Well, Nation, nobody suggested that this year's Calgary mayoral race was going to be boring...
Kent Hehr, Liberal MLA for Calgary-Buffalo, announced today his intention to seek the office of Mayor for the City of Calgary.
This seems a little unexpected to many - I have to admit that I was made aware of the "98% certainty" of Hehr's decision last week, however even then I was totally unaware of the immediacy of that decision being announced. This sounds like Kent was trying to get his announcement out before someone else who appeals to the same demographic - Dave Taylor, perhaps? - could get the drop on him and steal his thunder.
One of Hehr's primary arguments in favour of his candidacy is his perception that choosing a mayor who has been on the current council would result in a great deal of baggage coming with the new mayor. Certainly, the sniping that we've seen among council members isn't likely to change with one of the current bunch just switching chairs and getting to hold the gavel - but, we all know that the new mayor isn't going to be the only change on council... not by a LONG shot.
Bob Hawkesworth won't be on council, unless it's as mayor. Ditto for Joe Connelly. And for Ric McIver. And possibly for others as well... they can't ALL be mayor, which means there will be new faces and a new dynamic in council chambers come late October.
If Hehr is successful in his bid to become Mayor of Calgary, he will of course have to resign his seat in the Legislative Assembly - which, while not "safe" for the Liberals electorally, is certainly safer than some others (Currie/Killarney, for example). The Alberta Liberals will have to move quickly after the civic election to find a suitable candidate to replace Hehr in the ensuing by-election, as Hehr's resignation as MLA for Buffalo would be a full 17 months before the next provincial election is expected. Likewise for the PC's, NDP, and the Wildrose Alliance. David Swann is probably a little worried about this, but even HE was wearing the "Hehr for Mayor" buttons that were making the rounds on the Liberal benches as a joke this past March - whoops.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I like Kent Hehr. He's got common sense - an uncommon trait in a lawyer and politician. He's principled. He's one of the hardest working politicians I've ever seen. He's a young face (40 years old) in what is a business usually reserved for the "55-and-up" crowd. It was a point of aggravation to me that we found ourselves on different sides of the provincial political divide - and I think he'd make a hell of a good mayor (not that he's the ONLY one who would - but still).
Suddenly, this isn't seeming like such a bad idea, huh?
(Tomorrow, we talk about the biggest thing MISSING from this year's mayoral race at this point.)
This post is cross-posted to CalgaryPolitics.com