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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 daveberta.ca 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.

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Alberta Politics

Edmonton Election Substance and Style #1

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.

Substance

Don Iveson Edmonton Mayor Election
Don Iveson

Mayoral candidate Don Iveson released some thoughtful positions supporting entrepreneurs and small businessesrenewing roads and infrastructure, and taking a fresh look at how Edmonton is fundedKerry Diotte stayed away from the fray, mostly attending forums and campaign events. As for policy, he continues to focus on his four key issues – roads, debt, taxes and the arena deal. Meanwhile, Karen Leibovici released statements on transit smart cards, fast-tracking a small and medium sized business review, and clearing snow from city sidewalks for seniors.

Ward 10 council candidate Michael Walters released his eight priorities at City Hall. Ward 5 candidate Michael Oshry wrote a thoughtful blog post on municipal debt.

Kerry Diotte Edmonton Mayor Election
Kerry Diotte

#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.

Style

Karen Leibovici Edmonton Mayor Election
Karen Leibovici

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.

Debt Misinformation
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.

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Alberta Politics

PC Party tries to use mayor candidates as headliners for fundraiser

A screenshot from the Edmonton-Riverview PC Party website.
A screenshot from the Edmonton-Riverview PC Party website.

In a strange departure from the non-partisan politics of civic elections, it appeared for a moment today that three main candidates in Edmonton’s mayoral election were headlining a fundraiser for a Progressive Conservative Party constituency association. Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths was even slated as its host.

Once the event came to the attention of the general public, it appears to have fallen apart.

First, Mr. Griffiths withdrew from hosting the event, probably a wise move for a minister who will have to work with whichever candidate is elected. Then, mayoral candidate Don Iveson announced on Twitter that he was withdrawing from the forum. An organizer inside the Iveson campaign said a miscommunication led them to believe the candidate forum would  be separate of the fundraising program for the evening.

According to the Edmonton-Riverview PC Party website (see above for screenshot), mayoral candidates Kerry Diotte, Karen Leibovici and Mr. Iveson were to participate in a forum as part of a $150 per ticket fundraiser for the local PC Party association at the posh Mayfair Golf & Country Club on October 9. Visitors to the website are invited to fill out an online form to purchase tickets and receive a tax receipt for their political donation.

At the fundraiser candidates would be asked “How will the new Mayor get along with Alberta’s Progressive Conservative government?”

Outgoing mayor Stephen Mandel was critical of Premier Alison Redford‘s Tories after they implemented deep budget cuts to post-secondary institutions in this year’s provincial budget. The 2013/2014 provincial budget cut cut $147 million in funding to Alberta’s post-secondary education system. The budget cuts have forced colleges and universities across Alberta to cut staff, programs, and enrolment in order to deal with the financial shortfall.

Edmonton-Riverview is currently represented by PC MLA and Government Whip Steve Young, who was elected in last year’s election. The University of Alberta exists within the boundaries of Edmonton-Riverview and many academic staff live in the constituency.

It seems unusual that the candidates would agree to step into a partisan event in the middle of a non-partisan election campaign, but it may speak to how far each of the main three mayoral contenders  are willing to go to seek out potential voters.

Still, it is concerning to this political watcher that  the three candidates would be willing to have their names used as a  pitch for a provincial political party event. And not just any political party, the governing party.

While this could certainly raise the ire of partisans affiliated with the Wildrose, New Democrats and Liberals, after more than forty years on continuous PC Party majority governments, there is a reality that whoever gets elected will have to work with them for at least the next three years.

The Progressive Conservatives earned 40% of the vote in Edmonton and hold twelve of the capital city’s nineteen provincial constituencies (one former Tory, Edmonton-Manning MLA Peter Sandhu, now sits as an Independent). 

Update: Mr. Young announces the mayoral forum is now cancelled:

Ms. Leibovici’s campaign released the following, awkwardly worded, statement:

The only reason that we agreed to participate it because our opponents agreed to. We’re not participating. We will debate our opponents on the issues anywhere, anytime on any subject. We have more experience than they have because this election matters.

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Alberta Politics

Nomination Day: Edmonton civic election official starts today

Edmonton City Council
Edmonton City Council

Dedicated citizens across Alberta will gather this morning in town halls and community centres to submit their nomination forms to become official candidates in this year’s municipal elections.

