Thank you to the readers of Vue Weekly, Edmonton’s alternative-weekly magazine, for voting daveberta.ca as the city’s Best Local Affairs Blog as part of the magazine’s annual Best of Edmonton list for 2017.
Mack Male’s excellent mastermaq.ca blog – a solid standard of Edmonton’s online media establishment – and Jeff Samsonow new project, edmontonquotient.com – which is quickly becoming one of my favourite local online destinations – were the runners up. Both are excellent sites that I would encourage readers of this blog to check out.
The annual Best of Edmonton list also includes categories for local politicians, including some who are running for re-election in the October 16, 2017 municipal elections.
Mayor Don Iveson and 25 other Edmontonians have officially submitted forms expressing their intent to run in Edmonton’s next municipal elections, which are scheduled to take place on Monday, October 16, 2017.
Mr. Iveson’s papers were signed on October 16, 2016 and are now filed in the Office of the City Clerk. After serving two-terms on City Council starting in 2007, Mr. Iveson was elected Mayor by an overwhelming 62 percent of voters in 2013. Along with his mayoral duties, he is currently the chair of Canada’s Big City Mayors’ Caucus, which includes the mayors of Canada’s largest cities.
Candidates do not have to declare what positions they plan to run for until the official nomination day, on Monday September 18, 2017.
Some recent additions to the list of interested candidates, who have filed their papers since my previousupdates, include:
Beatrice Ghettuba – A Chartered Professional Accountant and Board Chair of Edmonton’s Africa Centre. She ran as a federal Liberal candidate in the St. Albert-Edmonton riding in the 2015 election. In that race she finished second with 22.6 percent of the vote, ahead of incumbent Independent MP Brent Rathgeber.
There are 455 days until Edmontonians go to the polls to vote in the next municipal elections and some candidates are already starting to organize their campaigns.
I dropped by the Office of the City Clerk yesterday and discovered that ten candidates have officially registered their intent to run in Edmonton’s 2017 municipal election. Prospective candidates need to file their intentions to run in order to fundraise for their campaigns but they do not need to identify what position they plan to run for until they submit their papers to the City Clerk on the official nomination day.
Five incumbent city councillors Bev Esslinger, Dave Loken, Scott McKeen, Michael Walters and Mike Nickel have filed their papers. I suspect that the five incumbents will run for re-election in their respective Wards. It was suspected that Mr. Nickel could make a third attempt at running for mayor (he did in 1998 and 2001) but a rape joke published on his now-former online talk show’s Facebook page may have convinced him to focus on re-election in Ward 11.
The five challengers who have filed their intentions are:
Sam Hachem was the sole candidate to challenge Councillor Ed Gibbons in Ward 4 in 2013. He earned 22.8 percent of the vote.
Shelley Tupper has been a candidate for City Council in north west Edmonton wards in 2007, 2010 and 2013. In 2013 she ran in Ward 2, finishing 5th with 9 percent of the vote. She has previously served as president of the Kensington Community League and is the current Secretary of the Edmonton-Griesbach Conservative Association.
Matthew (Matty) Wray, about whom I could not find any information online.
The next Municipal Elections will be held on Monday, October 16, 2017.
It was June 1968. The original Trudeaumania was in full swing and Calgary geologist and businessman Nick Taylor (pictured in the photo above with his supporters) made his first expedition into federal politics as the Liberal candidate in the Calgary-Centre riding. The well-known oilman would come close to winning the riding in an election where the Liberals would earn 35.7% of the vote in Alberta.
When the ballots were counted in Calgary-Centre, Mr. Taylor placed only 301 votes behind Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament Douglas Harkness.
In 2011, Mr. Mahoney joked that the Liberal Party “will elect an MP in Calgary again before the Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup.” Neither of these things have yet to happen as of August 2015.
Despite his loss in 1968, Mr. Taylor would later become leader of the Alberta Liberal Party and, after a few years in the political wilderness, was elected as MLA for the Westlock-Sturgeon and Redwater from 1986 until he was appointed to the Canadian Senate in 1996.
With a less efficient dollar-to-vote ratio was Ms. Leibovici, who earned 41,182 votes (19% of the total vote) while outspending Mr. Iveson by more than $237,500 and declaring a steep $142,415.27 campaign deficit.
Released last week, the financial disclosures for Edmonton’s 2013 Mayoral and City Council elections detail how much each mayoral and councillor candidate raised and expensed during the campaign. Below is the breakdown for the top three mayoral candidates.
