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.

Ward 5
The race to replace four-term councillor Karen Leibovici has drawn a crowd. Businessman Michael Oshry, former City Hall insider Terry Demers, transit worker Allan Santos, community league president Rob Hennigar, beer man Jim Gibbon, and former Catholic schools trustee Rudy Arcilla are among the nine candidates. My money is on the cool and confident Mr. Oshry.

Heather Mackenzie Edmonton Ward 6

Heather Mackenzie

Ward 6
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.

Ward 10
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.

Ward 11
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.

Edmonton election Substance and Style #2

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.

Aboriginal issues
Ward 6 candidate Kyle Brown wants to bring Aboriginal issues to the civic discussion. This is important, because by 2017 Edmonton is expected to have the largest urban aboriginal population in Canada.

Michael Walters Edmonton Ward 10 election

Michael Walters

Ward issues
CBC reporter Steve Finkelman reports on a day spent doorknocking with Ward 11 candidate Sonia Bitar. Ward 10 candidate Michael Walters focused on arts and culture in a blog post this week. And with 15 candidates in the running, urban sprawl was a hot topic at last night’s forum in Ward 6.

In Ward 3, incumbent councillor Dave Loken was endorsed by retiring Ward 2 councillor Kim Krushell.

Surveys
A significant part of a candidate’s time during an election is spent answering surveys from community organizations and advocacy groups. The Local Good has published responses to their candidate surveys, as has the Professional Arts Coalition of Edmonton and the Edmonton Public Library.

Donor transparency
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.

Covering the media
Mack Male has published a round-up of how Edmonton’s media companies are offering civic election coverage.

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:

Elizabeth Johannson:

Ray Martin:

Election forums online
Archived video from mayoral and city council candidate forums can be found on the City of Edmonton website.

Advanced voting
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.

Who is your candidate?
Not sure who the candidates are? Browse through this list of candidates and their social media links.

Karen Leibovici launches Mandel 2013 campaign

Karen Leibovici Edmonton

Karen Leibovici

Councillor Karen Leibovici launched her campaign for mayor of Edmonton at a press conference this morning at the CKUA building in downtown Edmonton. The four-term city councillor kicked-off her campaign by delivering a speech that sounded as if it should have been delivered by outgoing Mayor Stephen Mandel, had he decided to seek re-election in this October’s election.

She echoed Mayor Mandel’s oft-heard comment that Edmontonians should not settle for “good-enough” and spent much of her speech praising his progress on infrastructure, transportation and arts issues over the past nine-years.

While Councillor Leibovici spoke about continuing along the current path laid by the mayor, she gave little explanation as to what she would do to build upon the ambitious past nine years. She did talk about the need to return to “bread and butter issues,” and was overly cautious not to criticize the outgoing mayor, vaguely responding that she only wanted to do better on some issues.

It is no surprise that Councillor Leibovici is trying to position herself as the heir to the current mayor. She is expected to have the backing of a swath of Edmonton’s political establishment, including the mayor’s former deputy chief of staff Catherine Keill, now an employee of Hill & Knowlton, and veteran Progressive Conservative Party campaign manager Hal Danchilla, who is rumoured to be a key strategist. Her campaign is also sending a message that it is well-financed, as demonstrated by the slick branding and glossy media kits handed out at her press conference.

Karen Leibovici GQ

Slick branding: The Three Leibovici’s.

She also used her remarks to target one of her competitors. “Edmonton needs a mayor with experience, one who doesn’t reduce significant issues to one-liners,” she told reporters, taking an obvious direct shot at Councillor Kerry Diotte.

Councillor Leibovici will be a formidable contender for the mayor’s chair, bringing with her 27 years of election campaign experience at the provincial and municipal levels.

After two unsuccessful runs as a Liberal Party candidate in the 1986 and 1989 provincial elections, Leibovici was first elected as the MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark in the 1993 provincial election. She was re-elected as MLA in 1997 and in 1998 she placed third in the Liberal Party’s leadership contest, behind former Tory cabinet minister Nancy MacBeth and Lethbridge MLA Ken Nicol. She was elected to City Council less than a year after the Liberal Party’s rout in the 2001 provincial election, of which she was a surprising casualty. She was re-elected to City Council in 2004, 2007, and 2010.

Edmonton’s last mayor with any lengthy amount of prior elected experience was Jan Reimer, who served three-terms on City Council before being elected as mayor in 1989. Mayor Bill Smith had only run for elected office once before his win and Mayor Mandel served only one-term on Council before being elected as mayor in 2004.

More council candidates enter the fray

Past provincial Liberal Party candidate Arif Khan is expected to run in Councillor Leibovici’s soon-to-be-incumbentless Ward 5. The Edmonton-based consultant placed second to Tory Steven Young in Edmonton-Riverview in the 2012 vote.

Citizenship judge Sonia Bitar and former Edmonton City Councillor Mike Nickel announced their candidacies in southeast Edmonton’s Ward 11. Edmontonians may remember Mr. Nickel from his unsuccessful mayoral bids in 1998 and 2001, and his one-term on city council from 2004 to 2007. In 2007, Mr. Nickel was unseated by Don Iveson in southwest Edmonton’s sprawling former Ward 5.

Councillor Iveson is expected to enter the mayoral race before the end of the month.

See an updated list of declared election candidates here.