Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Morning After - Municipal Election Round-Up

Nation, those of you who have participated in the youthful rite-of-passage known as the "ONS" (one night stand) are familiar with what happens the morning after... you wake up, look yourself in the mirror, and try to figure out what exactly happened the night before. Maybe you overdid it a little, or you got lost in the moment, but now that you've sobered up, you have to deal with the fall-out from the choice you made last night.

Such is the feeling that Calgarians have this morning. Let's look at the results, and talk a bit about what happened last night, and why.

First, the turn-out. Although exact numbers are still forthcoming, the number of votes cast for Mayor has gone up by 90,000 votes over 2004 - an increase of 75%. In part, this is because of the fact that there was a legitimate challenger to the incumbent. In part, it's the weather. And in part, it's the fact that people just flat-out wanted a say in what happens with their city council.

Dave Bronconnier has been re-elected by a wide margin. The total number of votes for Mayor Bronco actually went up over 2004, by close to 34,000 votes. The PROBLEM for Bronco lies in the fact that his share of the popular vote dropped by 18 percent. His victory speech last night crowed about his overwhelming mandate, and made it sound as though he was going to stick to his guns, as always, and do nothing but what he promisd in the campaign. It shouldn't be lost on Bronco, though, that 39% of those who bothered to vote yesterday cast their ballotts for someone other than him. Calgarians still believe he's the man for the job, but not in the numbers that they did 3 years ago. What has happened in this city over the past 3 years has convinced 18 out of every 100 "Bronco" voters from 2004 that somebody else deserved their vote.

Among the issues that Calgarians want Bronco and the new council to deal with (despite his brave "they want exactly what I offered them" face last night):

  • Council Transparency
  1. A formal record of all council votes
  2. Campaign finance reform
  3. Full disclosure of donors BEFORE voting day
  • Affordable Housing
  1. Expansion of capacity and units
  2. Secondary suites - NOT the $25,000 / 20 year-plan Bronco championed (universally panned as an unrealistic farce of a proposal)
  • Transportation
  1. Re-routing of the Westward LRT line
  2. South West ring-road
  3. Expansion of C-Train service and capacity
  • Public Safety
  1. Increased funding for the Calgary Police, Fire and EMS departments
  • Environment
  1. Expansion of curbside recycling to include high density housing
  2. Snow removal (a perrennial complaint)
  3. Protection of the Bow and Elbow watershed, both within and UPSTREAM of the city limits

As far as the council votes go, Calgarians sent a message last night that they expect their elected officials to deal with THEIR concerns - they want to be served. In most ridings where there was a poor incumbent and good challengers (with the exception of Ward 1), the challengers carried the day. Calgarians stood up yesterday and declared that they expect action, and answers, from the people who exercise their franchise. I hope that council gets the message.

On a related note, I really enjoyed the CBC Radio One coverage of the results last night. It could have gone another hour, as the numbers were still in a state of flux when the "blanket coverage" ended, but overall it was a very enlightening show. Kudos to Naheed Nenshi of the Better Calgary Campaign for his on-the-spot analysis. :)

Nation, you came out yesterday and made your voice heard. Now, it's your democratic obligation to make sure it remains heard for the next 3 years. Be at council meetings. If we can't get a formal record of council proceedings, show up when you can and make your OWN record - I'll post it here. Hold these people accountable - most of what you do, from the morning commute to the party across the alley that keeps you up at night, is affected by this council.

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