Alberta Politics

Mayoral election a race between Don Iveson and Kerry Diotte

It has become clear to this political watcher that Edmonton’s mayoral election has become a race between two candidates with distinct competing visions for Edmonton. And those two candidates are Don Iveson and Kerry Diotte.

Don Iveson Edmonton Mayor Election
Don Iveson

Don Iveson has positioned himself as the candidate who is looking beyond the status-quo and planning for Edmonton’s future. His thoughtful and forward-looking approaches to innovation, housing choice and infill development, light-rail transit, partnerships with capital region partners and critical infrastructure issues are the most comprehensive policies released by any mayoral candidate.

Mr. Iveson’s growing campaign is built on a foundation of solid ideas and driven a feeling of excitement about the  opportunities available to Edmonton in the future. And with less than two weeks remaining in the election campaign, he needs to continue building positive momentum and avoid being distracted by attacks from his opponents.

Kerry Diotte Edmonton Mayor Election
Kerry Diotte

Kerry Diotte’s four key issues – potholes, snow removal, spending and debt – have been the consistent focus of his campaign since the summer. The well-known former journalist’s message is appealing to a significant number of Edmontonians who feel disenchanted and disconnected from the city’s establishment and the decisions made at City Hall over the past nine years.

While Mr. Diotte would like to return Edmonton to where it was before Stephen Mandel became mayor, he has shown little evidence that he has the ability to build a coalition on city council in order to achieve his goals.

In the closing days of the campaign, expect Mr. Diotte to focus on wedge issues that will fire up his base of supporters (read: government spending and bike lanes). I would not be surprised if he tries to channel Rob Ford, who rocketed to office in Toronto by focusing on the issues that appealed to disenchanted voters in that city’s suburban communities.

Karen Leibovici Edmonton Mayor Election
Karen Leibovici

Once perceived as the frontrunner in this race, Karen Leibovici has adopted a thick negative tone since a poll commissioned by the Edmonton Journal showed her in a distant third-place behind Mr. Iveson and Mr. Diotte. While the career politician has released decent position statements, these ideas have been overshadowed by her continued attacks on Mr. Iveson.

Ms. Leibovici’s declaration that Edmonton will “grind to a halt” if she is not elected mayor is comical and insulting. Edmontonians have enough common sense to know that the fate of civilization is not tied to the success of Karen Leibovici’s political career.

Ms. Leibovici’s uninspiring campaign is disappointing, because I do think she would be a competent administrator. Unfortunately, with her campaign showing little sign of upward momentum, it has become clear that Ms. Leibovici’s has decided that her only path to victory is by demonizing her opponents.

Edmontonians have two clear choices when they visit the polls on October 21: we can either move forward as a city with Don Iveson or move backward by focusing on the bare basics with Kerry Diotte.

Editor’s note

Thanks for all the comments and responses. Not surprisingly, this post has sparked some interest in the campaign and has become one of the most well-read during this election.

I took a little heat on twitter from supporters of some mayoral candidates and from Edmonton Journal blogger David Staples, who, in a blog post implied that this website is an extension of Don Iveson’s campaign.

I want to be clear: there is no conspiracy. I wrote this post on my own accord. My blog includes my opinion and does not have any input from any political campaign. I have been publishing for eight years and, similar to the role of columnist working at the Edmonton Journal, I use this space as an opportunity to publish opinions and observations that are my own.

But when it comes to my support in the October 21 election, Don Iveson is the clear choice in my mind and I am happy to lend my support to his campaign. I have publicly stated my support on this blog and during the #yegvote Google Hangout.

25 replies on “Mayoral election a race between Don Iveson and Kerry Diotte”

i don’t see any solid evidence suggesting that Leibovici is falling behind. that EJ poll that you referenced is a little dated, plus it showed Leibovici and Diotte neck-and-neck behind Iveson, not in “distant third-place” as you wrote. everything else is an impression or feeling

overall, i found your article overly critical and negative of Leibovici, overly positive of Iveson, and fairly astute wrt Diotte

Did you really just use the phrase “career politician” as a pejorative epithet? It ought not be. I think Steve is correct.

I think trying to sway the undecideds to vote for Iveson by writing off the Leibovici campaign is what’s comical and insulting. This post just reeks of desperation.

Thanks for the comment.

@Steve Ricketts, I use the Journal poll as a marker in time to identify when Ms. Leibovici’s campaign began adopting a more negative tone.

@David harrigan, I think for most people, the term “politician” is pejorative. Ms. Leibovici constantly refers to her experience in office, so I figured recognizing her as a career politicians fits with that theme.

@Adam, I’m not writing Ms. Leibovici off completely. With 12 days left, any of the three candidates could arguably still win this election and in the article above I articulate what I think are their paths to victory. The difference is that Iveson and Diotte have presented two clearly distinct visions for Edmonton. I’ve been paying very close attention to this campaign for months and I still haven’t been able to figure out what Ms. Leibovici’s vision for Edmonton is.