In the capital city, the excitement is taking place at Edmonton’s downtown City Hall. With three-term Mayor Stephen Mandel not seeking re-election, three Councillors and a handful of other Edmontonians have stepped forward to fill the spot. While Don Iveson, Kerry Diotte and Karen Leibovici are the front-runners in the race, there is always the possibility of a dark-horse candidate stepping out of the shadows and jumping into the mayoral contest today.

UPDATE: The Edmonton Journal is reporting on the results of a Leger survey which shows Don Iveson with 47% of decided voters, Kerry Diotte with 28%, and Karen Leibovici with the support of 25% of decided voters. When taking undecided voters into account, the support is 20% for Councillor Iveson, 12% for Councillor Diotte, and 11% for Councillor Leibovici. While this is only one poll, and I look at all polls with skepticism, I am very surprised at how low Councillor Leibovici’s support is, considering her 20 year career as a politician in Edmonton.

Since early this year, I have maintained a list of declared nomination candidates for Council and the Public and Catholic school boards. I will have the list updated later today when the official list is released by Edmonton Elections.

There will be a few familiar faces missing from the ballot on the October 21 voting day. Six Councillors are not seeking re-election in their Wards. While this is a large turnover, it is not uncommon in recent elections. The last time Council faced such a significant turnover was in 2001, when six Councillors did not seek re-election.

Until this weekend it appeared as if Councillors Ben Henderson in Ward 8 and Amarjeet Sohi in Ward 12 would be acclaimed, but last-minute candidates have announced their intentions to challenges these incumbents. In Ward 9, Councillor Bryan Anderson remains unchallenged. If he remains unchallenged today, it will be the first time in recent memory that a City Councillor in Edmonton has been acclaimed.

#yegvote Google Hangout

Tune in to a special Nomination Day #yegvote Google Hangout tonight at 8:00 p.m. at EdmontonPolitics.com. Mack Male, Ryan Hastman and I will run down the list of candidates and give our analysis of the first official day of the election campaign.

Municipal elections in Alberta are being held on October 21, 2013.

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Alberta Politics

#yegvote Google Hangout with Steven Dollansky

After a week-long break from the world of political writing and social media, I was happy to return just in time for yesterday’s sixth edition of the #yegvote Google Hangout. This week, Ryan Hastman and I were joined by guest Steven Dollansky, who sat in for Mack Male, who could not make it this week.

In this week’s hangout, we focused on the three-main mayoral candidates – Kerry Diotte, Don Iveson, and Karen Leibovici – and how they are positioning themselves in the hotly contested race to replace outgoing Mayor Stephen Mandel.

With the election less than two months away, and nomination day on September 23, we are expecting the election to quickly heat up as candidates try to gain attention and differentiate themselves from the large pack of political hopefuls that are crowding this year’s municipal election ballots in Edmonton.

As noted by Mack in his weekly Edmonton Election round up, there are currently 6 mayoral candidates and 53 candidates for Council. Councillors Ben Henderson in Ward 8, Bryan Anderson in Ward 9, and Amarjeet Sohi in Ward 12 all remain uncontested.

To watch previous editions of the #yegvote Google Hangout, including last week’s edition with guest Kathleen Smith, visit EdmontonPolitics.com.

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Alberta Politics

#yegvote Google Hangout with Don Iveson

Last night, we had the pleasure of having Edmonton mayoral candidate Don Iveson as our special guest on the fourth #yegvote Google Hangout. Over the course of the hangout, Ryan Hastman, Mack Male, and I questioned Don on some of the hottest issues of the election campaign.

The conversation topics coverted potholes, the downtown arena project, LRT, spending and debt, the Terwillegar housing first proposal, and a few other pressing issues (like the state of the Oilers and Eskimos, and whether he prefers Star Trek or Star Wars…).

An advocate for smart growth, Don Iveson was first elected to City Council in 2007 and was re-elected in 2010. He chairs City Council’s Utility Committee and the Capital Region Board‘s Transit Committee. Don and his wife Sarah Chan, a music teacher, have a 4-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter.

We hope to have mayoral candidates Kerry Diotte and Karen Leibovici join us as guests in future #yegvote Google Hangouts.

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Alberta Politics

Councillor Linda Sloan not seeking re-election

Councillor Linda Sloan
Councillor Linda Sloan

To the surprise of many political watchers, Councillor Linda Sloan announced in a press release this morning that she will not seek re-election to Edmonton City Council in Ward 1. She had previously announced on June 28, 2013 that she would seek re-election.

