Alberta Politics

How to break from the pack in a 32 candidate by-election race

A map of Edmonton's Ward 12.
A map of Edmonton’s Ward 12.

Thirty-two candidates will be listed on the ballot in the Feb. 22 by-election to fill Edmonton City Council’s Ward 12. With this many candidates on the ballot, it could be challenging for voters to choose who would best represent them on city council. It will also be challenging for those 32 candidates to break from the pack and distinguish themselves with less than a month until election day.

Here are some ways these 32 candidates might break from pack.

Name recognition

Nav Kaur Ward 12 edmonton by election
Nav Kaur

Having voters who already recognize your name will be an advantage for some candidates, as long as that recognition is positive. Because there are no formal political parties at the municipal level, all candidates will be running on their own names.

  • Laura Thibert has been the Catholic School Board Trustee from the area since 2010 and was briefly nominated as a Wildrose Party candidate before the 2015 election.
  • Balraj Manhas has been spokesperson for the United Cabbies during the recent city council debates about allowing Uber to operate in Edmonton. He  was disqualified as a candidate in a Progressive Conservative nomination contest in early 2015.
  • Mohinder Banga was briefly a candidate for the federal Conservative nomination in Edmonton-Mill Woods in 2015 before being disqualified.
  • Don Koziak has run in at least eight municipal and provincial elections since 1995, including the mayoral race in 2007 and briefly in 2010, but he has never run as a candidate in this area of the city. He was the Wildrose Party candidate in Edmonton-Glenora in 2012 and 2015.
  • Mike Butler ran as a Liberal and New Democratic Party candidate in this area in various provincial and federal elections since 2008. In 2014, he wrote an open letter explaining why he was leaving the Liberals to join the Alberta Party.
  • Arundeep Singh Sandhu was until a few months ago the Vice-President of Organization of the Progressive Conservative Party.
  • Andrew Gorman ran for city council in Ward 9 in the 2013 election, as did Dan “Can Man” Johnstone in Ward 10.

Door Knocking/Canvassing

Irfan Chaudhry Edmonton Ward 12 byelection
Irfan Chaudhry

There is no better way to identify your supporters and meet voters than showing up on their doorstep and ringing their doorbell. If you are a voter who lives in Ward 12, there is a very real possibility that you might have 32 different candidates knocking on your door before Feb. 22, 2016. Don’t be surprised to see candidates waving to traffic at busy intersections during rush hour, shaking hands at Tim Horton’s or showing up in droves at any community event before Election Day.

All-Candidate Meetings

There are already numerous all-candidate forums being organized by different community groups and organizations in Ward 12. With 32 candidates in the race, there might be little value in holding traditional question and answer forums, which will be time consuming, lengthy and uninteresting. Other candidate meeting formats, like the speed dating-style events held in the 2013 election, might prove to be more valuable for candidates and voters.

The City of Edmonton is not hosting an official all-candidates forum during this by-election. The Women’s Advocacy Voice of Edmonton is hosting a forum on Feb. 5, 2016 at the Mill Woods Seniors and Multicultural Centre and the Mill Woods Presidents’ Council is hosting a forum on Feb. 17, 2016 at J. Percy Page High School.

Getting ahead of the issues

Preet Toor Ward 12 Edmonton byelection
Preet Toor

It is always difficult to determine what the defining issue of any election campaign will be, but that will not stop candidates from trying to get ahead of issues that are on the radar of voters in Ward 12.

  • A number of candidates, including Nav Kaur, Balraj Manhas, Mohinder Banga, Arundeep Sandhu and Danisha Bhaloo, called on council to delay the vote on the new bylaw to govern vehicle-for-hire businesses that would include Uber until after the by-election. Nav Kaur outlined her position on her campaign blog.
  • Sam Jhajj is hosting an open house at his campaign office to discuss and provide input into developing policies that can prevent domestic violence.
  • Three candidates are calling on the city to delay construction of LRT to southeast Edmonton. Don Koziak told CBC that money going toward LRT would be better spent improving the city’s roads and intersections. Dan Johnston told that he would delay all future LRT construction. Kelly Kadla told the Edmonton Journal he wants a moratorium on the Valley LRT Line.