This is a win for the positive campaign and a stunning rebuke of the traditional negative campaign. While his main opponents strayed into negative tactics, Mr. Iveson’s campaign avoided the taunts by focusing on remaining positive and optimistic. And it worked. This should send a strong message to voters and politicians across the land that you do not need to go negative to win.
This is a vote for the future. I spoke with many people over the past month who weren’t sure what this election was about. While “the future” and “long-term planning” aren’t sexy wedge issues like the closure of an airport or the construction of a new hockey arena, they are so much more important. Campaigns can be delivered in full-sentences. Mr. Iveson’s comprehensive platform and its focus on long-term planning differentiated him from the other candidates.
There are challenges ahead. As mayor, Mr. Iveson will have to build a team on a city council with six new faces. Any successful mayor understands that they are only one vote of thirteen on council. Balancing progressive voices like re-elected councillors Ben Henderson and Amarjeet Sohi and newly-elected Michael Walters and Scott McKeen, along with moderate conservatives like Michael Oshry and fiscal hawks like Mike Nickel could be a challenge.
Building a strong region will be critical to moving Edmonton forward and new opportunities exist for the Capital Region Board with new mayors Tom Flynn in Sturgeon County, Lisa Holmes in Morinville, and Roxanne Carr in Strathcona County. Regional cooperation on planning and development, as well as service delivery, are areas where the capital region could see progress over the next four years.
Solving the fiscal challenges facing Alberta’s cities will also be difficult. The provincial government needs to be convinced that Alberta’s cities require additional resources and responsibilities to address the tremendous pressures associated with fast growing populations. The introduction of City Charters could be a significant step to helping cities deal with this issue.
With the province’s most dynamic political leaders now leading our large urban municipalities, Naheed Nenshi in Calgary, Don Iveson in Edmonton, Melissa Blake in Wood Buffalo, Bill Given in Grande Prairie, and newly elected Tara Veer in Red Deer have an opportunity to pursue a strong urban agenda that the provincial government cannot ignore.
(Note: I have been happy to volunteer my personal time during the election campaign to help Don Iveson become the next mayor of Edmonton. I am ecstatic that Edmontonians have entrusted him with their votes)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With Edmonton mayoral candidate Kerry Diottestirring up controversy over a YouTube video which his campaign has now removed, I thought I would take a look at some of the other election videos floating online. Here are a sample of YouTube videos of varying quality produced by some City Council candidates which have probably not received as much attention as Mr. Diotte’s video.
Councillor Don Ivesonannounced 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.
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 Diotteannounced 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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 leadAlberta’s Liberal Party, her politics have tended to be more conservative on civic issues.
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.
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.
The Wildrose Alliance is bolstering their staff in preparation for the next provincial election.
Recent hire William McBeath left his position as Director of Operations for Minister Diane Finley in Ottawa to become the Director of Candidate Operations and Party Communications for the Wildrose Alliance. Although he spent some time in Ottawa, political watchers will remember Mr. McBeath from his time as Alberta Regional Organizer for the Conservative Party of Canada, as researcher for former Edmonton City Councillor Mike Nickel, and as an organizer for Ted Morton‘s PC leadership campaign in 2006. Mr. McBeath joins long-time Conservative Party organizer Vitor Marciano, who was hired as the Wildrose Executive Director in March 2010.
“The issue is not the MLA; it is the party and the government. The government has been around too long.” – Former Conservative MP John Williams
The Wildrosers will be holding a contested nomination meeting in the Liberal-stronghold of Edmonton-Riverview. Candidates John Corie and Chris Ozdoba will duke it out on October 21 for the chance to hold their party’s flag in the constituency represented by MLA Kevin Taft since 2001 (who is not seeking re-election).
The Liberals have yet to announce a nomination date in Riverview, but rumours are circulating that retiring Public School Board Trustee Don Fleming is interested in seeking the Liberal nomination. Before Dr. Taft, the Riverview constituency was represented by current City Councillor Linda Sloan from 1997 to 2001.
The Liberal Party nominated former MLA Weslyn Mather in Edmonton-Mill Woods last weekend and will be holding a nomination meeting in Edmonton-McClung on October 23. Former MLA Mo Elsalhy is expected to be acclaimed at the nomination meeting.