Diotte’s campaign is all rhetoric and no substance. He had grand plans and no conceivable way to pay for them (the cost of what he’s proposing would certainly challenge his position as a fiscal conservative). Iveson has clear policy statements, actual plans on how to better finance city expenditures and a positive, collaborative style that Diotte could never hope to emulate. Diotte at the helm will result in a divisive council and as mayor, Edmonton would lose what progress it has made to date. Hope voters do their research and pay less attention to political posturing than facts.

Nice comment. However, I seem to recall you disclosing in a past post that you are volunteering for the Iveson campaign. It would seem like a smart idea to mention that (or that you are not volunteering for any campaign) when you put forward a piece like this one. You’ve never said you’re a journalist but this column seems to use more loaded words (Iveson’s “thoughtful” positions, for example) than usual.

Hi Dave,

Leibovici has run an uninspiring campaign and you’re right to point out her only path of victory is to go negative by making herself the only alternative to Diotte, though this may backfire if she and Iveson cancel each other out allowing Diotte to come up the middle.

I live in Edmonton, have followed the race closely, and have no idea who will win. Iveson is popular, but might not get enough votes in the suburbs; Leibovici is banking on suburban votes and making Iveson unelectable (discouraging his voters); Diotte wants his base (35% or so) to be more motivated than the rest.

In the end, unless someone picks up momentum, the winner might not even get 40% or barely over it. They might all be bunched up together within 7-10%. Thanks.

“I’ve been paying very close attention to this campaign for months and I still haven’t been able to figure out what Ms. Leibovici’s vision for Edmonton is.” Exactly – me too.

Fans of irony will enjoy Leibovici attacking Iveson for being “vague”:

@Andrew – I have been surprised at the number of Iveson signs I’ve spotted in suburban areas. He might be getting wider support than his urbanist platform would indicate. Maybe being positive, professional and articulate matter.

I’ve said as much on twitter, but I must point out some flaws here too. For disclosure: While am not a volunteer or paid political staff member, I have publicly stated I will be voting for Karen Leibovici.

I think that Diotte’s support is being largely overestimated by political watchers who spend little if any time with Edmontonians outside the downtown or university areas, especially those blue collar industrial folks that are assumed to be Diotte’s base. As someone immersed with this crowd I can say confidently that Diotte’s support does not run deep and, for all his repetition of bread and butter issues, his strength is very much overestimated by those who have a somewhat limited view of Edmonton’s complete demographic. The folks that I mention above have also shown no interest in supporting Iveson because he’s come across as unable to understand their issues and the industrial base that puts food of their table and drives our economy.

Conversely, I think there may be some confusion amongst Iveson’s supporters between “support” and “momentum”. I am fully prepared to agree that Iveson has a hands down lead among decided voters. His base has been the most committed and enthusiastic even before the campaign began and will surely remain so on Election Day. But the most motivated voter base does not always equal victory. If there’s any doubt about that, just ask Danielle Smith or Adrian Dix.

In a race with 3 main contenders, wherein 2 of them are fairly polarizing and where there may be a large undecided block of voters, counting out the middle of the road candidate may serve to try and bolster the cause of one (or both) of the other two, in my experience it’s not politically sound.

It is a very interesting race. Given the absence of any quality public polling we are left to guess and surmise as to who the front runner is. That said I have to think that Leibovici’s focus on Iveson suggests he is the front runner.

I too wonder about the depth of Diottes support and doubt the 35% number that I see bandied about. I wonder if his unwillingness to release financials is more about not wanting to expose weakness than it is a position of principal.

If Mandel’s first win, Stelmach and Redford’s leadership victory, and the last Provincial election have taught me anything, it is that things can coalesce in surprising ways in the last week of an election.

Full disclosure, I have an Iveson sign on my front lawn, and hope he wins.

I was a tossup between Iveson and Diotte but after this column I’ve decided on Diotte. For someone to say government debt isn’t an issue? Wow. Out of touch socialism from the past.

I Don will be the next mayor. For years he has been thoughtful, honest, ethical and a rea honest human being. Most people are yearning for a smart intellegent candidate that choses to be beholden to families and the middle class taxpayers. The man has a spirit and a soul, honest and transparency, something lacking in politics today. He was an outstanding and principled city counselor with ethics, morality, speaks candidly and competantly. Negative attacks against him, will only boost his popularity. He is a young fresh face, a family man and has my vote. Haters are out of real ideas and are going to hand him a landslide victory. Yes, they are.

Don Iveson will win because the majority of people who might think like Diotte aren’t even going to bother to vote. I work with a large cross section of the local populous and despite there being an election sign placed every 10 inches across the whole city, people are still asking me which kind of election it is, what date it’s on and why it might matter. Diotte’s campaign depends on rednecks but rednecks can’t be bothered to vote in municipal elections. If there’s no party logo to vote for, they find it to confusing to figure out who their team is. Just look at recent turnout rates. Progressives, for better or worse, pay more attention and so Iveson will win. I happen to think that’ll be a great outcome.

