Edmonton Notes for 11/1/2015

I hope you made the most of your extra hour today! Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:


Sunset Gradients
We do have some really pretty sunsets at this time of year!

Upcoming Events

Visitor Centre
Visitor Centre, photo by RemotelyBoris

Edmonton Election 2013: Candidates capture the moment on Twitter

Just as I did in 2010, I wanted to capture on one page the tweets that candidates sent out upon hearing the election results. Not everyone tweeted Monday night – some didn’t post anything until the following day. In some cases, candidates sent out a couple tweets – one to congratulate the winner and another to thank their volunteers – so I have included both where appropriate.

With so many candidates on Twitter, it’ll be really interesting to see how they document their four-year term. Enjoy!

Edmonton Election 2013: The Morning After

What a night! After a landslide victory, Edmonton’s mayor-elect is Don Iveson. He defeated Karen Leibovici by more than 90,000 votes, earning 62% of the vote. Kerry Diotte came third just over 8000 votes behind Karen.

Don received more than 132,000 votes, which is more than any mayor has ever received in Edmonton’s history. Former mayor Jan Reimer held the previous record at just over 113,000 votes in the 1992 election. That year, turnout was 51.7% and more than 215,000 votes were cast. Turnout this year was quite a bit lower at 34.5%, but with a larger population, just 2000 fewer votes were cast than that ’92 election.

mayoral results

I certainly didn’t expect the margin to be that wide, and I don’t think many others did either. It’s a clear mandate for the vision that Don has articulated and the positive, collaborative tone he has espoused from the outset. It’s a huge vote of confidence in a mayor that to many seemed unlikely six months ago. This was not a social media win – you don’t earn the largest number of votes in Edmonton election history without gaining the support of a diverse array of Edmontonians.

Now the work really begins. Don’s campaign team reached out to all the successful candidates last night, and I know Don spoke with many of them personally too. The next week will be a whirlwind of transition meetings, getting new Councillors up-to-speed, and preparing for the first Council meeting which will take place on Tuesday, October 29. It’s an exciting time, and I’m thrilled that Don is the man who will lead it.

I have new appreciation for how much work goes into an election campaign, so I want to say congratulations to all of the candidates and their teams who put the time and energy into running. Only a small number get elected, but the questions, discussions, and ideas that are surfaced during a campaign are incredibly important and contribute significantly to the civic discourse.

I thought Don said all the right things to his opponents last night in his victory speech. Both Karen and Kerry ran strong campaigns and should be commended for their effort and what they brought to the table during this election. I also want to thank them for their service on City Council, and I wish them all the best.

Here are the successful candidates (unofficial until finalized by Edmonton Elections):

successful candidates

Congratulations to all!

I’ll have much more on the election over the next couple weeks. Also, join us on Thursday at 8pm for another #yegvote Hangout at EdmontonPolitics.com! We’ll be analyzing what the results mean for Edmonton and will answer your questions.

You can see all the results of last night’s election here.

Election Day 2013

After months of campaigning, it all comes down to today. Candidates will continue to push get-out-the-vote efforts throughout the day, but the race is largely over. They’ve done all they can. The rest is up to us. Who will win the battle for City Hall?

Pecha Kucha Night 17

Have you voted yet? Figure out where to vote and who you’re voting for, and get it done. This is your opportunity to help define our municipal leadership for the next four years. Don’t waste it! Be sure to check out the City’s website for information on valid identification and more.

Tonight, I invite you to watch the results come in with the ShareEdmonton Election Results Dashboard. The polls close at 8pm, and the dashboard will automatically update whenever new results are posted. You’ll see race-by-race charts and results, plus overall statistics for voter turnout and percentage of voting stations reporting data. There’s also a leaderboard to quickly see who’s leading in each race, and some historical voter turnout numbers too.

Thanks for following along with my election coverage thus far. I’ll have further updates this week after the results are in.

Please vote, and check out the results dashboard tonight!

