If you want me to run for Alderman…

By DJ Kelly June 25, 2010

I love Calgary. I love the vibrancy, energy and the everlasting pace. I love all of the activity this city provides us. I also love how easy it is to get involved and help improve it.

I’ve been very blessed over the past few years to be part of some great projects, which do that very thing. I’m active in:

  • the Winston Heights-Mountview Community Association,
  • the Calgary Professional Arts Alliance,
  • the Mayor’s Evening for Business and the Arts,
  • the Bob Edwards Award Luncheon,
  • PechaKucha Nights,
  • CivicCamp,
  • Reboot Alberta, and
  • Leadership Calgary.

I’ve had the pleasure of helping re-brand and build two theatres, the most recent being Lunchbox Theatre after their move to the Calgary Tower. I’m also working hard to help create Nuit Blanche Calgary, and bring a Poet Laureate and open data to the City of Calgary. Not to mention the time I spend on my blog and CBC Radio column where I get to talk about all kinds of initiatives that inspire me.

Most of these projects have been civic-minded in some way. I have even called myself a “civic advocate” – which is to say I like doing the kinds of things that make my city better.

Over the past year, friends, colleagues, and even relative strangers have been asking me to do more. Because of my civic-development focus I have been repeatedly asked to run for Alderman.

A year and a half ago I half-laughed when people asked. “Me? Surely there must be someone better.” I would think. Then as time progressed I realized people were serious and they really wanted someone like me, who was real and not just another stereotypical politician who cared more about ideology than what they thought, to represent them. I was flattered but still didn’t take the idea too seriously.

But as time has passed, and more and more people have asked me privately and publicly to run, I’ve begun to feel like I would somehow be letting them down to not do it. There is a real thirst for something different and these people really do think I can provide it; and they cared enough about it to approach me and say it.

It’s important to note I’m just a Calgarian like anyone else out there. I don’t harbour a life long ambition to be a politician. I love my life AND I see how poorly we treat our elected officials. But I do have an intense sense of duty and of right and wrong. I see many areas in our municipal government that can use fixing and I feel responsible to help fix them, both as an individual citizen, and as a community leader.

My friends and colleagues have worn me down by showing me the good I could do.

My wife, Christine, and I have talked about this for some time and we have decided that we are willing to make the sacrifice to help improve the City we love so much.

However, unlike every other candidate for public office I’ve ever heard of, I’m instead announcing that I will let my name stand for Alderman if YOU really want me to do it. You will have to be the one to decide if I run; I won’t decide for you. If you want me to run, you will have to make a sacrifice too.

I can’t do it alone. It takes a small army of volunteers to do a campaign right. (The only way I’d be willing to do it.) If you want me to run, we’ll need to run as a team. This team will need everything from doorknockers to organizers to fundraisers. I also want to know what special skills you might have which you think might be able to help.

If you want me to run, and are willing to help even for just a couple hours, please add your name to the list here:

If you are willing to make a small commitment to me, I’m willing to stand up and run for you. And I promise if you make that commitment, you will see all of the energy I’ve split across each of the projects I’ve listed above come together into the singular goal running for Alderman on your behalf. If you ask me to do this, I will give it everything I’ve got until election day and beyond.

If you want me to represent you, you have a role to play. If you’re not committed to playing that role, I’ll happily continue working on all the great civic projects I’ve got on the go. But if you think I can provide something better than what you see right now at City Council and in the declared candidates then let’s work TOGETHER to make it happen.

In 2009 Avenue Magazine said this about me: “DJ Kelly appears to be giving our stateside leader a run for his money as a community organizer. Like Barack Obama — Kelly brings passion and commitment to his cause. And that cause is making Calgary a better place to live. DJ Kelly is committed to the big picture — a better Calgary — through a more vibrant arts community, a more accountable political system and more transparent communication. And he is involved hands-on in making change.”

How “hands-on in making change” I will be is up to you.

  • Joshwhite Cui

    Which ward would you consider running in?

  • I haven't decided that quite yet, but would make my final decision partial based on who wants to help. (The public will have a huge say in how I would run a campaign, right from the ground up.) However, as an FYI, I live in Ward 9, just a few blocks from Ward 4 and Ward 7.

