I spoke with CTV Edmonton about the bizarre development in Edmonton’s mayoral election between former City Councillor Michael Oshry and current Councillor Mike Nickel. Nickel tweeted a screenshot of a private message sent to him by Oshry saying he was “likely in” as a candidate for the mayoral race and asking Nickel if he would support him. Nickel’s tweet was sent to generate attention to his own campaign for mayor, but also serves as a warning to anyone planning to send him an email or private message – it might not stay private for long.
Diana Steele has announced her plans to run for mayor. Steele is the President of the Crestwood Community League and Coordinator, Volunteer Services and Communications for the Pilgrims Hospice Society.
There have also been a number of candidates who have announced their plans to run for Edmonton City Council in the newly redrawn and renamed Wards:
Dene: Youth, Child and Refugee Advocate Gerard Mutabazi Amani is running in this north east Edmonton ward.
Townsend is the President of the Parkdale-Cromdale Community League and owner of The Briefing Room. He was the provincial Liberal Party candidate in Lesser Slave Lake in the 2012 election and in Edmonton-Whitemud in the 2015 election.
pihêsiwin: First-term councillor Tim Cartmell announced his plans to run for re-election in this newly redrawn ward. Cartmell made the announcement on his constituent email list.
sipiwiyiniwak: Giselle General announced on Facebook that she plans to run in this new south west ward. General is the Volunteer and Communications Coordinator with the Edmonton Community Legal Centre and the author of the FlipinaYEG blog.
Sspomitapi: Rashpal Sehmby is planning to run in this south east Edmonton ward. Sehmby is a postal worker and currently the Health & Safety officer for C.U.P.W. Edmonton Local 730.
I am once again tracking candidates who have announced their plans to run for Mayor, City Council and School Board in Edmonton. If I am missing anyone on the list, please send me an email at email@example.com or post a comment and let me know. Thanks!
This is the first major change in ward boundaries since Edmonton moved to a one-councillor per ward model in 2010. Prior to then, Edmonton had used a two-councillor ward system since 1980.
The boundary changes are significant in many parts of the city, including Edmonton’s central and mature neighbourhoods and burgeoning southern suburbs. The changes create three new urban central wards and four new wards in the south that span from more established neighbourhoods in Mill Woods and south Edmonton to areas south of the Anthony Henday Freeway along the southern edge of the city.
The new southern Wards I, J, K and L have a slightly lower average population anticipation of growth in the southern suburbs over the next decade. If population growth does continue in the south as anticipated, those Wards will become more suburban heavy over time.
Ward F spans the North Saskatchewan River by including the southern half of the current Ward 7 and most of the east neighbourhoods of the current Ward 8. This more closely reflects the Edmonton Public School Board ward boundaries, which were redrawn ahead of the 2017 election.
There has been some concern raised that the issues of inner city neighbourhoods like Alberta Avenue could be lost by being included in a Ward F that encompasses the increasingly gentrifying neighbourhoods that straddle the North Saskatchewan River and make up the southern portion of the new ward.
As a resident of the current Ward 7, I suspect that many of the neighbourhoods included in the new Ward F that lie north of the river (including mine) have more in common with the neighbourhoods south of the river than the neighbourhoods north of the Yellowhead Trail.
And in the heart of the city, Ward E would create a new ward encompassing the downtown and some of the city’s core neighbourhoods, including the yet to be developed Blatchford area where the former Edmonton City Centre Airport once stood.
New Ward names recommended
This was the first time the City of Edmonton used a citizen Ward Boundary Commission to redraw electoral boundaries. While the final report needs to be approved by City Council, and is still open for Councillors to tinker with, handing the process to an arms-length citizen led commission is a positive move.
The proposed boundaries are designated by letter rather than by number, as the current wards are, but the Commission’s final report included a recommendation that City Council consider a naming system that is more intuitive to residents than the current one. For example, Canadian cities like Winnipeg and Montreal use named wards, and Ottawa and Halifax use a combined numerical and named Wards.
