in Alberta will be heading to the polls today to elect the municipal
councils and school trustees in 287 of Alberta's 354 municipalities.
This includes 17 of the province's 18 cities (Lloydminster, which is
partly in Saskatchewan holds elections on Saskatchewan's municipal
election day), 108 towns, 89 villages, 5 specialized municipalities,
64 municipal districts, 1 improvement district and the “Special
Areas Board”, which covers Alberta's three “special areas”.
Alberta's 51 “summer villages” held their municipal elections in
of Alberta's 17 cities holding elections, only two: Alberta's largest
cities of Calgary and Edmonton- elect their councils using a ward
structure. The remaining 15 cities elect their councils on an
at-large basis. However, in most of Alberta's 69 mainly rural
municipal districts and specialized municipalities, councils are
elected from wards or “divisions”. In most of the municipal
districts, mayors and reeves (equivalent of mayor) are not directly
elected by voters, but elected from within the municipal council,
much like how Premiers are chosen in Nunavut and the Northwest
Territories. Some towns and most villages do not have direct
elections for mayor either.
the province, there will be no election for head of council (mayor or
reeve) in the municipalities of Bashaw, Bonnyville, Bow Island,
Brazeau County, Brooks, Cardston, Coalhurst, Cold Lake, Crowsnest
Pass, Daysland, Eckville, Fairview, Grimshaw, Hanna, High Level,
Jasper, Killam, Lamont, Manning, Mayerthorpe, McLennan, Milk River,
Millet, Morinville, Olds, Picture Butte, Provost, Rimbey, Sedgewick,
Sexsmith, Slave Lake, Standard, Stettler, Swan Hills, Sylvan Lake,
Three Hills, Valleyview, Vulcan, Wainwright and Wembley. Entire
councils were acclaimed, meaning there will be no elections at all in
the municipalities of Barnwell, Bashaw, Beiseker, Bittern Lake,
Breton, Castor, Cereal, Champion, Chauvin, Coalhurst, Cremona, Czar,
Daysland, Dewberry, Donalda, Donnelly, Eckville, Ferintosh,
Girouxville, Halkirk, Hill Spring, Hussar, Irma, Kananaskis
Imrpovement District, Killam, Lomond, Lougheed, Manning, Mayerthorpe,
McLennan, Munson, Myrnam, Nobleford, Onoway, Peace No. 135, Ranchland
No. 66, Rockyford, Rosalind, Rosemary, Sedgewick, Standard,
Valleyview, Wabamun, Warburg, Warner No. 5, Waskateneau, Wembley and
Youngstown. In Beaverlodge, Bowden, Spirit River and Viking, only
elections for mayor will occur, as the entire remainder of their
councils were acclaimed. And finally, Not enough candidates came
forward for Kanasnaskis Improvement District, County of Forty Mile
No. 8, Cowley, Hines Creek and Vauxhall.
In both of Alberta's two major cities (Calgary and Edmonton), both
incumbent mayors are running for re-election. Of the two, only the
mayoral race in Calgary will be competitive as incumbent mayor Naheed
Nenshi faces stiff competition from Bill Smith, the former president
of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party. There are eight
other candidates running for mayor, including fiscal conservative
city councillor Andre Chabot, who is running in third place.
|Calgary's main mayoral candidates|
Polls are split on the outcome of today's election; Mainstreet
Research has consistently shown Smith ahead, with their final poll
published Friday giving Smith a 13 point lead over Nenshi (52% to
39%). However, a poll conducted by Forum Research for the Canadian
Municipal Election Study shows the opposite result, giving Nenshi a
17 point lead (50% to 33%). The methodologies of the two polls
differ; Mainstreet was done by IVR while the Forum poll was done
online from a sample drawn originally from a telephone recruit. The
Forum poll was done over a longer period of time (September 28 to
October 12) with a smaller sample (n=843) size compared to
Mainstreet's poll of 1500 respondents done over just two days
(October 10 to 11). While I have more faith in the phone-to-web
methodology, the longer period of time in field raises some doubt as
to the accuracy of the Forum poll. On the flip side, Mainstreet has
consistently shown Smith to be leading among younger voters, which
makes absolutely no sense. One thing is for sure though, municipal
elections are hard to poll for, thanks to them typically having lower
turnouts. The Calgary mayoral race will not only be interesting for
the clash of its two front-runners, but also a clash of competing
polling firms and their methodologies.
