Game on: Record number of candidates enter race for Edmonton elections
132 running for spots on city council and school boards
Edmonton has never seen more candidates for council and school board seats than those who lined up Monday to file their nomination papers at city hall.
A record slate of 132 candidates submitted their papers to run for office after registration opened at 9 a.m. There are 13 candidates running for mayor and 71 running for council, according to the city.
The ward with the most candidates running for council is Ward 4, with 13 council hopefuls. The seat is currently held by five-term councillor Ed Gibbons, who is not running again in the October election.
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There was a buzz around city hall as candidates arrived in campaign colours with supporters and family carrying signs.
"It's electrifying," said Don Iveson, who is seeking a second term as mayor.
Edmontonians go to the polls on Oct. 16.
The only candidate to be acclaimed Monday was Michelle Draper. With nobody else in the race, she'll continue as the public school board trustee for Ward B in the northeast part of the city.
'Things were in a mess when I got here'
Iveson said Edmonton has become the city to watch in Canada, with a young, talented population and booming downtown. He said his vision as mayor is to plan for further growth.
"We're just about at a million people," Iveson said. "Within the next four or five years, we're going to hit a million people. And before you know it, this region is going to be more than two million."
He acknowledged that council faced problems with the management of a number of big infrastructure projects, such as the delays in opening the new Walterdale Bridge, but said those are on the way to being dealt with.
"We're about halfway through fixing our project management challenges. Things were a mess when I got here four years ago."
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Having won 62 per cent of the vote in the last election, Iveson is considered a strong favourite for re-election, even by some of the candidates running against him.
Don Koziak is going for the mayor's chair for a second time but admits it would be a "miracle" if he wins.
"I like Don," Koziak said of Iveson. "He's a very charismatic gentleman, he photographs well, he presents a good positive image for the city. But I don't agree with all of his policies. Specifically with LRT expansion and the long-term debt we're going to be grappling with."
A number of candidates running for council seats said they were motivated by the chance to bring different voices to better represent the population.
"The city is evolving, times are changing," said Hassan Haymour, seeking a council seat in Ward 4.
"I don't think there is enough colour on city council to represent the people that live in Edmonton. Edmonton is a very multicultural city."
Felix Amenaghawon, also running in Ward 4, said he was encouraged to seek office to bring improved management to key building projects.
"The city council as it is right now does not have a professional engineer who can oversee and have an insight into how the city projects and infrastructure development is going on," Amenaghawon said.
Bev Esslinger was the only female councillor elected in the last election, and is seeking re-election this fall. A number of female candidates running this time said they hope to bring change and fresh ideas.
"Ideally we want parity on city council," said Miranda Jimmy, who is running in Ward 5. "I think the variety of perspectives makes for better decision-making."
Linda Sahli, returning officer for Edmonton Elections 2017, said the registration process was smooth.
Elections officials said the record number of 132 people running eclipsed a previous high of 120 candidates in 1986.