Monday, March 3, 2008

The Race For Calgary West

Peter Lougheed himself held this seat for years - Federally, this area has in the past voted for Rob Anders (although, I suspect they'll be voting for Kirk Schmidt in 2008). Despite its conservative credentials, it was captured by the Liberals for a term in the 1993 election, before returning to the fold in 1997.It is currently held by Ron Liepert, who is seeking re-election.

Made up of many older neighbourhoods and a few new ones, the local issues in Calgary West tend to be a lack of schools nearby, roads, and transit (which the city is dealing with).

The Candidates:
Ron Liepert (PC)
Beth Gignac (Lib)
Chantelle Dubois (NDP)
Bob Babcock (WAP)
James Kohut (Grn)

Ron Liepert is the former press secretary to Premier Peter Lougheed, and as such has a history of knowing the riding and its issues. Elected to his first term as MLA in 2004, Liepert is seen by many to be an effective voice for the riding. Liepert was largely responsible, as Minister of Education, for the recent resolution to the unfunded pension liability issue which has ensured labour peace with teachers for the next 5 years. He's generally regarded as the front-runner here, and with good reason.

Beth Gignac is a fiery advocate for arts and culture. The City of Calgary's Manager of Arts and Culture (I know, I had no idea we had one of those either!) is trying to close a 2,700-vote gap from the 2004 election. Although there will be some protest votes headed her way, she's in tough against a strong incumbent who sits in Cabinet. Don't bet on her to pull this off, although - if she gets out her voters, and the appetite for change in Calgary West is greater than most suggest, she's the NEXT best bet.

Chantelle Dubois is a CPR employee and teaches music in the Canadian Cadets. A graduate of the University of Lethbridge (GO PRONGHORNS!), Dubois ran here for the NDP in 2004 and pulled in 434 votes. She'll be looking to better that mark this time around.

Bob Babcock has one of the best looking websites in the entire Wildrose Alliance. A former social worker and addictions counsellor, Babcock makes his living with an oilfield snubbing service company. Refreshingly candid, Bob makes no bones about the fact that he's not going to be part of a new government: He's running to get a sensible opposition in the Legislature. The former soldier has the right idea, and if his campaign is being run with military efficiency, he may have a shot. At issue is whether he'll be able to win over the elderly voters of the riding - there are a LOT of them. As they go, so goes the riding.

James Kohut is an interesting choice for the Greens here. The outspoken advocate for electoral reform has run for office on virtually every level imaginable - while this gives him name recognition, it also makes it easy to dismiss him as a "losing candidate". Having worked in the oilsands, Kohut has seen first-hand the kind of things that go on up on the rigs, and his first-hand knowledge is useful to the Greens - I just can't see him finishing better than 4th here. He did, in fact, finish 4th in Calgary West in 2004, picking up 732 votes.

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