While the Commission was given a mandate to draw boundaries that could last for the next three elections, to 2029, it also recommended that City Council consider reducing the allowable population variance for future boundary adjustments from 25 percent to 10 or 15 percent.
The final report also recognized the weakness in the public engagement process that was created due to the tight timelines given to the Commission.
Impact on the next election
The changes would undoubtably have a big impact on the next election, and will leave some big questions for incumbent City Councillors and challengers as to where they stand as candidates.
A number of councillors have seen their current wards changed significantly, meaning that if they seek re-election they may need to campaign in many neighbourhoods they previously did not represent. While incumbency and name recognition is a big advantage in municipal elections, the redrawn boundaries could expose some incumbent councillors to strong challenges.
And the big unanswered question hanging out there – whether Mayor Don Iveson runs for re-election – is key. If Iveson does not run for a third-term, it is anticipated that a number of City Councillors could enter the mayoral race creating vacancies in a number of wards.
Councillor Mike Nickel has all but announced his third campaign for the mayor’s office with a series of anti-bike lane and anti-tax internet memes, and other councillors believed to be considering a run for mayor include Michael Walters, Tim Cartmell, and Sarah Hamilton. It is also rumoured that former councillor and federal cabinet minister Amarjeet Sohi could throw his name in the mayoral race, and, if so, he would be a formidable candidate.
The provincial government is also expected to introduce sweeping changes to Alberta’s municipal campaign finance laws ahead of the October 2021 vote. Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu was expected to introduce the changes during this year’s spring session of the Legislature, but the COVID-19 pandemic has likely delayed those changes to the fall.
Municipal candidates will compete with Senate election and referendum
The 2021 municipal elections will also coincide with the province-wide Senate nominee vote and a province-wide referendum promised by Premier Jason Kenney on possible issues ranging from equalization to withdrawal from the Canada Pension Plan, though it remains unclear what the ballot question will actually be.
The injection of provincial and federal issues and political parties campaigning during the same period as the municipal election could create some very interesting dynamics, and leave important local issues typically reserved for civic elections fighting for voters attention.
It is widely suspected that the decision by the United Conservative Party to resuscitate the Senate nominee elections (where candidates will be ostensibly running under federal party banners) and hold a province-wide referendum during the municipal election campaign is being done with the goal to generate attention for partisan conservative issues and increase support for conservative-aligned candidates running at the municipal level across Alberta.
Photo: Jon Dziadyk spent $9,950.00 on his campaign and unseated a two-term city councillor who spent $119,937.69.
Released this week, the financial disclosures from Edmonton’s municipal elections detail how much each mayoral and councillor candidate raised and expensed during the October 2017 campaign.
The most notable race in terms of money spent was north Edmonton’s Ward 3, where a campaign budget of $119,937.69 could not save two-term councillor Dave Loken from defeat. Loken placed second to Jon Dziadyk, whose campaign only expensed $9,950.00, and he finished narrowly ahead of third place candidate Karen Principe, whose campaign expensed $4,941.54.
Aside from Dziadyk, only two other winning candidates did not to spend the most money in their races. In Ward 6, councillor Scott McKeen’s expenses of $68,833.84 were overshadowed by the $85,469.35 expensed by second place challenger Bill Knight. And in Ward 4, Aaron Paquette’s $58,018.93 campaign was narrowly outspent by second place finisher Rocco Caterina, whose campaign expensed $59,998.97.
While money is still necessary to run a political campaign, as the race in Ward 3 demonstrated, it is sometimes not a factor in determining how voters will act when they reach their voting station.
Below is the breakdown of the revenue and expenses of the for the top three mayoral candidates by votes.
Fourth place mayoral candidate Fahad Mughal claimed revenue and expenses of $22,793.00, and a number of other mayor candidates self-financed their campaigns. None came close to raising or spending the amount that Iveson’s campaign did.