A former president of the now-defunct Staff Nurses Association of Alberta, Councillor Sloan entered politics in 1997 when she was elected as the Liberal MLA in Edmonton-Riverview. She ran unsuccessfully for the Alberta Liberal Party leadership in 1998 against victor Nancy MacBeth, Lethbridge MLA Ken Nicol, and current mayoral candidate Karen Leibovici. She did not seek re-election to the Legislative Assembly in 2001.

Councillor Sloan, along with Councillors Leibovici and Ed Gibbons, are three former Liberal MLAs who were elected to city council following that party’s disastrous 2001 election results.

In 2004, Councillor Sloan was briefly nominated as the Liberal candidate in Edmonton-Meadowlark before choosing to run for City Council, to which she was elected and re-elected in 2007 and 2010.

As President of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, Councillor Sloan publicly sparred with Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths over provincial funding to municipalities.

With Councillor Sloan’s departure, the only candidate currently running in Ward 1 is Andrew Knack. UPDATE: That was quick. Within hours of Councillor Sloan’s announcement, candidate Sharon Maclise has abandoned her candidacy in the crowded Ward 6 race to now run in Ward 1.

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Alberta Politics

Beer man Jim Gibbon runs for Edmonton City Council

Jim Gibbon Edmonton City Council Ward 5
Jim Gibbon

Jim Gibbon, the founder and president of Amber’s Brewing Company, announced this week that he will run for City Council in west Edmonton’s Ward 5.

Speaking over the phone this week, the owner of the popular local craft beer company explained his reasons for wanting to run in the October 21 elections. Last year, Amber’s Brewing was forced to find a new location because of a sharp rise in rent at its former location in the Ritchie neighbourhood in south central Edmonton. Mr. Gibbon looked for a new location in Edmonton and enlisted the help of Ward 8 City Councillor Ben Henderson, who he described as being a great help.

But after meeting with city staff, who proved to be less helpful in responding to his requests to rezone a potential new location for the brewery, which could have included Petrolia Mall, he decided to look outside Edmonton. According to Mr. Gibbon, city staff told him it would take 18 months to properly rezone a new location, which was an unrealistic time frame for the local business to wait to find a new home. After inquiring with the City of Calgary, who told him they could quickly rezone a space for his brewery if he moved south, Mr. Gibbon told me he looked north to the City of St. Albert, where Amber’s is now brewed in a brewery owned by the Hog’s Head Brewing Company.

“We chase business out,” said Mr. Gibbon, who wants to make the city more friendly and flexible to local entrepreneurs who want to lay down roots in Edmonton.

Not just a simple beer man, Mr. Gibbon is a director of Edmonton’s Heritage Festival and holds a Masters in Business Administration, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Sciences from the University of Alberta. Mr. Gibbon is the nephew grandson of Ray Gibbon, who served as mayor of St. Albert from 1968 to 1974 and as interim mayor in 1989.

In Ward 5, Mr. Gibbon faces five other declared candidates: former Catholic school trustee Rudy Arcilla, past provincial Liberal Party candidate Arif Khan, former city council executive assistant Terry Demers, Dan St. Pierre, and Michael Oshry. Ward 5 is currently represented by Councillor Karen Leibovici, who is running for mayor.

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Alberta Politics

Don Iveson brings new energy to Edmonton’s mayoral election.

Don Iveson Edmonton Election Mayor
Councillor Don Iveson launched his campaign for Mayor of Edmonton this week.

Councillor Don Iveson announced his candidacy for mayor this week, rounding out the list of the most likely candidates expected to run for Mayor of Edmonton this year. Councillor Iveson has represented south Edmonton on city council for two terms and is well-known as an advocate of sustainability and smart growth.

First elected to city council in 2007, Councillor Iveson defied expectations when he unseated Councillor Mike Nickel in the then-sprawling south Edmonton Ward 5. He was easily re-elected in 2010 in the new Ward 10 with 76% of the vote. He has served as chair of the Capital Region Board’s Transit Committee and as a strong advocate for public education as a member of Edmonton’s Public Library Board. At age 34, he is the youngest Councillor in the race and brings a wealth of unconventional ideas and energy to the contest.

Kerry Diotte Edmonton Mayor
Kerry Diotte

Over the past few months, I have attended the announcements of the three city councillors competing for the mayor’s chair and it has been interesting to observe the differences in atmosphere and attendance.

