I think I've made my decision about who I will be voting for on October 18.
We have an interesting, if somewhat bewildering array of candidates for the mayor's chair this year.
At the moment, there are really three that seem to matter - Ric McIver, Barb Higgins and Naheed Nenshi.
I've read all of their respective websites, listened to the soundbites on various news sources and so on.
Where McIver is concerned, I simply don't have any confidence in the man. He has been a force of division and polarization on a council that desperately needed unification and leadership. I simply cannot see how a man who made his mark by being "Doctor No" for the last nine years is suddenly going to be able to lead that same body without falling into the politics of division.
In a similar vein, I remember well his first two election campaigns - managed by none other than this man. The campaign against former Alderman Sue Higgins was filled with disrespect for both Ms. Higgins as well as the simple rules of good conduct in a campaign. How much access/influence McIver's former campaign manager might have on McIver is unknown to me - any is far too much given some of his antics in the years since that first campaign. (Yes, I remember him playing "audience plant" and trying to trap Higgins with leading, loaded (and irrelevant) questions ... even when he had been standing at the door passing out McIver's literature as a campaign worker)
Ms. Higgins I simply cannot fathom why she's running. So far she has gone out of her way to avoid saying anything meaningful. She's a pretty face, but frankly doesn't seem to have any opinions of her own. It seems to me that she's running on her public profile, and does not represent any new ideas or concepts in government. Sure, she's not from the current council, but I'm not in the least bit convinced that she would be any different in how she handled council and policy.
Naheed Nenshi represents just about everything that the other two front runners do not.
He has actual ideas about what needs to change, and how to change it reasonably. He's clearly paid attention to both the way the current council has been working (or not working, as the case may be), and has some pretty sensible ideas about how it should be approached.
On top of all that, he's actually managed to reach out to the disengaged voters in this city. He's not just doing the usual beat of forums, fundraisers and debates. He has used social media tools effectively (and honestly - it's actually him that answers on twitter, not an aide).
I had the opportunity to attend a "Coffee Meeting" with Nenshi at a friend's place this past week. It was a smallish group - only about 8 of us. But Nenshi still showed up, and we all had a very engaging time talking about the politics and policy. Nenshi might not be as slick as Bronconnier was, or as polished as McIver tries to be, but he's clear and articulate ... and more importantly he has ideas that show that he's actually thought about things and is aware of the realities of the extent of city council's authority.
Above all, he comes across as pragmatic. Nenshi doesn't label himself as a "conservative" or a "liberal" ... or any other stripe. He seems to be willing to draw from the valuable ideas of any perspective and use to solve problems. We've had too much of people confining themselves to a particular notion of a given political ideology in this province - a pragmatist would be good for Calgary.
I'm sold. Calgary's city council needs a change. That isn't going to come from someone who has been on council for the last ten years; nor is it going to come from any of the former councillors who have come forward as candidates for the mayor's chair. As for the rest of the candidates - as usual, they remain complete unknowns for most of Calgary's citizens and their share of the vote will no doubt reflect that.