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Only five of the 15 candidates for mayor attended a forum at the Calgary Science School on Thursday. ((CBC))

There are so many mayoral forums scheduled before the municipal election on Oct. 18 that candidates are having to pick and choose their battles.

With as many as four forums in one day, trying to jam in as much as they can has proven a challenge for some mayoral candidates.

At a forum in Chinatown earlier this week, only eight out of the 15 candidates were present.

Ric McIver was on hand, but there have been other forums where he's not been on the podium.

He said it's all a function of scheduling and reality — you just can't get to all of them.

"You gotta set priorities," said McIver. "It's kind of like running a city. You can't do everything, so you try to do as much as you can and you try to do the things that you think are the most important."

Front-runners must choose carefully

Barb Higgins said she just tries to get a good cross section of issues.

"You don't want to go to three that all kind of deal with the same kind of thing," she said. "You know, it's kind of hard to get to the [community] association ones, so those are probably the first ones to let go."

Higgins also said some forum formats tend to become a bit like a zoo, with little time to actually answer questions.

One political analyst said that if candidates find this process taxing, they should just wait for the duties of office.

"If you can't handle a one-month or even two-month electoral campaign, how are you going to handle the pressure of running one of the most major cities in the country," said Duane Bratt, a political science professor at Mount Royal University.

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Political analyst Duane Bratt says candidates consider how many voters will be at a forum, who is hosting it and which other candidates will attend, when considering what forums to go to.

Which forum's important, said Bratt, comes down to how many likely voters will be there, who is hosting it, and which other candidates will be showing up.

Bratt said that when it comes to the front-runners, choosing which forum to attend is of particular importance because they have much more to lose than their competitors.

"If you're the front-runner, you get ganged up on at these forums, so you have to make enough of them to make an appearance but not so much that you get beat up over the course of the day," he said.

Naheed Nenshi said he makes it to all of the forums.

"I have a brilliant and wonderful volunteer whose job it is to drive me around and get me to places on time," said Nenshi.

Bratt said participation in mayoral forums is about more than just making an appearance. Getting their point across quickly and holding the public's interest is ultimately what will help put one candidate in the mayor's chair, he said.