Hello Dave, Thanks for taking the time to create a blog dedicated to AB politics. I think that you’ve provided clear facts and your opinion on the top 3 mayoral candidates in fair light. Folks often forget that when one has a blog or website that they CAN and should type what they think. Its often when opinions clash that you get negative comments – but at least that gets people thinking/talking who might not have otherwise acted. Keep up the good work!

I think this post is pretty accurate.
I wasn’t going to vote for Don Iveson after the flip flop on the Katz arena but I haven’t seen anything out of Mr. Diotte that would convince me to vote for him. I know what the issues are already but what will Mr. Diotte do about these issues? Common sense just doesn’t cut it. As for the other candidate–Ms. Leibovici –I have seen her at work at Edmonton City Council public hearings and I am not impressed by her skills with the public. I am sure she is a nice woman and she is capable of thoughtful commentary but my impression of Ms. Leibovici at the various hearings was that she was being patronizing (as was many of the other councillors) towards the public and their very genuine concern for agricultural land preservation in the city. I was quite frankly stunned by the way the mayor and the rest of the councillors yapped with their employers —for the most part they were denigrating the comments of citizens who were in favor of preservation of land and against unsustainable development (sprawl). I noted that Don was careful not to comment either way on the issue of agricultural land preservation but he had thoughtful comments to the developer about how the developer (Waltons) could address the concerns of citizens. I noted that Mr. Diotte kept quiet during the hearings I attended.

What I want from a mayor is someone who can bring everyone into the conversation AND the decision making process. We may not all agree on the final outcomes but we should have the ability to say our piece without being treated like children as the Mayor Mandel was wont to do–and we need to be in on the decision making process since we will be paying for it. Development is required but where? I would say in the land we already have —a fifty year supply of land that did not require that we approve the Horse Hill ASP at all. But this Horse Hill ASP and the Katz Arena were the last two bits of unsustainable development that the Mayor Mandel and his Katz Krew pushed through before we fire them.

These decisions will cost ordinary taxpayers billions–and the ones who benefit will be the developers. Should we put up with it? Nope. But I don’t think we can stop it unless we have a mayor who is able to be rational, intelligent and yes, political when required. Mr. Iveson is young but if he has good, experienced mentors–well I think he will do well. He will work capably with Mr. Dave Colburn and Ms. Heather MacKenzie who I believe will win their own wards.

The group of progressive councillors under the leadership of a young and forward thinking (but not fiscally irresponsible) mayor like Mr. Iveson will do wonders for our $19 billion infrastructure debt and perhaps lead to no more sprawl.

So overall I think Don will do good.
Ms. Leibovici for all her flush donors and billboards throughout Riverbend and the rest of the city will not get hired.
Mr. Diotte could have become mayor but he had no real platform, failed to be transparent about his donor list and really –while I admire his ethics–I have seen no evidence of his ideas and policies –what the heck are they?

It’s not enough to simply yap about issues. That is what a journalist does. What a mayor does is problem solve and unite disparate groups of people to lead them to outcomes that they are willing to invest in as a group.

And by the way, everyone in my family is voting for Don (three voters). Also my parents and sister are voting for Don (three more voters). Family by family–is how to do it–not billboard by billboard.

Full disclosure, I was disinclined to vote for Don Iveson initially because I was irritated that he would attempt to split the left vote, plus his running so young/early.

I find it amusing that so many find your comments “critical” and “insulting”. I think they are perfectly on the mark (and I note that none of them level any specific complaints, just blather like american politicians, where it is more important to be loud than to be right). I was initially inclined to vote for Karen Leibovici, but her constant negative campaigning combined with, as ashamed as I am to admit it, Lorne Gunter’s assessment, which I (/shudder) agree with, that her answer to every question is “we should set up a committee for that”, makes me wonder if she is actually interested in leadership or simply feels it her birthright. I have no doubt she would make a competent mayor, but I have little trust that she has earned my vote above anyone with an actual vision.

Financially prudent and thoughtful, Don is the most trustworthy candidate with honesty and integrity. They are all good in some ways, but Don definitely has the public appeal for the job and will fit nicely as the mayor of this city, provided the turnout is good.

I was solidly leaning towards Leibovici before the election started in earnest, though I like Iveson, too. She’s been a solid councilor and has been very responsive when I’ve had issues in my ward. I agree that it’s hard to determine what exactly her message is during this campaign and I’ve been put off by her comments in the last week or so.

Her campaign has been disappointing and surprisingly unprofessional. Doubly disappointing, because if she loses, we’ve lost a good representative on council.

Honestly, I think Edmonton will be well served if either Iveson or Leibovici win, but I’m finding fewer reasons to support her for mayor.

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