Wards to watch in this Calgary election: Almost all of them

Races are underway in wards 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 that could — or will — disrupt the status quo.

Races underway in wards 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 that could — or will — disrupt the status quo

Advance voting is already underway and the general election day for Calgary's next municipal government is set for Oct. 16. (CBC)

Who says Calgary elections are boring?

While the municipal vote in 2013 was a relatively predictable affair that mostly maintained the status quo, this one is shaping up to be vastly different.

Last time around, 12 of the 14 wards had incumbent city councillors running for re-election. And 11 of them won.

This time around, there are twice as many wards with no incumbent, meaning at least four new people will be seated around the council table come November.

But we could see even more fresh faces on council, as incumbency doesn't appear to be as sure of a route to victory as it has in the past.

And there's another complicating factor — ward boundaries have been redrawn to better balance the city's population among the 14 electoral divisions. All wards have been affected, some of them drastically.

So while there was just a handful of wards to watch in the last election, this time it seems most fall into that category.

Below is a breakdown of which wards are likely to feature the most competitive or curious races. Scroll through them all or click on a ward in the list below to jump directly to it:

Ward 3

The candidates in Ward 3, clockwise from top left, are Jyoti Gondek, Ian McAnerin, Connie Hamilton and Jun Lin. (City of Calgary)

It was nearly a year ago that Coun. Jim Stevenson revealed he would not run for re-election in his northeastern ward.

That left the race wide open for would-be representatives of Ward 3, which has shifted to encompass a more north-central swath of the city.

Stevenson's former campaign manager, Jyoti Gondek, was quick to step up as a candidate.

She's a business professor and former citizen member of the Calgary Planning Commission who is campaigning on her understanding of "complex urban issues" and promise to identify "practical, proven ideas that can be adapted and successfully implemented in Calgary."

Ian McAnerin also threw his hat into the ring. The business consultant describes himself as a moderate who "leans right fiscally and left socially" and is "pro-science and fact-based decision-making."

Jun Lin, who moved from Montreal to Calgary to work as a petroleum marketer and has been living in Panorama Hills since 2010, is campaigning on a platform of increased transparency, lower taxes and accelerating northward construction of the Green Line.

Also running is Connie Hamilton, an interior design consultant, who says she wants to "cut stupid spending on stupid stuff" like "bike lanes and pedestrian bridges to nowhere" and stop the redevelopment of golf courses.

(Jump back to the ward list.)

Ward 4

The candidates in Ward 4, clockwise from top left, are Sean Chu, Greg Miller, Srinivas Ganti and Blair Berdusco. (City of Calgary)

Sean Chu knocked off incumbent Gael MacLeod in the 2013 election and wasn't on council long before a new challenger emerged.

Greg Miller officially launched his campaign to unseat Chu nearly two years ago (after unofficially campaigning for months before that) and has been devoting himself to the effort ever since.

Miller is painting himself as the anti-Chu candidate, with a campaign slogan of "Ward 4 deserves more."

It's been a persistent line of attack from Miller against the rookie councillor, who has become a polarizing figure at city hall and, on more than one occasion, been forced to apologize for his off-the-cuff comments on a variety of subjects.

Challenger Blair Berdusco is taking a similar tack, promising to "provide better representation" for Ward 4, with an indirect reference to Chu's past spats with members of council and city staff.

"Better representation means being a councillor who works with my colleagues on both council and in city administration," she says on her website.

​Chu, meanwhile, is sticking to what worked for him in the last election: calling for lower taxes and "common sense" approaches to decision-making at city hall.

Challenger Srinivas Ganti is also running a platform of more "lean" city operations and accountability in public spending.

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Ward 5

The candidates in Ward 5, clockwise from top left, are Aryan Sadat, Balraj Nijjar, Hirde Jassal, Sarbdeep Baidwan, George Chahal and Tudor Dinca. (City of Calgary)

This used to be the stronghold of Ray Jones but the former Ward 5 councillor opted to follow much of his electorate as the ward boundaries changed and is now running in Ward 10.

That's left Ward 5 with a newly redrawn map of its own, open for a six-way race that's already seen some political drama.

George Chahal is a name some voters might remember from 2007, when he ran against Jim Stevenson in Ward 3 and lost by a mere 33 votes.

More recently, he made the news for calling out rival candidate Aryan Sadat on his past legal problems.

Sadat responded with a written statement accusing Chahal of trying to distract from the issues and appeared to run away from reporters after a recent candidates forum. Sadat disputes that, however, saying he left when the forum ended and did not know CBC News was still on site.

The crowded field also includes Preet Baidwan, who has made the controversial redevelopment of green space near the Genesis Centre a central issue of his campaign.

Raj Nijjar, meanwhile, is calling for an expansion of the Genesis Centre and the construction of another multisport facility farther north in the ward.

Hirde Jassal wants to see more affordable housing and improved infrastructure in northeast Calgary.

And Tudor Dinca is campaigning on a platform of safer neighbourhoods, better public services and sustainable urban planning.