Why I am supporting Don Iveson for Mayor

Don Iveson is the person I want to lead Edmonton forward over at least the next four years. He’s thoughtful, intelligent, hard-working, and he truly cares about building Edmonton’s future. Don can imagine the great city we are working to build here in Edmonton. But he’s also practical, well-prepared and able to address the many complex challenges our growing city faces. I have no doubt that if Don is elected mayor on Monday night, Edmonton will be in good hands.

Don Iveson Rally

It should be no surprise that I’m supporting Don – I have been a member of his campaign team since early this summer. Many of the things I felt and thought I understood about Don then have only been reinforced through his actions and statements on the campaign trail. I consider myself fortunate to be part of the amazing team of people that have come together because they too like what they see in Don.

I have, of course, been a fairly consistent supporter of Mayor Stephen Mandel. While I haven’t always agreed with him, I do think that Edmonton has thrived under his leadership. I’m sad to see him go, but excited about the potential for someone to build atop the strong foundation he has laid. Edmonton has real confidence now that was sorely lacking before. Mayor Mandel was the leader we needed to find our path, and Don is the best candidate to lead us down it and beyond.

In my opinion, one of the biggest changes at the City over the last few years has been the professionalization of planning. It’s a much more strategic organization thanks in large part to Mayor Mandel’s efforts. We don’t need a new set of plans right now – indeed the lack of any major issues during this election is proof that most Edmontonians are happy with the course we’re on. What we need is someone who can ensure we actually implement those plans, while keeping an eye out for possibilities we haven’t yet recognized. Don has demonstrated repeatedly that he thoroughly understands the issues and can chart a course from here to there. His policy on renewing our roads and pipes is a good example of this.

One of the most important tasks facing any new mayor is to get Council working well together as a team. Councillors need to feel engaged, and the mayor must always remember that he or she is only one vote. At the same time, the mayor plays a unique role in building consensus. There will always be those who disagree, but unless the will of Council is generally aligned it’s difficult to make progress. The bar for accomplishing this task well was set pretty high by Mayor Mandel, but I think Don is more than capable of building an effective team.

If you ever watch or listen to Council meetings as I do, you’ll know that Don has a deep understanding of how the City works. He has been active in the Council chamber, making nearly twice as many motions during his last term as Karen Leibovici, and nearly eight times as many as Kerry Diotte. More importantly, I think his record shows that Don was able to earn a wider range of support from his colleagues on Council. While both Don and Karen have a similar failure rate for motions of about 2% (Kerry’s is a shocking 67%), more than 27% of all Karen’s motions were seconded by Jane Batty. Mayor Mandel accounts for another 14.5%. No two Councillors combined account for more than 30% of Don’s seconders. Stats like this can be interpreted in multiple ways however, so what about the contents of the motions?

Don’s activity on Council has not been limited to a particular issue. He’s made motions related to: funding for the Southeast LRT expansion, supporting the Edmonton Public Library, progressing smart transit fares, the operations of 311, streetlight rehabilitation, funding for arterial road renewal, reallocating funds for snow removal, the regulation of taxi and limousine services in the Capital Region, the downtown CRL, funding for Startup Edmonton, streamlining the rules for food trucks, and much more.

Don is not perfect; no candidate is. But Don’s age, perceived lack of experience, and apparent left-leaning slant are not his weaknesses. Age is just a number and any lack of experience can be mitigated by doing your homework and seeking the counsel of others. And I find the policies he has put forth fairly centrist. If there’s any weakness to note, it would be that Don has a tendency to care too much about what other people think. Fortunately that’s a weakness that’s easy to overcome. Anyone sitting in the mayor’s chair will naturally grow a thicker skin over time, and I know that like all great leaders, Don will surround himself with amazing people that can help him stay focused and motivated.

There are many issues I care about, but let me highlight a few. I have long been disappointed with the state of public involvement in Edmonton. As a councillor, Don has proven that he too would like to see things improve. He’s been highly accessible, both through traditional means and using new approaches like social media, and has led initiatives such as NextGen’s Engagement Strategy. I have no doubt he’ll continue to push for improvements as mayor. Like many Edmontonians, I want to see our LRT network built. Don has committed to working toward a full build-out of the network by 2030. I joined the Poverty Elimination Committee this year because I believe it’s an important problem that needs a new approach, similar to the success of our 10-year Plan to End Homelessness. Don has committed to elevating the poverty elimination effort to a Mayor’s Task Force. On these and many other issues, Don best represents the beliefs I have and the outcomes I desire.

