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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

207 days until mayoral vote 2010.

Following Mayor Stephen Mandel's recent announcement that he will be running for a third-term in office, I have a couple of quick thoughts on the October Municipal election:

1) A cake-walk through the park? It is really too early to tell whether Mayor Mandel will face an easy re-election in October. In the non-race for Mayor of 2007, second place challenger Don Koziak earned 25% while only running a semblance of a city-wide campaign. I would not underestimate the electoral potential of an even moderately organized & well-funded outsider/anti-Council candidate, especially if it looks like Mayor Mandel is going to cruise to another victory.

2) Opposition is split. Mayor Mandel enjoys wide-spread support and the opposition he does face appears to be fragmented around varying issues. The people who are furious about the closure of the Edmonton City Centre Airport or annoyed about the funding of the Art Gallery of Alberta are unlikely to vote for the same candidate as the people angry over the Capital Power-Epcor decision. At this point, no champion challenger apparent has emerged with the potential of galvanizing this dissent (watching Season 3 of The Wire has taught me that even two or three reasonable challengers could bleed a Mayor's support and create some interesting results).

3) What issues? There are no shortage of issues that I hope will be the focus of debate in this election (urban sprawl, inner city schools, regional amalgamation, and others that I plan to write about over the next six months), but the one issue that may have the potential to create a major wave is the Katz Group's desire to have the City of Edmonton to fund $400,000,000 for a new downtown arena. The Katz Group has hired long-time PC-insider Peter Elzinga as a lobbyist and launched a political campaign to "Revitalize Downtown" in advance of the election. Mayor Mandel was an early supporter of the downtown arena, but remains publicly coy about his position on the actual Katz Group proposal.

Meanwhile in Calgary, the race to replace retiring Mayor Dave Bronconnier remains eerily quiet. Former PC MLA Jon Lord and food activist Paul Hughes are in the race. Former Ontario NDP MPP George Dadamo entered the race last Summer and has since dropped off the political map. Game show contestant and Alderman Ric McIver is widely expected to join the race and an online campaign to draft Mount Royal University professor Naheed Nenshi is growing.


Anonymous said...

There's no doubt in my mind Liberal MLA and all-around good guy Kent Hehr is going to run for mayor of Calgary. He has been making the rounds.

Ric McIver's Overactive Eyelid said...

If Hehr runs I don't think Nenshi will be. Nenshi just wants the right progressive in the race and with his backstory and resume Hehr would be dynamite.

Anonymous said...

The Nenshi campaign appeals to the likes of Daveberta but not many others.

Anonymous said...

Kent Hehr would have zero sway with our current provincial government. Calgarians would do themselves a disservice if they elect him their mayor.

I'm no Mandel fan here in Edmonton, but at least he has the ear of various PC ministers. More than Hehr would ever get.

Kent Hehr's Future Mayoralty said...

Yeah ANON 9:52, because the PCs will be able to ignore the mayor of the largest city in the province.

And it's not like Calgary doesn't have a habit of electing Liberal mayors. Oh yeah, that's all Calgary elects. Bronconnier even ran for the federal Liberals.

But good luck with the Nenshi campaign. I hear half his facebook fans are even from Calgary!

Belive it! said...

My prediction the entire Liberal Calgary caucus resigns and runs for mayor against each other.

Anonymous said...

Darshan Kang for mayor! He'll get that airport tunnel built yet.

Michael said...

Where's the pushback against this new arena plan? I can't even find a facebook group... we need to start organizing.