Thursday, August 6, 2009

Municipal Rumblings

Nation, I - like the rest of you - sit around for much of the day pondering the mile-a-minute thrill-ride that is the race for municipal office. The long line-ups at polling stations, the 90% voter participation rate, and the long, open and vigorous debates about our city's future all make my spine tingle...

Okay. So maybe I'm forcing the issue JUST a little bit...

Nevertheless, there is, in fact, a municipal election coming to our Burg on the Bow, in October of 2010. And the rumblings are already beginning as to who may in fact be considering a run - either at "the big chair" or for aldermanic office.

Truth be told, municipal elections make for a fascinating study of retail politics. With the voter turn-out so embarrassingly low, the old adage that "the best Get Out The Vote operation wins" becomes etched-in-stone truth. People considering a run for city office in 14 months have to decide, and pronto, if they're actually going to go through with it... with no "party apparatus" to assist in fundraising, as we have at the higher levels of government, candidates face the monumental task of raising funds themselves, and without the ability to issue tax receipts. And while this is SLIGHTLY easier for incumbents and front-runners, the road to city hall is paved with the political carcasses of great, enthusiastic, visionary people who wanted to serve in city government, but couldn't raise enough money to get their message out to the masses.

Social media in general, and Twitter in particular, have levelled the playing field slightly, as candidates can get their message out to the "wired voter" for little or no cost. It's still only a drop in the bucket compared to a radio ad, direct mailer or ads on the side of a bus - but, it's a start. The web (in particular, Twitter) has also been buzzing with rumours of notable civic citizens considering a run, or "Draft such-and-such" movements.

Among the notables being mentioned (Wards for reference only, given changing boundaries and the fact that, for all I know, they're running for Mayor or school trustee, and not Alderman):

Steve Chapman - a friend of this blog, Chapman ran in 2007, for Ward 8 Alderman. He's big on law and order - the ideas (and maybe the t.v. show, for all I know - I'm more of an NCIS guy myself).
Lindsay Luhnau - also ran for Alderman of Ward 8 in 2007. A great candidate, who has a lot of great ideas for this city's future.
Jeremy Zhao - Another great, young mind - ran for Mayor in 2007. Answers currently to "the Alderman for Ward 15". Now runs PolitiCalgary blog.
DJ Kelly - good friend of this blog, arts activist, blogger, and all-around mensch. Understands this strange thing that much of council seems oblivious to - I believe it's called "nuance".
Zach Pashak - the Sled Island organizer has announced his intention to run in Ward 8. Reading his manifesto, one gets the idea he thinks that Ward 8 should declare itself an independent republic - or, at the very least, cut off tax dollars to the "sprawling suburbs". Because those million-dollar homes in the suburbs don't pay any taxes that go into, say, police officers who patrol Ward 8.
Naheed Nenshi - Chief cook and bottle-washer at the Better Calgary Campaign, instructor at Mount Royal College (GO COUGARS!), and well-known local political commentator. Has an inspiring vision for everything this city could be - if we're brave enough to make it so.
The Former Independent Candidate for Calgary-Egmont - While he's tied up in the current WAP leadership race, he's reportedly quite insistent that he has his eyes fixed on "bigger things". Reports persist, though, that he has his eyes set on running municipally in the ward that may be vacated by a sitting alderman-cum-mayoral candidate. TOTALLY unrelated note: Does anyone know what jersey number Patrick Marleau wears for the San Jose Sharks? Anyhow - with his organizational muscle, municipal politics is where this potential candidate could have the best chance of finding himself on the public's payroll.
Dave Breakenridge - While insisting that the effort would be better turned to that OTHER Breakenridge, this columnist for the Calgary Sun is the subject of a small-but-building "Draft Dave" campaign on Twitter - he's opinionated, and yet also willing to listen to arguments on the other side. A nice change from the current council.

On the other side of the ledger, names I have heard bandied about that I can assure you have NO intention of running municipally include:

Dan Arnold - Dan likes Calgary, don't get me wrong. But he's a little busy back east, trying to re-build the Liberal Party and gloating over the "Best Political Blog" title he stole from me in 2008. ;)
Kirk Schmidt - Kirk has settled into a life behind the scenes, politically - his interests lie elsewhere at this time.
Dave Taylor - The MLA for Calgary-Currie was rumoured to be mulling a run at the Mayor's chair. He's more likely to stay where he is, or pursue opportunities in his previous field.
The Enlightened Savage - While I'm flattered to be considered, I have my eyes fixed on another position, at another level of government. Stay tuned. :)

And, right in the middle of the page, we find a list of names that have been brought up in conversation, and would be interesting candidates yet have neither confirmed nor denied interest:

Cathie Williams - former school board trustee ran for MLA in 2008.
Joe Ceci - rumours have abounded that he has been considering a stab at the "big chair" - but with Bronco announcing he intends to run again, a split of the left wouldn't benefit Ceci at all.
Danielle Smith - obviously, she has bigger fish to fry at the moment. But many have pointed out that if she fails to win the Wildrose Alliance leadership in October, she's a very politically attractive candidate for mayor - straight-talking, fiscally conservative, socially moderate and benefiting from name recognition. She'd be seen as a mayor who could "stand up to the Provincial Government" without having to whine and pull cheap stunts, like other mayors who shall remain nameless.