I predict that the Capital Region will be one of the most important files our new mayor and City Council will need to address. The time is right for change, and Don is well-positioned to lead us in that effort. He recognizes that Edmonton is not an island and that we need to cooperate with our neighbours to maximize the opportunities before us. Don has a proven track record of working successfully with the Capital Region, and I think he’s the right person to bring about further, positive change for the region.

I also like Don’s position on Calgary. He has committed to working with the mayor of Calgary on a number of issues, to ensure that large municipalities in Alberta get the special attention they require and deserve. Whether its building out the LRT network or changing the way we fund our city, Don understands the issues and recognizes that Edmonton and Calgary have a greater chance of getting support from the Province when we speak with a united voice than when we work alone.

Mayoral Forum #3

The challenges our city will face over the next four years and beyond will be more complicated than those we have faced in the past. As Edmonton grows and our positive momentum builds, we need a leader who can ensure we stay the course while also taking calculated risks when opportunities arise. We need a leader who understands the issues and who can provide thoughtful, creative solutions. We need a leader who is passionate about and devoted to building the Edmonton of the future. Don Iveson is that leader.

That’s why I voted for Don today, and that’s why I hope you’ll consider supporting him on Monday. For some other perspectives, check out Dave’s post and Randy’s list of 50 reasons to support Don.

Edmonton Election 2013: Update #10

We held another #yegvote Hangout last night at EdmontonPolitics.com, with special guests Chris LaBossiere and Patricia Misutka. We had a great discussion about the mayoral race, touched on a few of the ward races, and gained some insight from their experience into what candidates can expect for the weeks ahead:

It’s hard to believe that we’re just days away from the election! As a result, this will be last update before we find out who the successful candidates are. Here’s my latest election news roundup:

Also, let me quickly plug the ShareEdmonton results page, which will be updating live on Monday night. You can see historical election results here.

You can follow Edmonton Election news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegvote and you can see my coverage here. Also be sure to check out the #yegvote flipboard for curated election-related stories on a daily basis.

What have I missed? Let me know!

Please get out and vote and encourage your friends and family to do so as well!

Disclosure: I’m actively volunteering for Don Iveson’s mayoral campaign.

Don Iveson rallies his supporters to get out the vote

Last night I joined a few hundred volunteers, donors, and others supporters of the Don Iveson for Mayor campaign at a rally at the Matrix Hotel. It was an opportunity for Don to address his base, to thank his many volunteers for their hard work and dedication to the campaign thus far, but most importantly to remind everyone that Election Day is all that matters. There are still four hard days of work left to go, and now is not the time to get complacent!

Don Iveson Rally

After a lighthearted and witty introduction from his wife Sarah, Don took the stage to give his remarks. He recalled the seed which started the campaign, many months ago. “If you give people something to vote for instead of against, that will build a better city.” He talked about the many exciting things happening in Edmonton, channeling Make Something Edmonton as he touched on projects, businesses, and festivals. “If we build it together, it endures,” he declared.

Don Iveson Rally

He expressed a passionate desire to see all of that positive momentum continue, and even accelerate. “This can be the moment where Edmonton turns,” he said. “We can show people they were wrong to underestimate Edmonton.”

Don Iveson Rally

Don was not light on praise for his volunteers. “You’re the best political team in Canada,” he said. “Your support is what keeps me and the campaign going strong.” His remarks received, unsurprisingly, raucous applause. An already strong group of volunteers grew as people signed up to help on their way out.

Don Iveson Rally

With the room buzzing, Don implored everyone to help get out the vote over the next few days. We’re into the home stretch, but that doesn’t mean that any campaign should take it easy. Positive polls or not, all that matters is getting people out to vote on election day. That was, appropriately, the message that Don left his supporters with. I have no doubt we’ll rise to the challenge.

Disclosure: I’m actively volunteering for Don Iveson’s mayoral campaign.

