Luck, familiar name can win open wards in Calgary election

Calgarians are guaranteed to see at least two new faces at the city council table after this month's election.

Election strategist Stephen Carter says races for wards 1 and 2 could be unpredictable

Political strategist Stephen Carter says the races in Calgary's two wards with no incumbent candidates could be very unpredictable. Retiring aldermen will guarantee at least two new faces on council. (CBC) (CBC)

Calgarians are guaranteed to see at least two new faces at the city council table after this month's election.

That’s because the races for Ward 1 and Ward 2 have no incumbents, with veteran aldermen Dale Hodges and Gord Lowe not running again.

According to political strategist Stephen Carter — who helped steer Naheed Nenshi into the mayor’s office — open wards can be wildly unpredictable.

Carter said it's important to door-knock, assemble a good team, put up signs and take policy positions.

But there's also something intangible about newcomers running in an open seat, he said.

“It's almost a stroke of luck that gets them there,” he said.

“Now that wouldn't be the strategic advice I would give someone, but it does appear that some of those candidates in the last municipal election rode different waves of popularity.”

Name recognition is also a key part of the municipal political game, he said.

Former alderman Joe Ceci said in such races candidates shouldn't underestimate the personal touch.

“You wouldn't believe the number of people who say to you when you knock on their door and tell them who you are, 'You know, nobody's ever come to my door before. I'm going to give you my support because I've listened to you and I appreciate your ethic,’” he said.


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