DISCUSS, Nation - who would YOU like to see on the next council?


Anonymous said...

Oh, good Lord. Let's start the ABC (anybody but Chandler) movement now. Our council, as currently made up (with a couple of exceptions), is embarrassing enough as it is. On the other hand, if municipal election financing rules are implemented, Craig may go away on his own.

As a Ward 8 resident who has had dealings with John Mar, I actually regret not voting for Chapman. I never thought I would say that, given his PGIB affiliations, but at least you know where Chapman stands. Mar reminds me of the old Elzinga line (used in reference to an NDP member) about finding it hard to walk because of the splinters he had in his crotch from straddling the fence. I will be interested to see what Zak has to offer.

Can anybody tell me what Danielle has done? I'm not kidding. What, exactly, qualifies her to lead a rump political party, much less be Mayor of a major city?

Jeremy said...

It's my belief that Jeremy may be too radical for Calgary, but perhaps this is a necessity at the municipal polity in order to revitalize the local scene. In my opinion, there's not as much support to stomach another Jeremy run at this point. Perhaps radicalism through political humor and satire would suffice in getting people back on board. I'm not a fan of being elected, but I am a fan of progress as opposed to council fights.

Calgary Rants said...

I hope you are not planning to steal my MLA Spot in the deep SE one day? Especially if said riding splits? lol...

Brian Dell said...

What has Danielle Smith done? You mean in comparison to Ed Stelmach's resume? What did Barack Obama do besides act as a "community organizer" in Chicago and display his ignorance of economics by being one of the few fringers to vote for rent controls while an Illinois state senator?

Danielle actually knows something about policy and government.

Zak Pashak said...

Hey ES. Nice blog. I will definitely visit this more regularly. I'm sad that my note came across to you as too anti suburbs. A couple people mentioned similar concerns. I think the language I used may have made the message of frustration seem directed at the suburbs. It's not- I'm frustrated with council not focusing enough on the downtown and ways to make it as good as possible. I feel like we don't really have an Alderman in Ward 8 right now. I want to see a Ward 8 Alderman who will fight to keep a focus on positive downtown development. I'm all for suburban tax dollars being spent in the suburbs- I want a Ward 8 Alderman who will make sure that Ward 8 is a priority and that a representational percentage of tax dollars are spent here. I think a solid downtown with great local businesses, safe walkable streets, public spaces and public transit benefits everyone in Calgary. I believe practical, strong representation in Ward 8 will help us get there. I've thrown my name into this because I have the experience and passion to do this job well.

Anonymous said...

Answer the question, Brian. What has she done? Ed served as a county councillor, a reeve and then as an MLA for 14 years. And with respect, comparing Danielle to Obama is a travesty. Your girl has a completely pedestrian record. As one newsletter writer put it, she has "an impressive list of hypothetical accomplishments." If you can prove that's untrue, then do so, or quit wasting my time.

Anonymous said...

The biggest joke of those names is not Chandler, although he's a close second. Naheed Nenshi is the last guy we need on council. He thinks he's smarter than any one of us and is boastful enough to tell us exactly how smart he is.

He should stick to the classroom where the amount of damage he can inflict can be confined.

calgarygrit said...

I can neither confirm nor deny these rumours... ;-)

Kirk Schmidt said...

I wouldn't want Kirk to run for politics. He's a jerk, and an idiot, and I hear he talks about himself in the third person. Weird.

@Anon on Aug10/9:10pm
Every politician thinks he/she is better. I don't know much about Mr. Nenshi since I tend to follow Federal, but I would want to know if, *despite* what you suggest, if he listens and considers the ideas and suggestions of others. If so, let him be boastful. If not, let him be judged in that capacity.

Jason Allen said...

At the risk of being elitist, Naheed IS smarter than almost any of us - I've known him for almost 30 years, and he is extraordinarily bright. He is also extremely thoughtful, considers all the angles, does his homework, and respects the opinions of others - not to say he doesn't know enough facts to argue you into the ground, but he will listen thoughtfully before he dismantles your point of view. He would be an asset to council - that being said, I think he has only a very outside chance of winning.