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Ward 6

The candidates in Ward 6, clockwise from top left, are Alex Columbos, Esmahan Razavi, Grace Nelson, Jeff Davison, Steve Turner, Sean Yost, Sanjeev Kad and Jeff Brownridge. (City of Calgary)

This is another ward without an incumbent, as Richard Pootmans opted not to run again.

Eight people are vying to replace him, including:

  • Jeff Davison, who wants to "rein in extensive tax increases" and develop policies to attract business.
  • Esmahan Razavi, who wants to "limit property tax increases" and focus on "smart development policies."
  • Sean Yost, who wants "no more tax increases" and less "regulatory burden" on business.
  • Grace Nelson, who wants "lower taxes on small business" and more local hiring of consultants and contractors.
  • Steve Turner, who wants "responsible management of your tax dollars" and less public art.
  • Jeff Brownridge, who wants "a property tax freeze for 2018" and a suspension of the city's public art policy.
  • Alex Columbos, who wants to find "tax and operational efficiencies" in the city budget and more affordable programming for children and families.
  • Sanjeev Kad, who wants less frequent property assessments and citizens to have a direct say on public art projects.

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Ward 7

The candidates in Ward 7, clockwise from top left, are Druh Farrell, Brent Alexander, Dean Brawn, Marek Hejduk and Margot Aftergood. (City of Calgary / Hejduk campaign)

Challengers have been gunning hard to take this ward from incumbent Druh Farrell for the past two elections and this year is no exception.

Backed largely by donations from development and homebuilding companies, Kevin Taylor spent $111,000 in the 2007 municipal election and then an eye-popping $276,500 in 2013 in an attempt to unseat the incumbent.

He was unsuccessful both times, but came close.

The non-Farrell vote was largely split last time around, however, between Taylor (28 per cent) and another challenger, Brent Alexander (26 per cent). Farrell won the election with 37 per cent of the vote.

Taylor isn't running again in 2017 but Alexander is.

A financial services manager by profession, Alexander is campaigning on a platform of "financial competence" and "evidence-based decision making." He's also calling for campaign-finance reform while personally refusing to accept any "union, special interest or development money."

Farrell, meanwhile, is running on her record — with the slogan "Druh Delivers for Ward 7" — and pointing, in particular, to her work on flood-mitigation projects for the area, curbside recycling citywide and the Downtown Economic Summit earlier this year.

Farrell is also facing a challenge from another former municipal politician, Margot Aftergood, who narrowly won the 2004 election in Ward 10 but then resigned amid a ballot-stuffing scandal that played out in court for years afterward and resulted in convictions for two people involved in her campaign, including her brother-in-law.

Aftergood said her campaign "will go extremely by the book" this time and is positioning herself as a fiscal conservative and an ally of mayoral candidate Bill Smith.

Dean Brawn is staking out similar territory, with a slogan of "Our Conservative Choice" and lawn signs that look strikingly similar to those of federal Conservative candidates. He pledges to "oppose any increase in property taxes, full stop."

Meanwhile Marek Hejduk is campaigning on a platform of greater public input and accountability on transportation projects and reforming the secondary-suite process.

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Ward 8

The candidates in Ward 8, clockwise from top left, are Evan Woolley, Chris Davis, Karla Charest and Carter Thomson. (City of Calgary / Charest campaign)

While it's been historically difficult for challengers to defeat incumbents, Ward 8 has been an exception.

Citywide, more than 90 per cent of council members have won when they sought re-election, but in this inner-city ward the incumbents have been defeated in two of the past four votes.

Evan Woolley did it 2013, when he unseated John Mar.

Now an incumbent, himself, Woolley is trying to fend off a challenge from Chris Davis, a land-development lawyer and self-described "tax warrior" who wants to increase transparency at city hall, which he describes as too secretive.

Woolley has accused his opponent of being too secretive himself, as Davis refuses to release a list of his campaign donors prior to the election, as Woolley has voluntarily done.

Carter Thomson is also running in Ward 8. The operator of One Way Foods and Deli ran for mayor in the last election and finished fourth with one per cent of the vote. The primary plank in his platform is "keeping our streets safe."

Also running is Karla Charest, who wants to "rewire" the way the city works by using more digital technology and involving citizens through "active collaboration" on both the design and delivery of services.

(Jump back to the ward list.)

Ward 9

Incumbent Gian-Carlo Carra, centre, is facing six challengers in Ward 9. Clockwise from top left, they are: Trevor Buckler, Boss Madimba, Cheryl Link, Cesar Saavedra, David Metcalfe and Omar M'keyo. (City of Calgary)

Gian-Carlo Carra is seeking a third term in Ward 9 after increasing his vote share over the past two elections.

But it would be a stretch to say he's a shoo-in to win.

While Carra took 48 per cent of the vote in the 2013 election, his two nearest challengers split most of the remaining ballots, taking 47 per cent between them.

He's again facing a crowded field of challengers but could be vulnerable if a desire for change coalesces around a particular candidate.

