Edmonton

It's elbow to elbow in crowded Ward 12 byelection contest

So many people have put their names forward as potential candidates to replace Amarjeet Sohi on city council, that the city may have to order extra long ballots for the byelection.

'They're very keen and they're very eager,' returning officer says

Election signs are posted all over Ward 12 in preparation for the city by-election to replace Amarjeet Sohi. (CBC)

So many people have put their names forward as candidates to replace Amarjeet Sohi on Edmonton city council, the city may have to order extra-long ballots.

Ward 12 residents will go to the polls on Feb. 22, and so far 29 people intend to run, a record number.

The big challenge is getting enough voters to the polling station, to have one more than the next person- Prof . Jim  Lightbody

Returning officer Laura Kennedy said candidates started to file the paperwork to signal their intention to run as soon as Sohi was elected as an MP in October.

While candidates have until Jan. 25 to officially file nomination papers, Kennedy said she expects most or all of the 29 people who have put their names forward will run.

"They're very keen and they're very eager," she said.

The city has posted a list of those intending to run, in part to let potential candidates know what they're up against.

Political watcher and University of Alberta professor Jim Lightbody expects only a dozen potential candidates will actually file nomination paperwork.

' Large-scale undertaking'

"It's a large-scale undertaking to campaign in a city ward," he said.

While candidates usually have up to four years to prepare a campaign, these candidates have had only a month. He said voter turnout usually doesn't exceed 18 per cent in a typical byelection, so every vote counts.

"The big challenge is getting enough voters to the polling station, to have one more than the next person," he said.

Regina Mutinga lives in Ward 12, but didn't know that a by-election was on the horizon. (CBC)
That makes it even more important for potential candidates to get the word out about their platforms. But it won't be easy.

"I can see posters and everything and I'm like, 'I don't know what's going on'," Regina Mutinga, who lives in the ward but didn't know about the byelection.

Women's Advocacy Voice of Edmonton Committee is planning a byelection forum in mid-February, but it still hasn't settled on a format that will accommodate such a large field of candidates.

Kennedy said the city already has plans to order extra long ballots if more than 30 people decide to run.

"We're hoping we can just use the shorter-form ballot," Kennedy said. "But we're prepared for more."

The long ballots are typically used in general city elections, with space for mayoral, ward and school trustee candidates.

Potential candidates registered with the city  

Links will take you to the candidate's external website

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