Edmonton Election 2013: Update #9

We’re through all of the official Edmonton Elections forums now, and archives of each have been posted online. The final mayoral forum took place on Thursday evening in front of a large crowd. It had some entertaining moments, but for the most part, none of the forums have captured the energy we saw in 2010.

Mayoral Forum #3

Here’s my latest election news roundup:

You can follow Edmonton Election news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegvote and you can see my coverage here. Also be sure to check out the #yegvote flipboard for curated election-related stories on a daily basis.

What have I missed? Let me know!

Disclosure: I’m actively volunteering for Don Iveson’s mayoral campaign.

In a sea of platitudes, are there any specifics?

It’s true that this election lacks a big, divisive issue like the arena or the city centre airport. There’s little disagreement among candidates about the path Edmonton is on or even about what Edmonton will look like in four to eight years. Yet despite all of that similarity, candidates aren’t doing much to differentiate themselves. With just ten days until election day, all we seem to hear are platitudes. Where are the specifics?

“Let’s get our city’s taxes and debt under control,” reads mayoral candidate Kerry Diotte’s digital brochure. The text offers some numbers to illustrate how Edmonton’s debt has grown over the last decade, but details on how to get that debt “under control” are nowhere to be found. “Reduce wasteful spending” is another common refrain from the Diotte camp, but how? In our #yegvote Hangout, Kerry said he’d need to review “wants” versus “needs” but wouldn’t offer any specifics, suggesting he’d have to do that in collaboration with the new council.

(BTW, it’s remarkable how similar Ward 2 candidate Don Koziak’s vision for City Council is to that of Kerry Diotte.)

Over in Ward 4, incumbent Ed Gibbons offers policies like: “is working with administrators and developers to ensure the appropriate growth of our community,” and “supports appropriate redevelopment of older communities for both new and existing residents.” What is appropriate growth? How do you quantify that? What does appropriate redevelopment look like?

Ward 1 candidate Rob Pasay has five platform statements, each about three or four sentences long. Here’s his “Power To The People” policy:

Put an end to corporate sponsorship of Councillor and Mayoral candidates. Encourage a city-wide vote on any project whose total initial cost is greater than a certain percentage of the City GDP. Increase voter turnout by investigating the use of malls and seniors homes as voting stations. Actually balance the budget.

Greater than a certain percentage of the GDP? What’s the percentage? 1%? 50%? Does that even make sense as an idea? How would you hold a city-wide vote in the middle of a four-year term? It’s a crazy thing to say without any specifics to back it up.

The policies put forward by Ward 11 candidate Mike Nickel are even more laughable. Here’s his entire policy on municipal taxes:

Our tax dollars must be spent effectively with an eye reviewing the City’s current expenditures and debt load. There is no room for civic waste or financial mismanagement.

Some of his other policy statements are even shorter, and he ends each one with a question: “How do you feel about this issue?”

I can understand why a candidate might hesitate to get too specific – they could then be held accountable if they got into office. For instance, what if they promised a 5% cut, but could only achieve a 3% cut once elected? Would that be seen as the candidate misleading voters? It’s better than making only vague promises with no real plan, in my mind.

I suppose platitudes are better than misinformation. There are clearly a large number of candidates who haven’t done even the most basic research on issues like homelessness or LRT funding. Still, I wish there was more substance to the policy statements being put forth by so many of the candidates. A statement of intent is useful, but why stop there? Even just a little more detail would help to differentiate many of the candidates from their competitors. When the candidates themselves remark that “we’re all saying basically the same thing” at forums, there’s a problem.


To be fair, there are some candidates that offer more than just platitudes (but not many). Ward 2 candidate Ted Grand gets specific in his neighbourhood renewal policy:

The City has recognized it fell behind in maintaining infrastructure in the City’s mature neighbourhoods. In the 2013 budget they set funding support of the renewal program at 1.5%. I will be working to restore the program back to the 2010 level of 2%, so more neighbourhoods can be completed sooner.