Here are the financial breakdowns submitted from elected city council candidates competing in Edmonton’s 12 wards.
Edmonton City Council Election 2013, Financial Disclosure
According to the Local Authorities Elections Act, donations to municipal election candidates are limited to a maximum of $5,000 for individuals, corporations and trade unions during an election year.
Photo: Don Iveson celebrates his re-election victory with his family (photo: Twitter)
As expected, Don Iveson was re-elected Mayor of Edmonton in a huge landslide with 141,182 votes – 72 percent of the total votes cast in that race – increasing his total vote count from the 2013 election. Placing a very, very distant second was perennial candidate and pro-smoker advocate Don Koziak, who earned 6.7 percent.
Of the City Council races, the most notable ended up being the surprise defeat of incumbent councillor Dave Loken in Ward 3, who was unseated by Jon Dziadyk by 464 votes. Karen Principe placed a strong third-place in this race. Loken, who was running for his third-term on council, becomes the first incumbent councillor to lose re-election since Don Iveson defeated Mike Nickel in 2007.
In neighbouring Ward 7, Kris Andreychuk ran an incredible first-time campaign placing 165 votes behind three-term councillor Tony Caterina. Caterina saw his share of the vote drop from 42 percent in 2013 to 33 percent in this year’s election.
Three new councillors were elected in Wards without incumbents. In Ward 4, Aaron Paquette finished first in a twelve-person race with 23 percent of the vote. Sarah Hamilton earned 35 percent of the vote in a nine-person race in Ward 5 to succeed retiring one-term councillor Michael Oshry. And in Ward 9, Tim Cartmell was elected with 41 percent of the vote over four challengers.
Running what appeared to be a stealth re-election campaign in Ward 8, three-term Councillor Ben Henderson was re-elected with 36 percent of the vote. This is a 38 percent drop in support from 2013, when he was re-elected with 74 percent of the vote. Challengers Kirsten Goa placed second with 22 percent, James Kosowan with 19 percent and Eli Schrader with 11 percent.
In the Public School Board races, Michael Janz was re-elected in a landslide in Ward F. With 15,671 votes and 71.4 percent of the total vote, Janz earned the most votes of any trustee and council candidate and the highest percentage of any candidate in this election except Don Iveson.
In Ward C, Shelagh Dunn earned 45 percent of the vote, unseating incumbent Orville Chubb, who earned 18 percent of the vote. In Ward D, former CBC broadcaster Trisha Estabrooks was elected with 44 percent.
In Ward G, Bridget Stirling appeared to be in a tough race for re-election, but she defeated conservative activist Tyler Duce by a 33 percent margin. Duce’s campaign had broadcast a robocall endorsement from former Edmonton-Gold Bar MLA David Dorward in the final weekend of the campaign.
Ward 4: There are twelve candidates running in this northeast Edmonton Ward. Ed Gibbons has represented the area since 2001 but decided not to seek re-election. With so many candidates there is a chance that the successful candidate could be elected with a small percentage of the total vote. It is difficult to make a prediction about who will win, but one campaign that sticks out is that of well-known artist and past NDP candidate Aaron Paquette. I am also watching Alison Poste, Hassan Haymour, Rocco Caterina, Justin Draper, and Trisha Velthuizen in this race.
Ward 7: Tony Caterina is running for his fourth-term on city council and, unlike most incumbents, he has always faced strong challengers. In 2010 he was re-elected with 48 percent of the vote and in 2013 he was returned to office with 42 percent. This time around, he faces a strong challenge from Kris Andreychuk, who is running a solid campaign and has the support of the two previous second place challengers (including Caterina’s council colleague Scott McKeen, now representing Ward 6). I have also been impressed by Mimi Williams, who placed third in 2013 but is running a noticeably better organized campaign this time.
