Calgary Municipal Election: 2010 will be a year of new faces

By DJ Kelly March 21, 2010

2010 is going to be a year of sweeping change at Calgary’s City Hall.

If you’ve been paying attention to the papers these past couple years you’ll know there is a deep seeded frustration among Calgarians with their current council. And with that frustration has come the hope for something better. ?(Affectionately referred to as “hope-y change-y stuff” by Fox News commentator Sarah Palin.)

But will the public get the change they have cried for? To do this, half of council would need to change. Given Calgary City Council’s average turnover, 2007 saw a “lot” of change when three incumbents were defeated and one retired. However four is a long way from a majority of new faces, and that is something that has not happened in a very long time. As a matter of fact, only five of the current 15 council members were not sitting in their same seat in 2001. That’s not much change over the last decade.

However 2010 may just be shaping up to the year it actually happened.

First Dave Bronconnier announced that he will not be seeking another term. Then two days ago Bob Hawkesworth, who first became an alderman in 1980, announced he would be doing the same and stepping away from his aldermanic seat.

I realize this is only two incumbents stepping aside and does not look good for the prospect of “change”, but despite the Calgary Herald yesterday announcing “all other aldermen have indicated they will be on a ward ballot this fall” I think we may see a couple others stepping aside before nomination day arrives.

To begin with, not all aldermen have formally announced their intentions. I would not be surprised to see one or two more announce they will be retiring from politics. According the City’s website Dale Hodges has held his aldermanic seat since 1983. Meanwhile Joe Ceci and Linda Fox-Mellway have been aldermen for fifteen years and Ray Jones has been warming a chair for seventeen years. Gord Lowe is now 71 – the oldest on council – and may be looking to slow down. All of these council members I would estimate are potentials to step down still.

At the same time we know Ald. Ric McIver is almost certain to throw his hat in the ring for mayor. Assuming this happens, this is one guaranteed new face on council. Joe Connelly has positioned himself well for a run at the mayoral seat as well. At the same time Diane Colley-Urquhart has been rumoured to be thinking about it too (although no one has come forward with evidence she is seriously considering it yet).

If I had to hazard a guess, it would be that there may be five members of the current 15 members of council that will choose not to run in their current position come September. That alone would represent more change than we’ve seen in a very long time. Heck even 2001, the last year the incumbent mayor did not run, there were only five new faces on council following the election!

If we factor in the same amount of turnover as the 2007 election in the form of frustration aimed at the current council, it is very possible, albeit not probable, we could be seeing a majority of newbies come October 19. Even if this doesn’t happen, we will still be seeing more turnover in one go round than many of us can remember.

Now for the big question: will it be good turnover? The kind that?alleviates?Calgarians’?frustrations? Stay tuned to find out.

This post has been cross posted to The Best Political Team in the Blogosphere. Check it out for all your coverage of the 2010 Calgary Municipal Election.