In the mayoral race, Don Iveson is consistently highlighted as the only candidate that seems to know the facts and can offer more than just an opinion. Even the Edmonton Sun’s Lorne Gunter picked up on this, writing “on every issue, he understands the problem and has thought through a solution.” Consider Don’s policy on funding the city. He offers a short-term plan with some specifics:

“I will introduce a program called “Council’s 2%” in which Council will work with city administration throughout the year to find an annual 2% increased efficiency in our city’s tax-supported operations, which should yield approximately $80 million over the next four years.”

And he saves any platitudes for the long-term vision:

My vision is that in 20 years, the city’s over-reliance on unfair property taxes is long behind us. Edmonton, and all Canadian cities, need better tools to pay for the services we expect and the city we envision.

The main reason I’m interested in specifics is not differentiation, but confidence. I want to be confident that the successful candidates have what it takes to do the job. Specifics and detail are a large part of what City Council deals with on a daily basis. There’s a reason that a Councillor’s workload “averages at least 60-70 hours per week.” No doubt some of that time can be attributed to attending events, but there’s a significant amount of effort that goes into understanding the issues.

But don’t take my word for it – here’s what current Councillor Kim Krushell told me:

To be an effective City Councillor you have to be prepared to not only attend countless Council and committee meetings but be willing to lead Council Initiatives. The biggest part of the job is reading. Councillors get most of their agendas the Thursday before the week of meetings. This means spending countless hours reading on the weekends. When you sit on other Boards such as the Police Commission or AUMA (Alberta Urban Municipalities Association) there is a significant amount of additional reading the Councillor has to do.

She added: “The job is not easy but it is rewarding!”

With so little time before election day, we’re not likely to see much change in the information that candidates are providing. And that’s a shame, because deciding between “I support better public involvement” and “I support better public consultation” is not going to be easy.

What happens if there’s a tie on October 21?

A few weeks ago I ran into the amazing Linda Hut, the teacher and coordinator over at City Hall School, and she mentioned that her class was asking questions about the election. One student asked what would happen if there was a tie. The answer, which can be found in the Local Authorities Election Act (Section 99), might surprise you:

If it appears on the calculation of the votes that 2 or more candidates for any office have received the same number of votes, and if it is necessary for determining which candidate is elected, the returning officer shall write the names of those candidates separately on blank sheets of paper of equal size and of the same colour and texture, and after folding the sheets of paper in a uniform manner and so that the names are concealed, shall deposit them in a receptacle and direct some person to withdraw one of the sheets, and the returning officer shall declare the candidate whose name appears on the withdrawn sheet to have one more vote than the other candidate.

That’s right, months of campaigning and the decision could all come down to one piece of paper drawn from a hat. Fortunately, the chance of a tie happening is pretty tiny!

To start, what’s the likelihood that all six mayoral candidates could receive the same number of votes? Well, technically it’s impossible as there are 619,138 eligible voters, but let’s round that up to 619,140 for the sake of argument. That would mean each candidate would need to get 103,190 votes exactly for all six to be tied. According to Wolfram Alpha, there’s a 1 in 735 chance (about 0.14%) of a candidate getting that number. If we reduce that to just the 34% of voters that actually turned up last election, the chances improve slightly to 1 in 429 (about 0.23%). But actually, that has to happen six times in order for all of them to tie, which is just incredibly unlikely.

Now that’s a fairly unrealistic scenario as we know that there are a lot of factors that make it unlikely our full slate of mayoral candidates will all receive the same support. In the 2010 election, the top three candidates (out of seven) received about 95% of the vote. So let’s assume this year’s election will be similar. Continuing on with the 34% turnout, there would be 199,983 votes up for grabs by the top three. The chance that a candidate will get exactly one third of those votes is about 1 in 528 (0.19%). And the odds that all three will tie? Again, it’s not going to happen.

What if one of the three receives a quarter of the vote and the other two split the remaining votes? The likelihood of that is much better than a three-way tie at about 1 in 485 (0.21%), but still, it’s just very unlikely!

With the number of votes we’re talking about, ties are just not very realistic. Even assuming 34% turnout in Ward 9 where there are just two candidates, there’s still a less than 1% chance of a tie (1 in 178, 0.56%).

This is all just simple math for the purposes of illustration, and it ignores the many, many factors that go into why someone will vote for candidate A over candidate B. Still, now you know how unlikely a tie is!