Arundeep Sandhu Edmonton By-election ward 12
Arundeep Sandhu

Gimmicks might not be the best word, but candidates should be expected to use different tactics to get attention for themselves and the issues they are focusing on during this campaign.

  • Nicole Szymanowka earned media attention for using the dating app Tinder as a campaign tool.
  • Irfan Chaudhry and his supporters are sporting flashy yellow toques with his campaign hashtag #irFANclub.
  • Nav Kaur tweeted her bus trip from her Mill Woods home to City Hall to demonstrate the need for improved public transit service to southeast Edmonton.
  • Nick Chamchuk is pledging not to use campaign signs and is encouraging his supporters to use the #‎YEGnoelectionsigns‬ hashtag on Twitter and Facebook. He wrote on Facebook that this is part of this campaign “to give Mother nature a break, make driving safer and more enjoyable, save resources and my daughter’s education fund…”
  • Stephen Wutzke told the Edmonton Journal that if he is elected he will donate $20,000 of his annual salary to the Edmonton Food Bank.
  • Jason Bale announced on his website that he will only spend $100 on his campaign to make a point about money in politics. In lieu of lawn signs, he is asking supporters to write ‘100’ in the snow in front of their homes and businesses.


Endorsements from prominent community members will not win an election but they can lend credibility to candidates and their campaigns.

  • Nav Kaur has received the endorsements of Edmonton-Ellerslie MLA Rod Loyola, outspoken Catholic School Trustee Patricia Grell, Public School Board Trustee Michael Janz, former city councillor Michael Phair and recent federal Liberal candidate Beatrice Ghettuba.
  • Danisha Bhaloo has received the endorsement of former Progressive Conservative MLA and former mayor Stephen Mandel, former Edmonton-Glenora PC MLA Heather Klimchuk and former Ward 5 city council candidate Dan St. Pierre, who is serving as her official agent.
  • Laura Thibert has an endorsement from fellow Catholic Trustee Debbie Engel.
  • Don Koziak has the support of former MP and MLA Brent Rathgeber, who is serving as his official agent.

The 32 candidates in Ward 12

Here is the list of candidates who have registered their intentions to run, along with links to their websites and social media accounts. I will be posting any updates to the Ward 12 by-election webpage.

When to vote?
Voting stations will be open in Ward 12 on Feb. 22 from 9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Advance polls are open at the Meadows Community Recreation Centre on Feb. 8, 9, 10 and 11 from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

15 replies on “How to break from the pack in a 32 candidate by-election race”

Sorry, but my stance on wasteful roadside election signs is not a “gimmick”, but a sincere position based on fiscal restraint in tough times and a genuine concern for the environment. I also have 1 recycled piece of paper as propaganda, and put it in folk’s mailbox, not their step, yard, birdhouse, smoking tin, or car wiper, as I’ve seen the others do repeatedly.

Also, I’ve knocked on more doors than all of these bozos combined, including Chaudry.

And often all I have to do is mention “a STARS career spanning 20 years, and folks say, you had me at STARS”. I do tell them about my platform, cuz I’ve had one since day 1.

Calling your fellow candidates “bozos” shows how completely unready and unfit for office you are. Thanks for letting us all know.

“Bozos” is a term taken from voters who are tired of politicians lying, cheating, nudging signs anywhere they can, in improper locations to get an advantage. Hard work is rewarded by voters, and Albertans, while laziness is rejected. I’ve worked very hard, left a well-paying job with STARS to run full-time, while Thibert and others grip their day jobs with vice-grip strength, in case they lose…they can just zip right back, whereas I’ll have to start from the bottom again, as it should be. We’ll ALL see on Feb. 22, 2016, who had the best, most frugal, yet effective campaign–who worked the hardest! Other descriptions i could have used are found in a Steeler’s Wheel song (clowns…jokers). Sorry if it sounds “mean”.
Nick for 12

How many have a plan for how the city should be governed or are most running because there is a substantial salary for a council member?

