The imminent re-election of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi on Oct. 21 makes all other facets of the 2013 Calgary election less compelling, but there are a number of things to watch in the lead up to Monday’s vote.
Calgary mayoralty re-election campaigns are not known for their drama, or their high participation rates. Despite Nenshi’s attempt to encourage voter participation through his votepledge.ca, ROI’s analysis forecasts a turnout of about 22 per cent.
Nenshi’s predecessor Dave Bronconnier captured 82 per cent of the vote for his first re-election in 2004, but the turnout was a dismal 19 per cent.
Nenshi’s team will want to eclipse both of those marks. But given the adulation Nenshi has received in the past six months, don’t be surprised if Nenshi wants to top Al Duerr’s record of 92 per cent support in his first re-election campaign in 1992.
If there is any drama at all on Monday, it will be at the ward level.
By all accounts, Wards 4 and 7 are very close races, with Nenshi supporters pulling out all the stops in both areas to try to re-elect Gael MacLeod (Ward 4) and Druh Farrell (Ward 7).
The race in Ward 4 has heated up considerably in the past week, with both MacLeod and her main challenger, Sean Chu, establishing significant social media presence.
Nenshi’s team may save MacLeod, but they can’t be everywhere. So, look for an upset in either Ward 4 or Ward 7, where Farrell is in a tough three-way fight to retain her seat.
Other challengers with a chance to knock off incumbents include James Maxim in Ward 11. He’s running against die-hard Nenshi ally Brian Pincott.
Former alderman Joe Connelly is attempting to regain his Ward 6 seat against another one of Nenshi’s council team, incumbent Richard Pootmans.
However, Ward 6 is strangely quiet on the social media front. That could indicate the Connelly team has not had enough time to mount its campaign to unseat Pootmans. Connelly only entered the race in September.
The clash between Ward 8 incumbent John Mar and challenger Evan Woolley is definitely loud in social media circles, but the result is likely to be Mar’s re-election because of his stronger community connections and highly engaged social media network.
In the open northwest Calgary wards, look for Chris Harper to leverage social media to get out his support on Monday in Ward 1. In Ward 2, Bernie Dowhan will seek to capitalize on his social media lead over Joe Magliocca.
If incumbents lose in two or three of the four contested wards (4, 6, 7 and 11), the real drama will begin on Oct. 22 when a re-elected Nenshi tries to work with council colleagues who owe nothing to his big purple coattails.