Trevor Buckler is a retired fire captain who is campaigning on a platform of "required" rather than "desired" spending at city hall and promises to "not be a virtue-signalling social justice warrior and ... not politically correct."

Cheryl Link, owner of Mountain Modern Timberframes, is calling to "end the tax hikes" at city hall and pledging to be "pro-business" and "pro-community-engagement."

David Metcalfe is a retired salesman who wants to "trim the city budget" and "get a sensible arena deal" and "be ready for legal pot."

Boss Madimba, an operations supervisor with Calgary Transit, is pledging to curb "wasteful" spending and demand more funding from the provincial and federal governments for things he figures the city shouldn't be paying for.

Cesar Saavedra is calling for updated infrastructure, new safety initiatives and expanded recreation programs.

Omar M'keyo wants to see a special tax rate for Ward 9 specifically and a free daycare program for low-income families.

Carra, meanwhile, is running on his record and what he describes as his "pretty singular focus" on "building great neighbourhoods."

(Jump back to the ward list.)

Ward 10

The candidates in Ward 10, from left to right and top to bottom, are Ray Jones, Najeeb Butt, Gar Gar, Faith Greaves, Salimah Kassam, Issa Mosa, Hermann Muller, Kamilla Prasad, Michelle Robinson, David Winkler and Numan Elhussein. (City of Calgary / Numan Elhussein / Facebook)

Ray Jones is arguably the safest councillor seeking re-election on this list, having sewn up the last couple of elections in Ward 5 with between 62 and 80 per cent of the vote.

The new Ward 10 encompasses much of his old territory, but the boundary changes still introduce a wrinkle into this election. Jones will have to appeal to many Calgarians who have never been eligible to vote for him in the past.

The veteran councillor is up against a mob of challengers, which probably works in his favour, due to the first-past-the-post electoral system. But the outcome of this race will still be interesting for how it sets the table in future elections.

The challengers are:

  • David Winkler, an entrepreneur who is campaigning on getting a fair shake for northeast Calgary, which he describes as routinely neglected in city planning and decision making.
  • Michelle Robinson, an Abbeydale resident whose platform is based on four pillars: "community, inclusion, safety, leadership."
  • Kamilla Prasad, who wants see property taxes frozen for five to 10 years or "until our economy picks up" and says her campaign is based on the principle of "consider people first."
  • Hermann Muller, a job steward with the local transit union who is raising concerns about the city's green bin rollout and Green Line plan.
  • Issa Mosa, who lists among his priorities fiscal responsibility, reduced red tape, safe and secure communities, effective transportation and clean environmental policy at city hall.
  • Salimah Kassam, a strategist with the local United Way who wants safer transportation options, improved infrastructure and "to shine a spotlight on the northeast."
  • Faith Greaves, whose platform priorities include poverty reduction, affordable housing and efficient transportation.
  • Gar Gar, who describes his vision for northeast Calgary as a simple one. "I want all Calgarians to have the same opportunities that our city gave me: a safe and affordable home, a well-paying job, a safe environment for our children to grow up in."
  • Numan Elhussein, who ran in the old Ward 10 in the last election and came third out of three candidates. He has not made information about himself or his platform readily available.
  • Najeeb Butt, a realtor who ran for the Progressive Canadian Party in Calgary Skyview in the last federal election and finished fourth with two per cent of the vote. He's calling for reduced property taxes, more recreational facilities and timely snow removal.

(Jump back to the ward list.)

Ward 11

The candidates in Ward 11, clockwise from top left, are Robert Dickinson, Janet Eremenko, Jeromy Farkas, Keith Simmons and Linda Johnson. (City of Calgary)

Ward 11 is similar to Ward 4, in that a challenger has been campaigning for nearly the past two years in a bid to unseat the incumbent.

Jeromy Farkas officially launched his campaign in March 2016 but had been laying the groundwork well before that, giving him a head-start on the other challengers.

But unlike Ward 4, there won't actually be an incumbent running in this race, after Brian Pincott announced in February he wouldn't seek re-election.

Five people are now vying to represent the ward, which lost some of its northwest territory while expanding to the southeast and extending a narrow finger northward into downtown, under the redrawn electoral boundaries.

Farkas, a former researcher with the Manning Foundation, is campaigning on a platform of "ending the war on small business" and calling for a halt to the southwest bus rapid transit project, pending a review by the newly elected council.

By contrast, Janet Eremenko is "fully in support" of the project, saying rapid transit is "desperately needed" in the "underserved" southwest. Her broad platform pledge is to be "effective, inclusive, balanced."

Robert Dickinson, meanwhile, describes his platform as focused on "accountability, collaboration and forward thinking." It calls for improved transportation connections, accelerated flood mitigation and a streamlined secondary-suite process.

Linda Johnson wants "to live within our economic means without raising taxes or fees" while ensuring essential city services are maintained and citizens' voices are heard before decisions are made.

And Keith Simmons, as a central component of his platform, is pledging to "close the gap" he sees between citizens' wishes and the actions of the municipal government.

(Jump back to the ward list.)

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(Jump back to the ward list.)