On May 16, the day after Edmonton City Council voted to move forward on the downtown arena project, Councillor Kerry Diotte announced his candidacy to a group of seniors in a windowless hotel conference room. Councillor Diotte was not particularly articulate when he spoke with the media at this event, but his anti-downtown arena and anti-pothole agenda will resonate with a surprising number of Edmontonians frustrated with the current leadership in City Hall.

On June 12, Councillor Karen Leibovici stood in front of a crowd of supporters, including many of of Edmonton’s corporate elite and political establishment, to announce her candidacy for mayor. Her campaign chose the brand new CKUA building, an institution embraced by our city’s baby boomers, to launch her campaign. A formidable candidate with four-terms on city council and two-terms in the provincial legislature under her belt, Councillor Leibovici brings 27 years of electoral experience to her well-funded campaign. As she positions herself as the heir-apparent to Mayor Stephen Mandel’s legacy, she may run into difficulties if she is too overcautious not to criticize the outgoing mayor.

Karen Leibovici
Karen Leibovici

On June 18, with supporters by his side, Councillor Iveson took to the podium at Edmonton’s Petroleum Club to announce his entry into the mayoral contest. The venue was an odd choice for the articulate and nerdy policy wonk known for his smart growth politics and love of bicycles. Perhaps to ease the worries of some voters who may feel uncomfortable with this younger and more progressive candidate, Councillor Iveson sent a message that while we need to look at new ways of developing our city, the industries and business that drive our economy are essential.

While praising the work of retiring Mayor Mandel, Councillor Iveson has not been shy to provide examples of where Edmonton city council could have done better over the past six years – including doing a better job of convincing the provincial and federal governments to share the cost of the downtown arena project.

The vibe of the youthful crowd at the Petroleum Club was different than the other candidate’s events. There was an unmistakable mood of optimism among those attending Councillor Iveson’s announcement, many who looked like they would be ready to start knocking on doors for the candidate that afternoon. In many ways, this diverse group of young Edmontonians – entrepreneurs, lawyers, university students, and public servants – represent the new face of our city.

Edmontonians now have three contenders who realistically stand a chance of winning the October 21 mayoral election. It is going to be an exciting four months!

(Note: I have known Don Iveson for many years and volunteered on his successful City Council campaigns in the 2007 and 2010 elections and will be volunteering on his campaign in this election)

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Alberta Politics

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.

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Edmonton Election

Edmonton election heats up in early summer months

Amarjeet Sohi opts out for mayor. Scott McKeen rumoured in Ward 6.

Amarjeet Sohi announces he will not run for Mayor.
Amarjeet Sohi announces he will not run for Mayor.

Amarjeet Sohi announced this week that he will not jump into Edmonton’s open mayoral race. The two-term councillor, who had been pondering a run for mayor, will instead run for re-election in his south side Ward 12, where he was re-elected with 64% of the vote in 2010.

Karen Leibovici
Karen Leibovici

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.

Scott McKeen Edmonton Councillor
Scott McKeen

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.

See a full list of declared election candidates here

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Alberta Politics

Mandel’s retirement kicks-off Edmonton’s first open mayoral race in 45 years.

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel
Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel‘s announcement yesterday that he will not seek re-election in the October 21, 2013 election has made way for our city’s first real open mayoral contest in 45 years.

Over those 45 years, Mandel is only the second Edmonton Mayor to leave on his own terms. In 1988, Mayor Laurence Decore stepped down to become leader of Alberta’s Liberal Party. Mayor William Hawrelak died in office in 1975. All other Mayors or interim Mayors were defeated in an election.

Here’s a short history lesson about Edmonton’s mayoral elections:

When Mayor Vincent Dantzer retired from municipal politics in 1968, he was succeeded by Mayor Ivor Dent. Dent was defeated by former Mayor Hawrelak in the 1974 election. When Mayor Hawrelak died in office in 1975, Alderman Terry Cavanagh became interim Mayor. Interim Mayor Cavanaugh contested the 1977 election and was defeated by Cec Purves. Mayor Purves was then defeated by Mr. Decore in 1983. When Mayor Decore resigned in 1988, Alderman Cavanaugh once again filled the role of interim Mayor and was defeated in the 1989 election by Councillor Jan Reimer. Mayor Reimer was later defeated by businessman Bill Smith in the 1995 election. Councillor Mandel unseated Mayor Smith in 2004.

Who can Edmontonians expect to run in our first real open mayoral election in a generation?

Councillor Kerry Diotte launched his campaign last week and Councillors Don IvesonKaren Leibovici, and Amarjeet Sohi are suspected to be interested in running. The absence of an incumbent candidate might also draw candidates from outside City Council or traditional political circles.