why could such a popular mayor potentially lose? Well, the obvious
answer is Calgary is a very conservative city, but that only
scratches the surface, as it has had a history of electing more
moderate mayors (Nenshi's predecessor, Dave Bronconnier was a
card-carrying Liberal). The big reason is the desire to have a
conservative at all at some level of government in the city. After
all, this is the first ever municipal election in the province while
under an NDP administration. And with the much-hated Justin Trudeau's
Liberals in power on a federal level, local conservatives are thirsty
for a conservative municipal government, something that Nenshi does
not represent. Nenshi is also seen as being an arrogant “charismatic
brainiac”, as Macleans
it, and has admitted to being “irritating” which is sure to
put off more populist leaning voters.
has been the city's mayor since 2010, when he won with an insurgent
candidacy, harnessing the power of social media to engage
voters with his platform, en route to winning 40% of the vote in a
three-way race. His election was a big surprise, due to his more
progressive politics in a city known for its conservatism. With his
win, Nenshi became the first Muslim mayor of a major North American
city, and in 2014 was named “World Mayor” by the City Mayors
Foundation. In 2013, Nenshi was easily re-elected to the city's top
post, as incumbent mayors often do in their second elections. Nenshi
won 74% of the vote in his race against former Tory MLA Jon Lord, who
won 21% of the vote. In his win, Nenshi won every single ward in the
city. His best ward was Ward 8, which covers the inner-city area,
where he won 83% of the vote. He also did very well in Ward 3
(winning 81%), which is in the city's northeast corner. This area is
home to a large number of immigrants and tends to vote Liberal or NDP
in provincial and federal elections (as does Ward 8). Nenshi's worst
ward was Ward 10, located in the city's east end, which was also his
worst ward in 2010. There, he still won 61% of the vote. Ward 10 is
not the most conservative part of the city, but it is the ward of
fiscally conservative councillor Andre Chabot.
|2013 ward map|
|2017 ward map|
City of Calgary's ward map has changed for this election. The city
will continue to have 14 wards, but population shifts in the city
means the north half of the city will gain a ward, while the southern
half of the city loses one. The north will now have the same number
of councillors as the south. The most significant changes to the map
came in the northeast of the corner, which sees Ward 3 move
completely west of the Deerfoot Trail, which has a domino effect, as
Ward 5 moves north to compensate, forcing Ward 10 to also move north,
and also Ward 9.
there is a progressive vs. conservative fight at the top of the
ticket, there are several wards where there will be similar
ideological battles for council seats, thanks in part to various
conservatives in the city organizing to defeat progressive and
moderate leaning candidates. Races to watch (with thanks to Calgary
resident njall from the US Election Atlas forum):
3 councillor Jim Stevenson is
not running for re-election, opening this seat up. Polling done by
the right wing advocacy group “Commons Sense Calgary” shows this
as a close race between centrist Jyoti Gondek and moderate
progressive Ian McAnerin.
Thanks to the ward redistribution, Ward 5 councillor
Ray Jones is running in Ward 10, which covers much of the same
territory. This has created an open race in the ward. Polling
suggests George Chahal has a healthy lead here, but there are a lot
of undecideds in this minority-heavy ward.
Ward 6 councillor
Richard Pootmans is not running for re-election. Conservative
candidate Jeff Davison has the lead in polling, with centrist Esmahan
Razavi in second place.
Ward 7 progressive-leaning
incumbent Druh Farrell is in a tight race against centrist candidate
Brent Alexander in this ward.
Ward 8 progressive-leaning
incumbent Evan Woolley is in a tight race against
conservative-leaning candidate Chris Davis
Ward 9 progressive-leaning
incumbent Gian-Carlo Carra is in a tight race against
conservative-leaning candidate Cheryl Link
Ward 5 incumbent councillor Ray Jones, a moderate conservative is
running Ward 10 where
he has a decent lead with a lot of undecideds. There are 10 other
candidates running against him, and all are polling in single digits.
Another open seat is Ward 11 where
Manning Institute researcher Jeromy Farkas has a decent lead in
polling over a split opposition.
all the other wards, the incumbents are conservative leaning and are
though to be shoe-ins to be re-elected.
