Calgary’s New City Council
While the big story of Monday night was Naheed Nenshi’s big mayoral win, there was sufficient drama in the aldermanic races to add excitement to the evening. Entering the campaign it was known that a few incumbents might be up for a fight, and that was indeed the case. In addition, there were 4 vacant seats to be filled and those wards were interesting to watch. Below is a brief summary of each ward, and what we can possibly expect from the new council.
It makes the most sense to go through the wards chronologically, so here we go. In Ward 1, longtime (long, longtime) incumbent Dale Hodges ran for his tenth term on city council. He was originally elected in 1983. Not surprisingly, he won again last night. He beat second place finisher Chris Harper with 41% and a 5,000 vote lead. Harper, was pushing for increased transit to the far northwest ward, and increased policing. While Hodges service on council is well respected, it has to be assumed he will retire at some point, and Ward 1 will be competitive again.
Ward 2 saw a closer race than many had anticipated. Incumber Gord Lowe was seeking his fourth on council. In the end he prevailed against Joe Magliocca. This translated to 43% of the total and just over 1,000 more than Magliocca. Similar to Ward 1, both Lowe and Magliocca advocated for improved transit to the outlying ward, and increased safety. While Magliocca did not win, his website states his intentions to run again in 2013. We already have our first race for the next cycle.
Jim Stevenson is the incumbent who ran again in Ward 3. A large ward, this is one of the areas of the city where discussion of the airport tunnel has much support. Stevenson’s chief political opponent was Helene Larocque, former alderman who was defeated by Stevenson in 2007. Larocque noted she had been pushed by many in the community to make a run for her seat again. In the end, Stevenson won handily, with an over 7,000 vote lead against Larocque.
Ward 4 is the first of the four wards to be evaluated which had no incumbent running. For the election, 12 candidates put their names forward making for a difficult decision for the residents. Many candidates focused on the textbook issues of the campaign such as fiscal management, more accountability, with few candidates making definitive statement regarding their plans as alderman. Once the votes were counted, Gael MacLeod, a long time ward resident with a strong business background, will be headed to city hall. She won with 25% of the vote, followed by Sean Chu and Jane Morgan.
One of Calgary’s most ethnically diverse areas, Ward 5 proved to be not much of a contest. Ray Jones who has held the ward since 1993 cruised to an easy victory with 62% of the vote and an 8,824 vote advantage. He noted that he was very confident that he would be victorious, and he was correct. Finishing a distant second was Jay Bal, who supported the airport tunnel, increased security and better fiscal management at city hall.
In Ward 6, the job was wide open. This occurred after Joe Connelly (perhaps foolishly) decided to run for mayor after only one term as alderman on council. Regardless, the seat went to Richard Pootmans, who secured the seat on council with 31% of the vote, a fairly comfortable lead over second place Brent Mielke. Pootmans is well educated, with business and finance experience. Some of his proposals dealt with traffic problems and the issue with the city auditor.
Oh Ward 7, one of the afore mentioned wards that provided excitement to the evening. Incumber alderman Druh Farrell, who has sat on council since 2001, has taken her (fair) share of criticisms. She was known as a strong supporter of Mayor Bronconnier, which often did not win her any votes. In addition, her involvement with the notorious ‘Peace Bridge’ added more doubt into the mix. Her challenger Kevin Taylor made no qualms about the fact he was running due to growing opposition to Farrell’s decisions as alderman. This ward flip flopped all night, and when I finally went to bed the riding was leaning towards Taylor. However once I checked this morning, I saw Farrell had squeaked out a victory. She beat Taylor by 1,252 votes and likely had a very sleepless night.
If anybody is tired of reading, or getting bored, we are half way done, so just hang in there! Ward 8, one of Calgary’s inner city wards, is currently held by John Mar. He defeated the incumbent candidate to win in 2007 and hoped the same fate would not befall him. He did manage to retain his seat, but not without a formidable challenge from second place Zak Pashak, a longtime resident and small business owner. Mar won by just over 2,500 votes. The issues dealt with for ward 8 residents included crime and affordable housing.
Joe Ceci’s decision not to seek reelection left Ward 9 open to a new candidate. The ward went to Gian-Carlo Carra. Carra was victorious by only 495 votes over second place finisher Mike Pal. This was the closest victory of all the ridings, and made for some good television. Carra, a citizen of both Canada and the United States, advocated stronger leadership and a more local approach to running communities. Pal is well known for his 2004 bid to become mayor, when he was a university student. Since then he has remained active in politics and municipal issues.
Ward 10 can be summed up in the following sentence. Incumbent Andre Chabot was reelected. The first incumbent of the night to be declared, Chabot won with an over 11,000 vote lead and 78% of the total votes. Suffice to say the residents of Ward 10 are very happy with Chabot, who seems to have effectively put the Danielson-Aftergood voting debacle to rest once and for all. Chabot’s closest rival was Robert Kennish.
SImilarly to Farrell, incumbent Brian Pincott had a very stressful night in Ward 11. Early returns saw him trailing Ernest McCutcheon early, then later trailing James Maxim. In the end Pincott pulled out a victory, beating Maxim with 35% of the vote. Maxim had a detailed 14 point plan about what he would do as alderman, but was unable to take the seat away from Pincott. A few of the issues in Ward 11 include the peace bridge, affordable housing and transportation.
Ward 12, the ward vacated by Ric McIver, is the last of the four wards with no incumbent running. In this race, school principal Shane Keating took the ward. His closest competitor, businessman Al Browne finished 2,384 votes behind Keating. The new alderman has some very big shoes to fill. Keating’s predecessor McIver was one of the most vocal and prominent alderman on council. First impressions appear that Keating will be less vocal than McIver, but only time will tell.
Diane Colley-Urquhart easily won in her bid for reelection in Ward 13. She won with 53% of the vote and almost a 6,000 vote lead. It seems as though Colley-Urquhart is nearing her end of time on council. She unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the provincial legislature and was rumoured to be considering a run at the mayor’s chair. It would seem that Colley-Urquhart is ready to move on to bigger and better things. That could mean second place challenger Sandy Jenkins could have a shot in 2013.
Going into this election it was widely known that incumbent Linda Fox-Mellway was in for a serious challenge for her seat in Ward 14. A veteran on council who was acclaimed in 2007, Fox-Mellway was growing unpopular with her residents. Challenging her were Peter Demong, Richard Dur and Shawn Kao. Fox-Mellway did go down to defeat, but the surprise of the night was that she finished fourth. The race was not close for the incumbent. The winning candidate was Demong, who will be joining council. Demong touted his business foundation as one of his strongest attributes he will bring to council.
UPDATE: It was announced today (October 21) Ward 14 is currently having a recount. Not sure the reason why, or the implications as of yet. Returning officer said not initiated by candidate. Is there a scandal looming? I can’t wait until the local media turns this into a firestorm. Stay tuned!
So there you have it. The fourteen men and women who will be joining Nenshi and leading Calgary for the next three years. Most notable are the five new faces, who could become Nenshi’s biggest allies on council. Without any previous ties to other members, Nenshi needs to work to get their support early. It will be interesting to see how Farrell and Colley-Urquhart conduct themselves in this term. They have been some of Bronconnier’s biggest allies and they could support the new mayor or move in their own direction. None the less, it will be interesting to watch.