Photo: Don Iveson (standing centre-right) with mayoral challengers Fahad Mughal, Bob Ligertwood, Don Koziak and Carla Frost (sitting left to right). Photo source: screenshot of CBC online video
Any illusions that we could see a mayoral horserace in 2017 were extinguished at yesterday’s lunch-hour mayoral all-candidates forum.
Delivering their four minute introductory speeches in front of a group of roughly 120 people in the cavernous Shaw Conference Centre, it became fairly clear, fairly quickly, that none of the 12 candidate challenging Don Iveson in next month’s election have the skills, experience or even temperament to be a successful mayor.
For the most part, the challengers delivered incoherent remarks, with many focusing on fringe issues that may have an audience on the internet, but don’t appear to have much traction off-screen. While some of them are earnest in their bids, the lack of experience and familiarity on municipal issues among the challengers was apparent.
Iveson’s most high-profile challenger, perennial candidate Don Koziak, was unable to deliver a coherent speech in the four minutes made available to him. Instead, Koziak clumsily reminisced about the issues from his previous unsuccessful campaigns for city council without touching on his thoughts on the issues in this election, aside from bizarrely musing that “there will always be homeless people because there will always be people lining up for free homes.”
Two of the candidates, Carla Frost and Bob Ligertwood, had a weird confrontation on stage. An official from the Elections office apparently gave them a talking-to off stage before the speeches began.
Fahad Mughal, who was the first candidate to enter the race against Iveson, was likely the best prepared of the challengers, though his campaign promises and criticisms of the incumbent do little to actually differentiate himself from the pack. I feel that Mughal could have a future in municipal politics, perhaps as a City Council candidate in 2021.
If first impressions matter the most, the 12 candidates challenging Iveson should be thankful there were only 120 people in the room watching the speeches, because there was little to be impressed about.
For his part, Iveson does not appear to be taking the lack of serious challengers for granted. He and his team are campaigning and have released a series of policies dealing with energy transition and climate change, building design and transportation infrastructure, and transparency at City Hall.
Unless something major changes between now and October 16, 2017, Iveson should cruise to a sizeable re-election.
That said, if politics has been characterized by one thing in the last 5 years, it is that an even a very unlikely outcome is still always possible.
Mayoral candidates will take the stage again and be given a chance to answer questions at two upcoming forums sponsored by Elections Edmonton:
City-wide Mayoral Forum
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Harry Ainlay Composite High School
4350-111 Street NW
City-wide Mayoral Forum
Wednesday, October, 11, 2017
Italian Cultural Center
14230-133 Avenue NW
Note: I am a supporter of Don Iveson and played an active volunteer role in his election campaigns for city council in 2007 and 2010 and his successful bid for mayor in 2013. I do not have an active role in his re-election campaign this year.
Edmonton Elections is organzing all-candidate forums in each of the city’s twelve wards and for the mayoral election and Edmonton’s Next Gen committee is organizing socials for young Edmontonians in advance of each of the council forums.