Thursday, April 30, 2009

Municipal Madness

Well, Nation - we're a scant 16 months from Calgary's next Municipal Election, and already the dominoes are rumoured to be falling.

What was already certain to be an interesting election - given the unpredictability of the voter turn-out and the significant re-drawing of ward boundaries - will be ramped up a notch with an actual, honest-to-goodness race for Mayor this time around, as one of the current Aldermen (does anyone know the square root of 144?) is rumoured to be targeting the current spend-and-cry officeholder.

Of course, that presupposes that the current officeholder is even interested in running for the job again. He's certainly raising money, but in a textbook illustration of one of the delightful little quirks of our current system, he could very well decide to take that campaign war chest, drop out of the race and go on the mother of all Vegas benders. Once it's donated, it's his money, to do with as he pleases. Oversight, overschmite.

The boundaries for the wards, by the way, are far from set in stone. Despite what you've read on this blog, among many other less reliable (obviously!) sources, the recommendations of earlier this Winter have been shelved, and (as reported by Don Braid) the new ward boundaries will be determined by gerrymandering, behind closed doors, in the near future.

There are already rumours of several notable locals considering a run at Aldermanic office. Linda Fox-Mellway may be facing a legitimate challenge in Ward 14 (in 2007 she was acclaimed). North-East Calgary (ward to be determined, pending boundary re-drawing) is rumoured to be facing a ballot featuring the name of Friend Of Enlightened Savage Naheed Nenshi, of the Better Calgary Campaign (Naheed, by the way, would be an absolutely spectacular Alderman - his politics and mine vary somewhat, but he is of the highest character with great vision and would be a tremendous asset to the citizens of Calgary within their municipal government). And a ward that may find itself in need of an Alderman after the mayoral candidates are announced (how many faces are on a dodecahedron? Anyone?) is rumoured to be coveted by a former independent provincial candidate of some renown in the neighbourhood.

Aldermanic campaigns are tough to call, but the one universal truth to them is that the best organized campaign almost always wins. With such low voter participation, the campaign that establishes an edge in name recognition and runs the best Get Out The Vote organization will win. Potential candidates should be getting their ducks in a row NOW, if they hope to have any chance of defeating incumbents, or candidates with built-in organizations.

Also in the news: If you live in North-East Calgary, and your office isn't in your basement, you'll want to be taking a serious look at attending tonight's Open House on the new airport runway and the proposed tunnel underneath it - if a tunnel or alternative free-flow route doesn't get built, traffic will be an absolute NIGHTMARE in the North-East trying to drive East-to-West or vice versa, Ring Road be damned. The Open House is tonight at the Inglewood Community Hall, 174 24th Ave. S.E., running from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.


Calgary Rants said...

Nice to see your back! I personally cannot wait until 2010. Good times!

Anonymous said...

The election will be exciting if current aldermen continue to be somewhat daft.

Last election set a record for incumbents being defeated. 2010 will be better.

Anonymous said...

Am glad to see you weigh in on the local government scene. The current mayor and council have been very good at one thing--they have the attention of a lot of voters that really ignored them previously. And not in a good way!

We have a mayor who does not realize that there is only one taxpayer, regardless of the level of government to whom that tax dollar is paid.

We have a number of aldermen who, as well, have absolutely no concept of the reality of what the voter wants. (Druh, really and try to be practical and serious, how many of the folks in your ward want Memorial Drive closed at any time?)

The real question, my ES friend, is who is going to step up and take the place of this dysfunctional bunch?

Oh, and I, too, will have many differences of political view with Mr. Nenshi, but I don't want him taking the place of Hodges. So, pick another ward, I want someone with a more conservative approach to take Hodges spot.

Don O'Beirne said...

I'm all in favour of Naheed taking on the proposed west side of Ward 3, should the ward split as planned at the Deerfoot. The current Ward 3 alderman, Jim Stevenson, is the ONLY person of note taking on the Airport Tunnel issue and has been working on this file since before he was an Alderman.

I'd also be interested to see Naheed take on George Chahal, should George decide to run again, but seeing as Naheed and his merry band endorsed Chahal last time around then that may not happen.

Jeremy said...

I remember that my mayoral campaign started from blogs and for that I am very grateful and I want to thank you for your support.

However, I question whether or not we as bloggers should be so concentrated on who wins, but rather to help people make informed decisions by educating them. We need to make them understand the issues with the knowledge and background. The internet is going to be the source of civic information during election time, and we have a chance instead of playing the rumor game to educate Calgarians. I don't care who wins, but I know many do, but they don't know much about municipal politics.

Enlightened Savage said...

Jeremy: Thanks for your thoughts. Your candidacy was a breath of fresh air, and was a pleasure to cover. :)

I agree that providing actual, solid and verifiable information is preferable to reporting on rumours - and I try to do so whenever possible. The lead-up to this next municipal election is, so far, very quiet - the only thing to talk about, when discussing candidates, is who MIGHT be running, where, against whom - because nobody has declared yet.

I've railed about the state of transit in this city, as well as snow removal, the Bridge to Nowhere, and many other civic issues. Rest assured, this will continue in the lead-up to 2010. :)

As bloggers, we have one other obligation in the civic process: We can be the public record of who voted for what motions and proposals - or, at least, as much as that information is available to the public. We can (and will, I imagine) put out lists of who voted for Bronco's Bridge, and who voted to put off the building of any of the dozen or so firehalls that this city is short of right now.

Bloggers never sleep - that's why they invented Red Bull. Daylight is the best disinfectant - and this council needs a lot of disinfecting.