On Thursday, October 11, I joined Ward 5 City Council candidate Don Iveson and volunteers for an afternoon and evening of campaigning. Here's my story of the day:
12:30 p.m. Don Iveson and his Deputy Campaign Manager Leanne Brown pop by my house to pick me up.
12:45 p.m. We start doorknocking in the Belgravia neighbourhood. As a first time candidate, I was surprised at the amount of positive support Don got at the doors. The big issues I heard of at the doors with Don were transportation, and the sorry state of our roads and planning in Edmonton.
It also wasn't uncommon to hear complaints about the demon dialing ways of another Ward 5 candidate.
We also got eight lawn sign requests in less than an hour in Belgravia. Go team!
1:50 p.m. Don, Leanne, and I head off to the Queen Alexandra Seniors Lodge in the Queen Alexandra neighbourhood.
Don spoke to a group of about 40 seniors and covered a wide range of issues. Following Don's introductions, the residents had a chance to ask Don questions about his platform and what his stances as a City Councillor for Ward 5 would be.
Questions ranged from snow removal, the labour shortage, the difficulty of keeping up with Alberta's and Edmonton's growth, roads and potholes, sidewalk maintenance, and the state of infrastructure in Edmonton's mature neighbourhoods (such as Queen Alexandra).
Don's was also able to cover issues spanning from smarter planning, public transit, road maintenance, education, and fair taxation.
As we were leaving the Seniors Lodge, one of the residents leaned over to Don, thanked him for speaking to the residents, and told Don that he "had learned more about Edmonton in the one hour talking with Don than he had in the past 10 years." Touching and powerful.
3:10 p.m. Leave the Queen Alexandra Seniors Lodge and hard off towards Riverbend!
3:30 p.m. - We stop to have a quick lunch at the Fresh Start Cafe in Riverbend neighbourhood. I had a great roast beef sandwich with a tomato soup (not really relavent to this story, but good none the less).
While at Fresh Start, we meet up with Dr. Rob Agostinis, President of the Terwilliger-Riverbend Advisory Council, who joins us for some doorknocking in Riverbend.
3:45 p.m. After a quick lunch, Don, Leanne, Dr. Agostinis, and I head off to Riverbend to do some doorknocking!
Some big issues at the doors in Riverbend include transportation, I hear something at the doors that sticks in my head:
"there is a great willingness to take public transit, if service was improved and made more convenient for the residents in Riverbend."I also canvass a surprising amount of families who will be voting for Don Iveson and Mike Nickel. An interesting mix. There seems to be quite a bit of hostility towards Ward Five's other City Councillor, Bryan Anderson, in this neighbourhood.
I also sense some strong support for Edmonton Public School Board candidate Catherine Ripley in this area.
7:10 p.m. Now that the sun has set, I join Don and his team as we depart Riverbend, pick up another volunteer, and head to downtown Edmonton to listen to an urban development lecture at the Citadel Theatre. The lecture was part of the Edmonton 2007 Cultural Capital of Canada program delivered by Dr. Roberta Brandes-Gratz.
Dr. Brandes-Gratz is an award-winning journalist and urban critic, lecturer and author of The Living City: Thinking Small in a Big Way, and Cities Back from the Edge: New Life for Downtown. She is an international lecturer on urban development issues and former reporter for the New York Post.
It was a very interesting lecture (and really makes me wish I studied Urban Planning, rather than Political Science). Dr. Brandes-Gratz had some great quotes, here are some I remember:
"Urbanism cannout exist with out the layers of history."As much of Don's campaign has centered around vibrant communities and efficiency, this lecture was particularly fitting.
"Density is not a problem, overcrowding is."
"Urbanism does not exist with out denisity, density breeds diversity, diversity defines a city."
"Lively diverse cities contain the seeds of their own rejuvination."
While filing out after the talk, we bumped into former City Councillor Gene Dub who wished Don good luck in the final days of his campaign (Dub has also endorsed Don).
9:00 p.m. After Dr. Brandes-Gratz's lecture, we joined fellow audience members and delegates of a national urban planning conference at a reception hosted by the Edmonton Arts Council
While at the reception (and enjoying the complementary wine and brilliant goat cheese), we were joined by retiring Ward 3 City Councillor Janice Melnychuk. Though the conversation began as a review of the talk, it soon turned to discussion about the final days of campaign.
9:45 p.m. Leaving the Citadel Theatre reception, I continue to tag along with Don and team as we head back to headquarters (not headquaters) in the Malmo Plains neighbourhood, but not before we pick up some pizza, and drive through Belgravia to put up some of those lawn signs that were requested earlier that day.
10:30 p.m. We arrive back at the campaign headquarters after a long and hard day of campaigning. We open up and the pizza and start the daily debrief and small talk.
It was a good day, but with only a hand full of days left in the 2007 Edmonton Municipal campaign, the final push over the weekend is what will make the difference on Monday, October 15, 2007.