In contrast to the mayoral race in Calgary, the one in Edmonton is
sure to be a snoozer. You see, mayor Don Iveson is on his second
election, which usually means a cake-walk election for incumbent
mayors. And that is exactly what he is about to get. Iveson faces no
serious challengers, and polling backs this up. Mainstreet's latest
poll has him winning leading with 46%, 39 points ahead of his nearest
rival, perennial candidate (and former Wildrose candidate) Don
Koziak, who was at 7%. 35% of people are undecided, but I have a
feeling many of those people will not even vote. A poll conducted by
Leger conducted a couple of weeks ago showed a near-identical result,
with Iveson leading over Koziak (45% to 7%). In addition to Iveson
and Koziak, there are 11 other candidates running for mayor.
|Edmonton's two main mayoral candidates|
The 2013 mayoral election in Edmonton was supposed to be a three-way
race, but Iveson, a two-term city councillor was easily elected with
62% of the vote, defeating former Liberal MLA Karen Leibovici who won
19% of the vote and councillor (now Conservative MP) Kerry Diotte,
who won 15% of the vote. Iveson's best ward was Ward 8, which covers
the Strathcona part of the city, an area that regularly votes NDP in
provincial and federal elections, and is easily the most left wing
part of the city. There, he won 70% of the vote. Iveson's worst ward
was Ward 1, which covers West Edmonton, an area where Leibovici
represented when she was an MLA.
With the race for mayor being all but decided, the real races in the
city will be for the city's 12 council seats. Like Calgary, Edmonton
saw its ward boundaries change, but they were much more minor in
scope. The most significant change was between the borders of wards 9
and 10 and between wards 11 and 12, to account for the growing
suburbs in the south end of the city. Ward 10 gains the
neighbourhoods of Twin Brooks, Blackburne, Blackmud Creek, Cashman,
Cavanagh, Callaghan and Allard from Ward 9, while Ward 12 gains the
neighbourhoods of Minchau, Weinlos, Bisset, Pollard Meadows, Daily
Grove and Crawford Plains from Ward 11.
|2013 ward map|
|2017 ward map|
According to political scientist John Brennan, these are the city
council races to watch in Edmonton:
Ward 3 incumbent Dave
Loken has had the support of mayor Don Iveson, which is a rarity in
municipal politics. He is being challenged by a number of strong
candidates, which might divide his opposition in the ward.
Ward 4 is
an open race with former
Liberal MLA Ed Gibbons deciding to not run for re-election. Brennan
believes the main candidates will be Rocco Caterina (son of
councillor Tony Caterina, a Tory), New Democrat Aaron Paquette,
public servant Alison Poste and Tricia Velthuizen, a research analyst
for the new United Conservative Party.
Ward 5 is another open race
with incumbent Michael Oshry not running for re-election. The race
will be between four main candidates, businesswoman Sarah Hamilton
who was endorsed by former mayor Stephen Mandel, a Tory; Dawn Newton
an active member of the Women's Advocacy Voice of Edmonton; Miranda
Jimmy, an indigenous woman who is the program manager of the Edmonton
Heritage Council; and David Xiao, the former PC MLA for
Edmonton-McClung, which covers part of this ward.
Ward 6 incumbent
Scott McKeen, a former columnist for the Edmonton Journal may see a
challenge from businessman Tish Prouse who lost his bid in Ward 7 in
2013 and from another businessman, Bill Knight.
Ward 7 will see Tory incumbent
Tony Caterina face off against two progressive opponents who may
split the vote: Kris Andreychuk, the city's supervisor of public
safety and Mimi Williams, a perennial candidate and activist who
received the endorsement form the Edmonton and District Labour
Ward 8 is home to the city's
most left wing city councillor, Ben Henderson. He is facing off
against two other centre-left candidates, James Kosowan and Kristen
Goa, both New Democrats.
Ward 9 is
an open seat, thanks to incumbent councillor Bryan Anderson not
running for re-election. Brennan sees this race as being between
engineer Tim Cartmell and physician Rob Agostinis. Cartmell has the
endorsement of Anderson, and a former Tory MLA, while Agostinis has
the endorsement of the Edmonton and District Labour Council.
over 100,000 people, Red Deer is now the third largest municipality
in the province, having passed Strathcona County in the last census.
It is also the largest municipality in the province without a
municipal ward structure. All eight city councillors are elected on
an at-large basis; Each voter in the city votes for eight
councillors, and the eight candidates with the most votes are
elected. In 2013, voters had a chance to change that in a plebiscite
which asked voters whether or not they would like to have a ward
system in place, but voters overwhelmingly opposed the measure, with
of voters supporting the idea.
|Red Deer mayoral candidates|
race for mayor of Red Deer is between incumbent mayor Tara Veer and
Sean Burke, who is owns a digital advertising provider business.
