Tougher rules needed for would-be civic candidates, Edmonton councillor says

The rules around allowing someone to get their name on the ballot to run for a seat on Edmonton city council should be changed to make it more difficult, says Coun. Michael Oshry.

'You have to show that you're a viable candidate in order to put your name on the ballot'

"There would be fewer candidates but the ones that would be in would all have a chance of winning," said Coun. Michael Oshry. (Travis McEwan)

Would-be candidates for Edmonton city council should be required to come up with more signatures and a larger deposit, says Coun. Michael Oshry.

Current rules are too lax, Oshry said in an interview. To run for a seat on city council a person needs only 25 signatures and a deposit of $100.

"We end up with significantly too many candidates, many of whom get 10 or 12 votes," Oshry said.

"This is about the constituents having to make a choice, and having too many candidates, of which many of them are not really serious candidates."

People putting their names forward should be required to collect 100 signatures and provide a $1,000 deposit, Oshry said.

"There would be fewer candidates but the ones that would be in would all have a chance of winning."

No changes for October election

The motion Oshry presented to a meeting of city council Tuesday is not to change the rules for the civic election set for Oct. 16, 2017, but for the one after that, in 2021.

His proposal will be dealt with by the newly elected mayor and councillors in 2018.

It wouldn't be fair to make changes at this point for the upcoming election, said Oshry.

So far, 46 people have registered their intention to let their names stand as candidates in the October vote.

The mayor, and the names of 10 of the sitting councillors are on that list.

The only two councillors not included are Bryan Anderson and Ed Gibbons.
About 15 people have already contacted Coun. Ed Gibbons asking if he will be seeking re-election in ward 4. (Lydia Neufeld)

Gibbons supports the idea to increase the number of required signatures and deposit, who already has people sniffing around his ward.

"If you don't know 100 people that really support you, you're not going to win, so why are you running?" said Gibbons.

Gibbons, who represents Ward 4, is currently serving his fifth term as a councillor.

"I've had 15 [people] through the door. They're coming to ask questions and trying to find out, am I running," said Gibbons.

A decision on whether he will let his name stand will be made public in the next couple of months, he said.

32 candidates is too many

It's reasonable to have five to 15 candidates running in a ward but having 32, as happened in the last civic by-election in 2016, is too many, said Oshry.

In civic elections, candidates don't have political party affiliations. That can mean more research for voters who are trying to learn about them.

That can be a lot of work, and is likely a contributing factor to low voter turnout which is typical of civic elections, Oshry added.

"I'm just trying to streamline it," Oshry said. "You have to show that you're a viable candidate in order to put your name on the ballot."