Chahal's issues for the riding include:
- Affordable Housing
- Creating Healthy and livable communities
- Environmental Responsibility
- Integrity & Accountability
- Transportation & Infrastructure
The Chahal campaign website is located here.
Helene Larocque is coming off her first term as Alderman. Her term has been wrought with internal squabbling in the Ward, and she is widely considered to be at risk of losing the seat, as several community groups have very publicly come out against her in recent months. Typical complains include not returning phone calls from residents, her "abrasive" personality, and her need to "Larocque-ize" everything - with one executive of a community association suggesting that if they installed a new porta-potty, Helene would want to stage a photo-op and ribbon-cutting for it.
Larocque's big issues include:
- C-Train expansion
- Traffic conjestion and subsequent pollution
- Recycling programs
- Environmental concerns
Helene's website can be found here.
Jim Stevenson is a Calgary businessman with 25 years of volunteer experience in the ward. He has a blog on his campaign website (kudos), but hasn't updated it in several days (Pssst! Hey, Jim... there's an election going on, dude...). He is generally considered to be the biggest challenger to the incumbent in this ward.
Stevenson's vision for Ward 3 includes:
- Reliable transportation systems
- Building commerce centres near communities
- New schools for the Ward
- Well-planned neighbourhoods
- Improved recreational opportunities
There will be a debate between candidates for this seat on city council on October 11th - at the Saddleridge Community Hall, 7:00 pm.
Northern Hills Community Association (NHCA) Forum was great theatre, but Buddies with Bucks no-show for Stephenson.
By Robert Macquarrie
The NHCA Forum was an excellent piece of local political theatre and congratulations to the Association for hosting the event in Ward 3 on October 1. The candidates for Ward 3 Aldermen and the Public and Catholic School Boards were in attendance.
The day began with some unusual political fireworks. An group of angry Ward 3 residents took the unusual step of erecting the equivalent of "Down with Larocque .. take her to the gallows" billboards about alleged unanswered correspondence. As these billboards appeared on the day of the candidate's forum one could almost anticipate the group lying in wait for her as the event approached. They did not disappoint. But it was unfortunate their questions to Ms. Larocque were of such a confusing nature they were difficult to understand ... and therefore difficult to answer. The angry group also engaged in some unfortunate snarking at the Moderator who handled the Forum with a great deal of skill and generosity.
The Candidates for both School Boards spoke well about their passion for the education of our children and fielded questions respectfully with various levels of experience. But the drama of the evening clearly lay elsewhere.
Aldermanic candidates George Chahal and Jim Stephenson have different styles but both performed well in the Forum. Mr. Chahal, a clever and engaging fellow, was primarily offering his education in Urban Planning as a solution to some of the growth pressures in Ward 3. He and Larocque seemed to be on the same page in many areas of future planning in the City. Mr. Stephenson, expansive and experienced, noted his lengthy community service, his passion for municipal affairs and his strong relationships in the Conservative Party that could be put to work for the benefit of Ward 3. Mr. Stephenson is President of the Conservative Association in the Federal riding of Calgary North East.
Alderman Larocque, the Ward 3 incumbent, performed strongly as well, and in somewhat more difficult initial circumstances. Larocque clearly had a command of Council procedures and was on top of the many issues in the community.
One of the most interesting points raised at the forum was during an exchange between Mr. Stephenson and Ms Larocque. Ms Larocque was talking about her success in expediting transportation projects and was speaking about the status of the North Central CTrain Line. Upset with the state of transportation in Calgary Mr. Stephenson said we shouldn't have to wait 20 years to develop an exceptional public transit system - we need more CTrains, express busses and commuter nodes now! Well, you can almost hear the crowd shout "HORAY!!" But this is where it becomes confusing for Mr. Stephenson.
Earlier in the evening he talked about his strong relationships in the Conservative Party and how those relationships could be leveraged to get results for Ward 3. But if Mr. Stephenson is so well connected with the Conservatives then questions must be asked as to why those relationships have not been leveraged already? Why have provincial Conservatives who are running massive surpluses starved municipalities of cash for badly needed services? And why have the federal Conservatives just put a $14 billion surplus towards debt reduction (and a paltry $35.00 tax break for Canadians) without a penny of that money going to the Calgary public transit system. The situation is really quite absurd. Calgarians are holding bake sales and bottle drives to raise funds for things like recreations centres and Mr. Stephenson supports the policies of the federal Conservatives that won't turn over a penny of a $14 billion surplus so Calgary and other cities can build decent public transportation systems and support community services.
If Mr. Stephenson was really so influential within Conservative circles could he not have already exploited his relationships for at least a trickle of cash from Ottawa's Tories for a few busses or CTrains? It's curious he is blaming the current Mayor and City Council for a problem created by federal policies that he himself supports. But then, that's politics.
It's unfortunate that after Mr. Stephenson extolled the importance of his strong Conservative relationships and the wonders they could produce for Ward 3 his Buddies with Bucks in Ottawa have not showed up to help Calgary's situation. Fourteen billion dollars would buy a lot of busses and CTrains. If Mr. Stephenson's Buddies with Bucks have not showed up for him as a Conservative Association President why should Calgarians have confidence they will show up for him as an Alderman? Mr. Stephenson was not asked this question during the form, and that's a shame. Because it surely would have generated an interesting exchange to close out an evening of excellent political drama.
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