Veer, who had been a city councillor was elected as mayor of the city
in 2013, defeating fellow councillor Cindy Jefferies in a narrow 46%
to 39% victory. This time it is unlikely to be as close. Her main
challenger is focusing on social issues such as homelessness, and is
an admitted recovering crystal meth addict, which may not fly well in
this conservative city. Veer for her part is more conservative
having worked for a Conservative MP in the past.
|Red Deer polling division map used in 2013|
2013 election, Veer won all but four of the polling divisions in the
city, getting her best results in the city's more conservative, newer
suburbs. Her best polling station covers the Clearview Ridge area in
the city's northeast, where she won 58% of the vote. Jeffries
appealed more to voters in the more left leaning central part of the
city, where she won the remaining four polling divisions. She won a
majority of votes in just poll, an area that
covers the Downtown part of the city, where she won 54% of the vote.
Many thanks to the City of Red Deer's election office which sent
me last election's poll division map, which could not be found on the
fourth largest municipality in Alberta is Strathcona County, a
“specialized municipality” mainly consisting of the Hamlet of
Sherwood Park, a large suburb on Edmonton's eastern fringe. Over 70%
of the county's residents live in Sherwood Park, which is otherwise
unincorporated. From Edmonton, the county runs north to Fort
Saskatchewan and the North Saskatchewan River, east to Elk Island
National Park, and south past Cooking Lake. The county elects a
mayor, and eight councillors, one from each of the county's eight
wards. Five of the wards are located in Sherwood Park, and the
remaining three represent the more rural parts of the municipality.
|Strathcona County's main mayoral candidates|
race for mayor of Strathcona County will be an interesting one, as
there are four credible candidates, three of which have some sort of
partisan background. The only one who doesn't is the incumbent mayor,
Roxanne Carr, who is nonetheless conservative enough to be the mayor
of an Alberta suburb. Before becoming mayor in 2013, Carr sat on
County council, representing Ward 2, which covers the north-central
part of Sherwood Park. In addition to her, the other candidates are:
-Former PC MLA Jacquie Fenske, who represented the rural northern
part of Strathcona County when she represented the riding of Fort
Saskatchewan-Vegreville from 2012 to 2015. She was previously a
county councillor, representing Ward 5, which covered that same rural
northern part of the county.
- Former mayor Linda Osinchuk, who was mayor from 2010 to 2013 when
she was defeated by Carr in a very close two-way race. Since her
defeat, Osinchuk ran in the 2015 election for the Wildrose Party in
the riding of Sherwood Park, finishing in third place. Interestingly,
the woman she beat to become mayor in 2010 (Cathy Olesen) was her PC
opponent in 2015, who finished in second place behind the NDP. Before
becoming mayor, Osinchuk represented Ward 3 on County council, which
covers the south-central part of Sherwood Park.
Rod Frank, who was the Liberal candidate in the 2015 federal election
in Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, coming in 2nd
place behind the Conservative candidate, winning 20% of the vote.
Interestingly, Frank is eschewing the fact he ran as a Liberal, and
claims to have run as a “fiscal conservative and social
progressive”, which doesn't really describe the 2015 Liberal Party
platform in my opinion.
- Finally the candidate who will likely place last is David Dixon,
who is running on the more progressive platform of the five
candidates. His past political experience includes running for mayor
of the District of North Vancouver in 2005, where he placed last with
6% of the vote.
2013 election saw an interesting divide in the County, and was only
possible due to the sheer closeness of the result. Carr defeated
Osinchuk by fewer than 500 votes, winning 51% to Osinchuk's 49%. The
divide was not urban vs. rural as one might expect, but rather north
Carr, who represented a ward in northern Sherwood Park as councillor,
won the five more northerly wards in the county, while Osinchuk, who
represented a ward in southern Sherwood Park when she was a
councillor, won that one ward in Sherwood Park and the two southerly
rural wards. Carr's top ward was Ward 2 (59%), where
she was the councillor and Osinchuk's best ward was Ward 6 (54%) in
the rural southwest.
|Strathcona County's ward map|
The 2017 ward map will be nearly identical to the 2013 map, save for
a minor border change between Wards 3 and 6.
Lethbridge is Alberta's fourth largest city, and just like Red Deer,
it has no wards, electing its eight councillors on an at-large basis.
The Lethbridge mayoral race will be between incumbent mayor Chris
Spearman, University of Lethbridge student and Indigenous activist
Martin Heavy Head and perennial council candidate Bob Janzen.
Spearman was first elected as mayor in 2013, defeating three other
candidates. Prior to that he was a businessman and had also run in
the 2010 mayoral election, narrowly losing. He will likely win
re-election, as his opponents are not as strong. His main opponent
will likely be Heavy Head, who became the first Indigenous person to
run for Lethbridge City Council in 2013, winning over 4000 votes,
1700 behind the eight place spot needed to be elected. Janzen has
also run for council in the past, winning 1572 votes in 2004 and 938
votes in 2010.
|Lethbridge's main mayoral candidates|
2013 race in Lethbridge saw Spearman elected mayor with 46% of the
vote. His next closest rival was city councillor Bridget Mearns, who
had worked for a number of conservative politicians in
won 30% of the vote, 3800 votes behind Spearman. Spearman won every
polling division in the city, but none of them with the majority of
votes. His support was very evenly distributed, winning 49%
of the vote in his best poll (which covers the Copperwood
neighbourhood in the southwest of the city) and winning 42% of the
vote in his worst poll, which covers the Downtown area of the city.