More on this soon.

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Alberta Politics

Updated: Kerry Diotte running for Mayor of Edmonton.

Leaked photos that may have been a mayoral photoshoot for Councillor Kerry Diotte were posted on Facebook by photographer Con Boland last month.
Leaked photos that may have been a mayoral photoshoot for Councillor Kerry Diotte were posted on Facebook by photographer Con Boland last month.

To no one’s surprise, Edmonton City Council’s resident contrarian Kerry Diotte launched his campaign at a downtown hotel this afternoon, making him the first candidate to enter Edmonton’s 2013 Mayoral Election race.

After yesterday’s “final” vote on the proposed downtown arena project, the former Edmonton Sun columnist quickly announced he would soon make an announcement about his political future. Photos leaked to this blog last month suggest Councillor Diotte has been preparing to run for mayor for some time.

The current mayor, Stephen Mandel, is not a fan of Councillor Diotte, shared some harsh words about him on CityTV’s Breakfast Television this morning: “He hasn’t done anything…. He comes to Council and tweets all the time…. He doesn’t pay attention…

When asked by reporters at today’s press conference about his vision for Edmonton, Councillor Diotte stumbled, citing “listening” and a grocery list of issues including opposing the arena, fixing potholes, and stopping the construction of bike lanes.

If trying to figure out Councillor Diotte’s vision for Edmonton is difficult, so is pinpointing his politics. He has acted as the right-wing contrarian during his three-years on city council and has attached himself to more controversial attention-grabbing issues. This has not made him popular with his council colleagues and has typically placed him in the minority vote on council (he would typically be the “1” in a 12-1 vote).

Though his supporters preach about his populist streak, it feels more gimmicky than real grassroots (his public engagement seems focused on holding contests on his website, like ‘Kerry in your Kitchen,‘ or a contest where he took a constituent to an Edmonton Oilers game).

Council Diotte’s explanation why he wants to be Mayor was not awe inspiring, articulate or well-prepared, but it was frankly reflective of the frustration felt by some Edmontonians about the leadership-style of current city administration. He is a backlash candidate who could appeal to many voters who either disagree with the current mayor or feel left out of Edmonton’s decision-making process.

Despite the many criticisms of Councillor Diotte, he should not be discounted and should, at this point in time, be considered a serious candidate.

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The gaggle of Wildrose Opposition Caucus staffers standing at the back of the press conference may give an indication as to how the one-term Councillor plans to build a city-wide political campaign. With the Wildrose Party looking to gain an organizational toe-hold in major Alberta’s cities before the next election, it is easy to understand why their organizers would gravitate toward Councillor Diotte.

———-

Other candidates suspected to be interested in the mayor’s chair include Councillors Don Iveson, Karen Leibovici, and Amarjeet Sohi.

Categories
Alberta Politics

Mayor Mandel on the warpath, keeps re-election plans secret.

 

Yours truly, community organizer Michael Walters and Mayor Stephen Mandel at the Mayor's campaign headquarters during the 2010 election.
Yours truly, community organizer Michael Walters and Mayor Stephen Mandel at the Mayor’s campaign headquarters during the 2010 election.

Stephen Mandel is not ready to announce whether he will run for a fourth-term as Edmonton’s Mayor.

Speaking to a crowd of more than 2000 people at his annual state-of-the-city address to the Chamber of Commerce, Mandel avoided the topic of his political future, instead taking aim at Premier Alison Redford’s Progressive Conservatives by criticizing recent deep cuts to post-secondary education budget.

Mayor Mandel also called out the Tories for their lack of commitment to the promised City Charters and cuts to municipal infrastructure funding. It was a big shift for a Mayor who has spent his time in office influencing his provincial counterparts behind the scenes, rather than through the media.

Thomas Lukaszuk
Thomas Lukaszuk

The always-eloquent Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk was in the audience at the Mayor’s announcement and responded by telling the media that, “I don’t know who pissed into his corn flakes…” He might be #2 in the halls of the provincial legislature, but Minister Lukaszuk was vastly outnumbered in that banquet hall yesterday afternoon.

For all his faults, Mayor Mandel is still incredibly popular among Edmonton’s business community – a powerful constituency in the electoral coalition that re-elected the Tories in 2012.

With the Mayor on a new warpath, political watchers who were expecting the Mayor to announce his plan to retire in yesterday’s speech will have to wait (perhaps four more years if he decides to run again).