Ward 8: Councillor Ben Henderson was re-elected with 84 percent of the vote in 2013 but this year he faces a much more robust challenge from three main candidates – Kirsten Goa, Eli Schrader and James Kosowan. I have spoken to a number of voters in this ward who have been confused by Henderson’s low-profile campaign and my impression is that Kirsten Goa is the candidate to watch in this race.
Ward 11: Mike Nickel will be hard to beat, but challenger Keren Tang has been running a strong and well-organized campaign. Nickel was first elected in Ward 11 in 2013, but he ran for mayor in 1998 and 2001, and later served as Councillor for Ward 5 from 2004 until he was defeated by Don Iveson in 2007.
I am also watching a handful of Public School Board races, including Ward A, where incumbent Cheryl Johner is facing six challengers, Ward G, where incumbent Bridget Stiring is being challenged by conservative activist Tyler Duce, and Ward F, where my friend Michael Janz is being challenged by Yemi Philip.
Just outside of Edmonton city limits, here are some more races I will be watching:
St. Albert Mayoral Election: Councillors Cathy Heron, Cam Mackay and former councillor Malcolm Parker are running to succeed retiring Mayor Nolan Crouse. This bedroom community north of Edmonton is known for its nasty politics and divisive elections, and this year’s election was no exception. A slate of candidates, apparently friendly to Mackay, have been campaigning against the construction of a second library branch in the growing community.
Strathcona County Mayoral Election: Incumbent Roxanne Carr is facing a strong challenge from former Progressive Conservative MLA Jacquie Fenske, former mayor and past Wildrose candidate Linda Osinchuk, and past federal Liberal candidate Rod Frank.
Are there any other races I should be watching on October 16? Let me know!
There are 179 days left until Edmontonians cast their votes to choose their next city council. With the spring approaching and prime campaigning weather just around the corner, candidates are beginning to launch their campaigns.
Ward 1: First-term councillor Andrew Knack held a re-election fundraiser on March 26, 2017 at a at the Delux Burger Bar. Knack is expected to formally launch his campaign in the coming months.
Ward 4: Local artist and advocate Aaron Paquette is running in Ward 4. Paquette was the federal New Democratic Party candidate in Edmonton-Manning during the October 2015 election, where he placed third with 11,582 votes (23.6 percent of the total votes cast). He is also known as the founder of the clever #Ottawapiskat meme that satirized criticisms of the Idle No More protests.
Ward 5: Sarah Hamilton is running in Ward 5. Hamilton is the owner of a local communications and public relations company. She previously served as the director of communications and media relations for the Coal Association of Canada from 2015 to 2017, and previous to that served as deputy press secretary for health minister Stephen Mandel from 2014 to 2015.
Rental property manager and developer Tish Prouse is also running in Ward 6. He ran for city council in 2013 as a candidate in Ward 7 where he placed fourth with 1,053 votes (7.3 percent of the total votes cast).
Ward 7: Matt Kleywegt launched his campaign at the Bellevue Community Hall on March 31, 2017. According to his website, Kleywegt is a Graduation Coach with Edmonton Public Schools, where he assists Indigenous teens graduate High School. Here is the video of his campaign launch:
Ward 9: Physician Rob Agostinis will launch his campaign for election on April 21, 2017 at the Whitemud Creek Community Centre. Agostinis is a former president of the Terwillegar Riverbend Advisory Council and former president of the U of A medical alumni association. HE was briefly nominated a candidate for the Liberal Party in Edmonton-Whitemud before the 2001 election.
Ward 11: Keren Tang and Brandy Burdeniuk have launched their bids for city council in this south east Edmonton ward. Tang is President of the board of the Edmonton Multicultural Coalition and is a health promotion researcher. Burdeniuk is a co-founder of a building certification and sustainability company.
If you know any candidates who have announced their intentions to stand for Mayor, Council, or School Board, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will add them to the list. Thank you!