His support was slightly better in the more conservative suburbs of
the city, and worse in the left leaning inner-city.
|Lethbridge polling division map used in 2013|
Up in the northeast corner of the province is the sprawling Regional
Municipality of Wood Buffalo, home to Fort McMurray and not much else
(just a number of small villages). Wood Buffalo happens to be the
fourth largest municipality in the country in terms of geographic
area. As it is home to a large non-permanent population, and due to a
giant Wildfire that ravaged Fort McMurray at the time of the 2016
census, it is hard to gauge exactly how many people live in the
municipality. Some estimates have the population being over 100,000,
but the census reported 72000 people in the 62000 sq. km
municipality, 67000 of those 72000 live(d) in Fort McMurray.
Wood Buffalo Municipal Council is elected via a ward system. The
municipality has four wards; Ward 1 covers Fort McMurray and elects
six at-large councillors. Ward 2 covers the northern two thirds of
the municipality, and elects two at-large councillors. Wards 3 and 4
in the south elect one councillor each. Representation on council
does not accurately reflect population; despite over 90% of the
municipality's population living in Fort McMurray, its weight on
council is only 60%.
time mayor Melissa Blake will not be running for re-election, making
the race for mayor an open one for
the first time since 2004.
The candidates to replace her are realtor Allan Grandison, ward 3
councillor Allan Vinni, helicopter pilot Anthony Needham and former
Tory MLA Don Scott, who represented the riding of Fort
McMurray-Conklin from 2012 to 2015.
|Wood Buffalo ward map|
St. Albert is a suburb of Edmonton, home to 65,000 people. Its mayor,
Nolan Crouse, is retiring after 10 years as mayor. He had decided to
run for the provincial Liberal Party's leadership earlier this year,
but dropped out after just two days. The race to replace him is
between incumbent councillors Cathy Heron and Cam Mackay and former
councillor Malcolm Parker. According to Dave Cournoyer's blog, the
race has been divisive, as is apparently the norm in the city. On
council, voters will elect six at-large councillors.
In southeastern Alberta is the province's sixth largest city of
Medicine Hat. Its mayor, Ted Clugston is running for re-election
after first being elected mayor in 2013. There are three candidates
running against Clugston; former alderman (councillor) John Hamill,
local broadcaster and teacher Scott Raible and Thomas “Tall Bike
Tommy” Fougere, a local outspoken vlogger. On council, voters will
elect eight at-large councillors.
In northwestern Alberta is the province's seventh largest city of
Grande Prarie. Its mayor, Bill Given is running for re-election for
the second time, after first being elected in 2010. Running against
him is Grande Prairie Petroleum Association member Dick Baillie,
Theodore Nikiforuk and Rony Rajput, who has technically dropped out
of the race due to finding out he technically lives outside of the
city, but will still appear on the ballot. On council, voters will
elect eight at-large councillors.
Airdrie, an exurb of Calgary, is the fastest growing city in the
province, growing from 43,000 to 62,000 people between the last two
censuses. Last election saw its incumbent mayor, Peter Brown
re-elected with no opposition, after first being elected in 2010 when
the city was nearly half of its current size. This time around he is
facing competition from four candidates. Brown will face some stiff
competition from his deputy mayor, Fred Burley as well as volunteer
Marie Lauer, senior manager Blaine Astra and retired businessman
Bernie Biever. On council, voters will elect six at-large
Rocky View County
Rocky View County is a rural municipal district that surrounds the
City of Calgary on its west, north and east sides, fully surrounding
the City of Airdrie, and other exurban Calgary municipalities as
well. It is the largest municipality in the province without a direct
election for mayor. In fact, Rocky View doesn't have a mayor, it has
a reeve, and he or she will be chosen from among the County's council
following the election. The county is divided into 9 divisions, each
electing one councillor. Incumbent reeve Greg Boehilke represents
Division 6, located in the northeast corner of the county, and is
running for re-election there against John McMurray.
|Rocky View County division map|
There are of course many other races across the province, but those
are the ones in the 11 largest municipalities. Polls will be closing
at 8pm Mountain Time, which is 10pm Eastern.