The NDP have a contested nomination meeting in Grande Prairie-Wapiti scheduled for next week. Contestants Paula Anderson and John Friesen are probably participating in the first contested candidate nomination for the Grande Prairie NDP in recent memory.
I was not sure what to expect when I ventured into the packed auditorium at Harry Ainlay High School on Edmonton’s south side. Walking the halls of the giant high school, I remembered the last time I had been in that building was for a Ward 5 (now Ward 9 and 10) all-candidates forum in 2007. I remember that auditorium three years ago being packed with skeptics of then-Councillor Mike Nickel and supporters of first-time challenger Don Iveson.
Last night, I entered the auditorium two minutes before the candidates took to the podium and I wedged myself into a seat in the back row next (which ended up being right next to City Clerk Alayne Sinclair and elections staff, who were overseeing the event and updating the @EdmontonClerk twitter account).
While last night was nothing comparable to the Bartlett-Ritchie debate in the video about, it was a raucous evening. Over the course of the evening, the boisterous crowd jeered, cheered, and heckled the candidates when different issues various pet issues mentioned (the City Centre Airport, the Art Gallery of Alberta, and… David Suzuki and climate change).
First time candidate Dan Dromarsky was the most likable among the candidates. While answering each question, Mr. Dromarsky beamed with genuine concern for Edmonton and demonstrated that he had also done his homework when it came to a lot of the issues. His performance last night made me wish that he would have decided to run for City Council, instead of a Mayoral position that he has no chance of being elected.
Although he did not have a huge impact on the debate, Daryl Bonar has positioned himself as the most aggressive alternative to Mayor Stephen Mandel. His “fight back” campaign and actual platform positions presented a contrast to the other challengers who appeared unprepared for their candidacies.
The most entertaining candidate of the evening turned out to be Bob Ligertwood, who used every opportunity to decry the Internet and Facebook (even stating at one point that the Oil City Roadhouse should be shut down so that the Police could monitor computers at the public libraries). Candidate Andrew Lineker touched on some fair points about the transition of EPCOR to Capital Power, and Dave Dowling was remarkably subdued in light of his previous runs for Mayor.
David Dorward seemed like a nice man who would probably be a great financial adviser, but his focus on repeating platitudes and grasping for political points left me wondering if had the leadership skills or vision to lead an entire City. His campaign has the backing of Envision Edmonton lobby group and the support of their wealthy financial backers, which puts him in a financial advantage over the other challengers. Mr. Dorward has only made one policy announcement (on seniors taxes yesterday) and his campaign has yet to show that he has the policy depth to be a successful Mayor.
It is unfortunate that his campaign feels like it was thrown together at the last hour. Had Mr. Dorward began preparing his bid earlier in the summer, rather than a week before the election period started, the Edmontonians in the room last night probably would have seen a more vigorous debate centered around ideas and vision, rather than platitudes and talking points.
Two-term Mayor Stephen Mandel was the most confident and answered questions with a confidence that none of the other candidates had. He fumbled a few questions, but gave the impression that of the three serious candidates (himself, Mr. Bonar, and Mr. Dorward), he was the only one who actually understood how governance works.
I voted for Mayor Mandel in 2004 and 2007, and I generally believe that he has done a good job over the past six years. I also support City Council’s decision to close the City Centre Airport over a phased period of time and redevelop the lands.
On some other issues, I have been less impressed with the Mayor. I am not comfortable with his cozy relationship with the Katz Group in light of their request for City funding of a downtown arena and I am skeptical about the City’s bid to host the 2017 World Expo. As a young Edmontonian, I also feel that the City should be more aggressive in promoting the construction of family-orinented densification and infill in the urban core, something that none of the candidates spoke about last night.
Most of Mayor Mandel’s challengers demonstrated a fairly evident lack of understanding of how our democratic process and representative democracy functions. Mr. Dorward’s supporters in the crowd jeered at the Mayor and the challengers charged that it was undemocratic for City Council to have rejected a plebiscite on the City Centre Airport redevelopment. None of the challengers thought to mention that the petition was ruled invalid under provincial law. If a candidate cannot demonstrate that they understand how a clearly laid out petition process works, then it is difficult for me to imagine them tackling the macro-level important issues facing the City.
Edmontonians deserved a better debate last night and Mayor Mandel deserved a more serious challenge in this election. Unless the challengers undergo a miraculous change between now and October 18, we may have to wait to see what October 2013 has to offer us.