Lay out your plan to show voters you have some ideas.

Just a slight clarification. The Ware 12 Candidate Forum being held on Feb 17 is hosted by the Mill Woods Presidents’ Council, not the Mill Woods Residents’ council.

Forget about voting for an NDP candidate, the NDP just caved in to Big Oil and refused to raise royalty rates. This was the only chance the province had of getting more return on oil revenues, and Notley crew blew it.

The NDP went completely supine and fetal. They are spineless.

I am a Federal Liberal and have not left that party Dave. I left the Raj Sherman party due to lack of democracy. I am still Liberal in principle. And I get you are NDP so thank you for doing such good reporting and letting me use your blog. Have a good one Dave. Keep up the great work.

Hi Dave

Love your site. Sorry I didn’t get you more information sooner. I work for the federal government and the procedures for getting permission to run are daunting. I’d like to think I’m in the name recognition group. Many Ward 12 residents know me from my community work, service work, long running community blog on INews880, or my previous run for Councillor for Ward 6.

My website is being built as we speak. If you would like to chat some time, drop me a line. Thanks for what you do.

Terry J. McKinnon

Danisha Bhaloos campaign is being run by Catherine Keill who is a senior PC Party Vice President and candidate in the last election. I hate partisanship in municipal elections.

Thank you Dave, I love your site. I have known Mohinder Banga for 3 years now. I sat down with him many times. His kindness, and attention to people is what impressed me the most. Yes, I can tell you he has a bachelor’s degree, 24 years as a police officer, 15 years of educating students on drug awareness. I could go on and on….but really… we also need a person that understands budgeting and finance. His education will play a role on these matters. I trust this man. He is open and approachable. Apart from being a great spokesman, he is a leader ! I am not just”hoping” he wins. I want him to WIN!

Moe is an hero with the police, but an environmental and wasteful sign and flyer criminal, if you believe Ward 12 voters, which I do. He is among front-runners who think you can buy an election, and peeps are tired of it. Lots of signs with no permission on private property, and confiscated signs from stings by yours truly, calling 311 numerous times to report cheaters!

Candidates, don’t cheat on signs, as they will be outlawed soon, for safety, aesthetic, and environmental reasons. Nav Kaur sent an email to gang of 32, who have email addresses, asking for a truce after election day to clean up Ward 12. What a farce, as she is a worst offender, with Sandhu, Patel, and Sheoran, with honorable mention to Balras, Gorman, Field for 12, Ho, and Bhaloo, for illegal placement.

You know who hasn’t cheated…me. I haven’t had to lie ONCE, about party support and union dough, Kaur, yes you, lied at last debate, to everyone’s face (75 in crowd, so just a little lie, i guess). Media has disappeared, as if they were ever interested (…with sooo many people involved) I wanna barf. I have 12 signs strategically placed to entice the subliminal mind, not the easily-dismissed conscious mind.

If it appears I’ve been mean, or libelous, ask yourself, “How come nobody has sued me, or threatened suits?”. Because I can prove it–I take pictures of offences, a little hobby of mine, for my election scrapbook. Voters I’ve asked WANT me to hold others to task over honesty and legal issues, as a seat on City Council is in the balance!!!

Nick Chamchuk, your Natural Choice for Ward 12 City Councillor

Chamchuk seems to be suffering from an overdose of narcissism…….. it’s all me, me, me ! I hope either Bhaloo or Kaur wins tonight (but Sandhu and Banga are still sensible choices). It will be an interesting fight…… thanks to Dave for his commentary.

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