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The three city councillors running for Calgary mayor are way ahead in the polls. I asked a few other candidates how they intend to overcome that gap
Polls for the upcoming Calgary municipal election have consistently suggested a two-way race between rookie city councillors Jeremy Farkas and Jyoti Gondek, with Jeff Davison — another rookie councillor — languishing in third.
While polling has been sparse for the election, the most recent data from Léger, which was compiled from Oct. 1-4, has Gondek, who describes herself as “completely a centrist,” in the lead at 27%, right-wing populist Farkas at 24%, and Davison, a more establishment conservative, at 12%.
But there are 24 other people running for Calgary mayor, with varying degrees of seriousness. These candidates don’t have the benefit of name recognition and experience on council that the incumbents have.
Brad Field, who told The Orchard he’s been planning a mayoral campaign since early-2018, came in fourth in the Léger survey with 5% support.
Field said building a public profile has been somewhat challenging, but boasts that he has the highest profile among non-councillor candidates.
“If you’re a citizen and you’re happy with what’s gone on in the last term, then you have three choices,” Field said. “[But] if you want real change at city hall, then you have to go with an outsider like myself.”
He emphasizes that he’s not a “career politician”, and vows to serve two terms before “pass[ing] the baton off to the next capable person.” (Sound familiar?)
Field likens his underdog status to outgoing Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who came from behind in 2010 to defeat two frontrunners — former councillor Ric McIver (now Alberta’s municipal affairs minister) and CTV broadcaster Barb Higgins.
Placing fifth in the Léger poll is YWCA executive director Jan Damery, with 3%, who bills herself as the authentic progressive candidate in the race.
How to overcome the built-in advantage of the three councillors running is the “Million Dollar Question,” Damery told The Orchard at an Oct. 1 online platform unveiling .
“You’ve essentially had three councillors who’ve been on council running for mayor for four years,” she said. “Look at the way they’ve behaved. They have not been able to collaborate as a council, because they’ve actually been trying to out-position each other and challenge the existing leadership on council.”
Damery said she’s tried to overcome the polling gap by taking a lead on policy, citing her call for vaccine passports in late-July — two months before council approved them at a special meeting, with Gondek and Davison in favour, and Farkas opposed.
Finally, another 3% of decided and leaning voters are supporting other candidates.1 One of them is professional musician James Desautels, who played violin on the theme song to the U.S. version of The Office.
Desautels, who says he’s forsaking election signs because they contribute to “visual pollution,” told The Orchard that we need a “paradigm shift” in how we do municipal politics.
He says on overreliance on polling for inclusion in debates creates a self-fulfilling prophecy, where candidates who aren’t polling above a threshold aren’t given the opportunity to improve their polling numbers.
“There has to be a different way. There has to be a way where the so-called ‘front-runner candidates’ aren’t corporate stamps,” he said, pointing towards the developer cash that funds the frontrunners’ campaigns.
”The majority of Calgarians aren’t corporate-serving. The majority of Calgarians don’t have access to the necessary resources … to the necessary capital [to run for mayor].”
In other news …
Fringe Calgary mayoral candidate Kevin J. Johnston has been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for calling the owner of popular Paramount Fine Foods, a prominent Middle Eastern restaurant chain in Toronto, a “terrorist” and “baby killer” after being court-ordered not to do so.
In 2019, an Ontario Superior Court Justice ordered Johnston to pay $2.5 million in restitution for racist, defamatory comments he made against Mohamad Fakih dating back to July 2017. Those funds remain unpaid.
Johnston will begin serving his sentence for contempt of court on Jan. 4, 2022, when he is allowed back into Ontario. He’ll begin serving a 40-day weekend sentence in Calgary on Oct. 22 for a separate contempt of court conviction related to his anti-mask agitation.
From the CBC: In Calgary, mayoral candidates who are convicted of crimes can still run for mayor as long as they don't owe the city money and haven't broken any election laws.
The Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB) is pleading with the province to implement some firebreak measures, including at least two weeks of online-only learning, to control the spread of COVID in EPSB schools after the government abandoned notifying parents of positive cases, contact tracing and isolation in September.
As usual, the government’s response was to do the absolute bare minimum, resuming public reporting of cases in schools starting today and bringing contact tracing back to schools starting next week.
As of writing, there have been 699 self-reported COVID cases across 175 public schools in Edmonton, as well as 55 cases among staff, since the beginning of the school year.
Edited by Ximena González