Ward 12 byelection officially kicks off with 32 candidates

The highest number of municipal candidates in the province's history officially joined the race Monday to replace Amarjeet Sohi as the Edmonton councillor for Ward 12.

Voters in Ward 12 go to the polls Feb 22

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

The highest number of municipal candidates in a single riding in the province's history have officially joined the race to replace Amarjeet Sohi as Ward 12 city councillor. 

By noon Monday, 32 candidates filed nomination papers with the city. Early in the morning they were lined up outside the nomination room at city hall to add their name to the ballot.

Sohi resigned his seat on city council after he was elected as the Liberal MP for Edmonton-Mill Woods on Oct. 19th. Sohi was appointed infrastructure minister in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet. 

The previous record for the most candidates running in a single ward was held by Calgary, which had a byelection with 22 people on the ballot, according to returning officer Laura Kennedy.

The previous record for Edmonton was in 1994, when 19 people ran in a byelection. 

Kennedy said turnout is traditionally low in municipal byelections. Given the wide field of candidates, she said every vote will count.

"With this number of candidates, the chances that there could be a tie vote is probably greater, so voters should get out," she said.

Candidates pointed to transit, and diversity on council as some of their main campaign issues.

The list of candidates will be finalized on Tuesday at noon, after a cooling-off period to allow people to back out.

Ward 12 will elect its new city councillor on Feb 22. There will be seven polling stations across the ward that day. Eligible voters who can't make it to the polls can ask the city to mail out a special ballot.

Meet the candidates

Shani Ahmad runs an electrical company, Oilers Electric, is vice-president of the Electrical Contractor's Association and works as a realtor. He said as a city councillor he would focus on the city's infrastructure needs.

Jason Bale is a stay-at-home dad who entered the race to try to curb unnecessary spending on council. He plans to run his campaign with only $100.

Moe Banga is a 24-year veteran officer of the Edmonton Police Service. His campaign is focused on transit, community safety and managing growth in the ward.

Danisha Bhaloo said she noticed gaps on council in terms of gender, age and ethnicity. She said she hopes to fill those gaps, while balancing the social and practical priorities of the community.

Viorel Bujor is a construction project manager. He said he hopes to bring his experience with project management to city hall, to help boost the success of city infrastructure project.

Mike Butler is a home builder who has run in several elections, both federally and provincially. He said he initially got involved in politics because of a lack of mental health and addictions resources.

Nick Chamchuk left his job as a fundraiser for STARS Air Ambulance to run in Ward 12. He said he is focused on the environment and fiscal responsibility.

Irfan Chaudhry works in multicultural relations for the city. He said he's seen a lapse since council's only multicultural representation, Amarjeet Sohi, resigned. He said he wants to work toward a city that is safe, welcoming and inclusive for all.

Jag Gill is a journeyman technician who said he is running because he's concerned about tax increases. He said he also wants to make sure the Valley LRT Line is built on-time and on-budget.

Andrew Gorman ran against Coun. Bryan Anderson in Ward 9 in 2013.

Brian Henderson is the past-president  of the Edmonton and District Labour Council. His campaign is focused on community safety and poverty elimination.

Lincoln Ho has worked as a public servant, in the non-profit and private sector. He said a major part of his campaign revolves around ease of transportation.

Sam Jhajj  runs a landscaping & excavation business. His top priorities are community safety and eliminating homelessness in Edmonton.

Dan Johnstone, also known as Can Man Dan, is best known for his work to support the Edmonton Food Bank. He ran for council in Ward 10 in 2013. If elected, he hopes to scale back photo radar, and give 90 per cent of the  revenue to the police.

Kelly Kadla

Nav Kaur is working on her master's of educational policy studies at the University of Alberta. She said her priorities involve improving taxi regulations, mental health regulations and making sure all communities have access to city services.

Rory Koopmans has run in six elections since 2000. He said he is running to raise awareness about safety for city workers.

Don Koziak is a hotelier who is against LRT expansion. He said money going toward LRT would be better spent improving the city's roads and intersections.

Balraj Manhas is a limousine driver who is best known at city hall as a lobbyist for the taxi industry. He said if elected, he will make sure decisions are based on public consultations.

Terry J. McKinnon said he is running to address the city's problems with crime, potholes, and high taxes.

Rakesh Patel is an independent residential and commercial contractor. He said his involvement in the community inspired him to run for city council.

Field Pieterse is the owner of Cured Wine Bar. He said he is focused on safety and making sure Edmonton is a family friendly city.

Arundeep Singh Sandhu has worked for his family's trucking company for the last decade. He was involved in provincial politics as a youth. His campaign focus is on creating jobs, lowering taxes, and improving community safety.

Nirpal Sekhon

Yash Sharma is a community volunteer and sales account manager for Nalco Canada and GE. He said taxes and transit are his main issues.

Jagat Singh Sheoran trains security officers for the Alberta Government. He said he is concerned about crime across the entire city.

Jeri Stevens is semi-retired. She was the executive assistant to former councillor Ron Hayter. She said she's concerned about the city's long-term planning, and feels city council has been wasting money.

Nicole Szmanowka, 22,  is the youngest candidate running in Ward 12. She said she hopes to bring the youth perspective to council, which is particularly important on issues such as taxi regulations and transit. She is currently studying for her bachelor of commerce degree.

Laura Thibert is a Catholic school board trustee. She said her experience on the school board makes her a good candidate for Ward 12.

Preet Toor instructs bus and LRT operators for the City of Edmonton. As councillor, she said she would focus her efforts on domestic violence and mental health initiatives, transit and tax transparency.

Steve Toor has run a small trucking business since 2004. He said he stands for multiculturalism, and wants to make sure Edmonton is a safe and inclusive city.

Stephen Wutzke