If Mayor Mandel decides to retire, this October’s vote will be the first mayoral election since 1968 without an incumbent or interim mayor on the ballot. Edmontonians have witnessed considerable growth in their city and progress on projects like downtown redevelopment and public transit expansion since he became Mayor in 2004. He will be a hard act to follow.

Don Iveson
Don Iveson

Mayor Mandel’s potential retirement has sparked wild-rumours and serious-speculation about who could run to replace him. While none have officially declared their candidacy, all eyes could soon focus on the handful of City Councillors who could stand to become the next Mayor of Edmonton.

As an underdog candidate in the 2007 election, Don Iveson surprised political watchers when he unseated high-profile Councillor and past mayoral candidate Mike Nickel in south Edmonton’s Ward 5. Since then, Councillor Iveson has been one of Council’s most well-spoken and thoughtful voices on issues ranging from smart growth to waste management. His role as chair of the Capital Region Board’s Transit Committee will have given him an opportunity to understand the broader needs of Edmonton’s neighbours.

Don Iveson represents a new generation of politically engaged Edmontonians who are passionate about defining Edmonton as a strong economic and creative hub in Canada.

Karen Leibovici
Karen Leibovici

A popular and hard-working representative, Karen Leibovici is one of Edmonton’s longest serving politicians. She began her elected career as a Liberal MLA representing the Edmonton-Meadowlark constituency in 1993 and was elected to City Council in 2001. While she once wanted to lead Alberta’s Liberal Party, her politics have tended to be more conservative on civic issues.

Councillor Leibovici is currently finishing her term as the President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the national lobby group for Canadian municipalities.

Serving his second-term representing Mill Woods, Amarjeet Sohi is a consummate retail politician and community advocate. On Council, he is a passionate voice for an area of Edmonton that has been traditionally underrepresented in the halls of power. A former representative with the Amalgamated Transit Workers Union, which represents Edmonton Transit Service staff, Councillor Sohi is one of the most down-to-earth politicians you will find in this city.

Amarjeet Sohi
Amarjeet Sohi

First-term Councillor and former Edmonton Sun reporter Kerry Diotte has made his mark over the past two years as City Council’s resident contrarian on issues ranging from bike lanes to the proposed downtown arena. Tapping into widespread frustrations about the state of city roads, Councillor Diotte recently launched the gimmicky “hole-y-cow” contest to encourage Edmontonians to report potholes for a chance to win a $500 gift certificate.

While he has been outspoken critic on city council, it is sometimes difficult to figure out what vision Councillor Diotte actually has for Edmonton.

Whether these Councillors run for Mayor in October depends on many factors, including the big question of whether Mandel will decide to seek re-election. Following yesterday’s speech, we may have to wait a while for Mandel to give us an answer to that big question. Stay tuned.

Categories
Alberta Politics

recommended reading: how the katz group did an end run around the best interests of edmontonians.

If you read one article today, please read Paula Simons well written column on how billionaire Daryl Katz and the Katz Group were able to score major concessions from the City of Edmonton during their campaign to secure public funds to build their new downtown arena.

Simons: Katz Group power play scores major concessions from city

Call it the art of the deal — raised to the level, not of a Donald Trump, but of a Leonardo da Vinci.

Back in April, Edmonton city council agreed that it would only support Daryl Katz’s proposal for a new downtown arena under a long list of very strict circumstances. Among them? The motion required the Katz Group to put up at least $100 million toward the capital cost of the arena. It put a strict $125-million ceiling on the city’s direct cost for building the facility. And it specified that no deal would go ahead until another level or levels of government had somehow made up the remaining $100 million funding shortfall.

There is still no public hint of that magical $100 million, from either the Alison Redford Tories or the Stephen Harper Conservatives.

Yet at a hastily called meeting this past Friday, with three councillors out of town and one on a medical leave, city council voted to buy the land that Katz has optioned for a new arena. (Bryan Anderson, who’s recovering from surgery, missed the vote. So did Ben Henderson, who was stuck on a plane. Karen Leibovici and Linda Sloan were out of the country on holiday, but voted over the phone.) Of those councillors who did vote, only Sloan, Tony Caterina, and Kerry Diotte opposed the purchase.

Read the rest and if your stomach is feeling queasy when you reach the end of the column, phone or email the Mayor and your City Councillor, and tell them how you feel about the decisions they are making by rushing the decision to provide public funds to pay for a downtown arena for Mr. Katz and his company.