Replacing Naheed Nenshi
Whose Got What It Takes To Dethrone Calgary's Popular Mayor?
December 1st, 2012 - R. Rados
Calgary's most popular mayor, Naheed Nenshi, has his critics. He has been on national news programs, local radio programs across the country, and he has even done interviews with the BBC. In his short time as mayor, he has become Canada's most well known civil servant. Not everyone is feeling the same warm fuzziness that the beloved mayor's wit and charm produces in his supporters. Nenshi's support for the city council's ludicrous and unjustified tax hikes have earned him some critics on the Calgary Herald's editorial staff and among Calgary's general population. To some, the mayor's snark and lack of restraint when engaging average citizens on Twitter and Facebook only helps to solidify the idea that Mr. Nenshi is, in fact, thin skinned and unable to handle harsh criticisms of his policies and personality. Others might find it refreshing to see a quick witted civil servant cut down, undermine, and insult the intelligence of anyone who publicly criticizes him. Engaging citizens is a good thing, but it's all about how it's being done and Naheed Nenshi isn't doing it in a way that can be called respectable. His antics, contradictions, and ill-informed remarks about local politicians, councillors, and citizens is nothing more than infantile. Click the links to read more about Mr. Nenshi's courageous online and offline exploits.
Mr. Nenshi left Ric McIver in tears on his election night in 2010. He beat McIver by 8% and won the election with 40% of the total vote. It was hardly a landslide or a full stamp of approval from Calgarians, but it was enough. In November of 2012, Nenshi made his bid for re-election official.
With an apparent approval rating of around 85%, it would take a high profile, sharp wit, or a good plan to defeat Mr. Nenshi. It might even take all three of those things.
Canadians and Calgarians alike seem to put a precedence on charisma and personality, rather than substance and new ideas. This could explain Barack Obama's 65% approval rating amongst Canadians and the complaints about our evil Prime Minister and his drone-like personality and lack of charisma. Alberta isn't home to many charismatic and vibrant power players; that honour belongs to Quebec (Trudeau, Chretien, Duceppe). However, there could still be hope for some of the city's local characters. Whoever steps up to the plate will have to do exactly what Mr. Nenshi was able to do: make civic politics interesting. Whoever steps up will have to do it better and with more class.
It sounds like a daunting task, but Mr. Nenshi's lack of professionalism, humility, and modesty could be what seals the deal for his opponent.
With that being said, let's entertain some possibilities.
Richard Jones, lawyer, former Wildrose candidate for Calgary-Acadia
He is a successful lawyer and he nearly beat PC MLA, Jonathan Denis, losing by only 535 votes in the Alberta provincial election. He was a strong opponent of the PC government's .05 drinking and driving law. His political hero is Preston Manning.
Harvey Locke, writer, Liberal Party candidate for Calgary-Centre
He lost to Joan Crockatt by a slim 5%. He is a centrist liberal/Liberal and could appeal to a large enough majority of Calgary's diverse population. He is a high profile conservationist and served as Vice President of the Canadian Parks And Wilderness Society.
Monte Solberg, columnist, former MP
Born in Calgary, Solberg has the wit to match Naheed Nenshi. He is tenured and has experience as a federal Member Of Parliament. He is also tech savvy and does well with social media and the internet. Solberg is currently employed by the Calgary Sun.
Rick Hanson, Calgary's Chief Of Police
Hanson is a tenured civil servant; a respectable and honourable one who has served the city for over two decades.
Dale Hodges, Alderman
Hodges was one of four who opposed Calgary's controversial 5% property tax hike. He is Calgary's longest serving Alderman and has been known for being active in his community.
Druh Farrel, Alderwoman
She's often feisty, outspoken, and bold. Well liked in her ward, Farrel could challenge the incumbent.
Jarome Iginla, NHL hockey player
One of the Flame's most popular players, Iginla could pack the celebrity punch needed to knock Mr. Nenshi off his feet. However, he had better have some good ideas before ever considering a run.