Calgary·Calgary Votes 2021

Five top-polling Calgary mayoral candidates talk business, youth, vision for downtown

Five people aiming to be Calgary’s next mayor discussed economic recovery and long-term prosperity for the city Wednesday night.

Calgarians will head to polls on Oct. 18

From left to right, Calgary mayoral candidates Jyoti Gondek, Jeromy Farkas, Brad Field, Jan Damery and Jeff Davison. (Submitted by the campaigns of Jyoti Gondek, Jeromy Farkas, Brad Field, Jan Damery and Jeff Davison)

Five people vying to be Calgary's next mayor discussed economic recovery and long-term prosperity for the city Wednesday night.

The Calgary Chamber of Commerce hosted the debate, with business leaders questioning Jan Damery, Jeff Davison, Jeromy Farkas, Brad Field and Jyoti Gondek. 

A poll done for CBC News and released Wednesday says those five were the highest-polling candidates among decided voters last week.

Front runners jockey 

Polling shows Gondek is leading in voter support, and she attracted criticism from the other candidates. 

Gondek has 40 per cent support among decided and leaning voters. Farkas is a close second with 32 per cent support. Davison is third with 11 per cent.

Davison opened his remarks with a critique of his opponents. 

"My opponents really want you to believe this is a two-horse race. A choice between the extreme right or the extreme left. But that isn't the way most of us think about Calgary," Davison said during the debate Wednesday. 

Farkas also opened his remarks by talking about other candidates. 

"Councillor Gondek will sit here and say that she is for business, but her entire record has been against business," he said. 

Unlike a forum earlier in the week, Gondek had little criticism for her council colleagues. Instead she chose to outline her policies.

The other two candidates, Field and Damery, said it's time for a mayor who is from outside the current council. 

Later in the debate, Damery said Calgarians want leadership at city hall, not bickering politicians.

Candidates talk issues 

One of the questions posed to the candidates was how they would keep young talent in Calgary. 

Farkas said that to keep young people, Calgary needs to be affordable and safe. 

He said he would advocate for a reversal of the Guidebook for Great Communities, and advocate for a four-year freeze in the property tax rate. He also said he's the only city councillor who voted against defunding the police, and criticized the city for not having a downtown police station. 

Damery disagreed with Farkas. 

"It's not about more policing downtown to keep our city safe. It's actually about getting more people living downtown. People actually make us all safe, the connection that breeds," she said. 

"And it's about investing also in the social services agencies in our community." 

Damery said there are a lot of job vacancies in the digital and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. If elected, she would make downtown a vital core with campuses that are graduating students in these fields. She also said she would invest in infrastructure, so people can live downtown without needing to use a car. 

Gondek said younger Canadians are looking for a city that offers meaningful employment and a great place to live. She said she would invest in public transit, and work to have amenities close by where people want to live. 

Davison said organizations want to scale up, and would invest in jobs that younger people want. 

Field said that, if elected mayor, he wants to get the downtown core repopulated with youth. He said he would like to create a downtown co-op program where post-secondary institutions are partnered with local businesses, ensuring there are jobs for younger Calgarians, and creating a vibrant downtown where they want to be. 

Candidates also touched on how they would make Calgary more equitable for all citizens. 

Damery said that she would work toward removing barriers to employment, settlement and investments in social services.

Gondek said this election is an opportunity to elect individuals with lived experience so they can bring about change in the city. 

"Make sure you're making wise choices about people that can represent you, and implement anti-racist practices in this city to make us more inclusive and more welcoming," she said. 

Calgary's municipal election is set for Oct. 18.


  • An earlier version of this story wrongly attributed a statement saying Calgarians wanted leadership, not bickering, to Jyoti Gondek. It has been updated to reflect the debate.
    Oct 08, 2021 9:46 AM MT


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