  • I started to fill it out, but the level of commitment scared me. I wish you had an option for “Blog about me” or “Acknowledge my existence when you see me in public.” Ahh well, there is always next time.

  • How about a “vote for me” check box on election day? Is that more your speed? lol

    Come on Mike! You know it would be fun to get to work together again!

  • Joshwhite

    I'd encourage Ward 4. Ward 9 has an excellent candidate in Gian-Carlo Carra.

  • This is really exciting DJ, congrats, and best of luck!

  • If a candidate is indeed excellent (regardless of the ward they're in) then they shouldn't be worried. I can't change their inherent awesomeness. 😉 I can only control my team.

  • I would support a progressive alternative anywhere it wouldn't increase the risk of a PGIB'r getting in. Ward 7 for example, where Steve Chapman plans to take on Druh Farrell, I wouldn't want the pursuit of a better alternative to cause a much worse to come up on the right flank and take the ward.

  • Step 1: Finding out if people want me to run first. If they do, then we'll worry about where.

  • DJ, your blog post has inspired a podcast. I'm going to make one right now.

  • Zendel

    Definately ward 4, sorry to say but I would have to vote for druh if you ran in my ward (7)

  • Joshwhite Cui

    I kinda wish someone would take on Chabot or Jones.

  • Thomas

    Glad to see this DJ, and I'm happy to help. Best of Luck!

    (living in ward 7 I'd be delighted to vote for you instead of Ms. Farrell)

  • Gian-Carlo Carra

    DJ, I'm really excited that someone of your skill set, outlook, and commitment is considering running. I believe (to a put my money where my mouth is extent) that our City needs young professional people with the willingness and ability to take time out of their career tracks to serve the public good (as opposed to representation only from individuals who view politics as a career track). When we last spoke corporeally I admonished you to consider running, and I do so again now. I appreciate your public request for input into this major decision and the realism with which you're approaching the monumentality of this decision – it represents a huge commitment from you, your family, and an army of volunteers (who are the un(or under)sung heroes of the vital civic process of elections). Hopefully needless to say it'd be my preference that you don't set your sights on 9, but in either event, I'm looking forward to our pending face to face discussion.

  • Shane@Calgaryrants

    Exciting News DJ!


  • I really think you should go for it. But not in Ward 4….. I like you, even more now that we have met….. I would hate to run against you. 😉

  • The Insider

    All factors considered, I think your strongest and best chance is in Ward 4.

    Ward 7 has a few candidates with sights set to be taking on Farrell – and to all those worried about Steve Chapman being able to win in 7…don't be too worried. I helped organize a successful aldermanic campaign against Steve in 2007 where he lost for the 4th consecuitive time in Ward 8. His personal background is quite questionable and he doesn't even live in ward 7. He also is now faced with attempting to establish a new conservative block of voters in Ward 7 that took him over a decade to establish in ward 8…that untimately lead him to a 3rd place finish in 2007 behind King and Mar in 8 (which were even vote splitting between themselves). The conservative set of voters in 7 he will be splitting up with at least 2 other candidates on that side of the spectrum…against a incumbant. He is also working directly with Craig Chandler and the PGIB…of which I will leave that to your dear readers to Google and make their own opinions about the PGIB's stances.

    Ward 9 in theory is an open race for you as well, but has a strong candidate already off and running for a number of months – and a big lead in terms of campaign presence in a wide spectrum of Ward 9 communities, established relations with vairous industry folks, and a very strong team organization. I think a DJ Kelly campaign in Ward 9 would be very interesting, but ultimately an unfortunate use of your time, people power, and resources that could be much better focused and utilized in ward 4 (or 10 or 5 if your're feeling up to challenging Chabot or Jones – heheh).

    Ward 4 is a truly 'open race' (with no established front runner) and I think that will be the best fit for the type of honest and intelligent campaign that you are capable of running.

    Good luck!

  • me

    Um, there's a residency requirement to run for alderman.

    And really, I don't want some guy parachuting into my ward. He should live here to represent me. Otherwise, he just doesn't get it.

  • me

    Please don't run in my ward if you don't live here. If you aren't my neighbour, you shouldn't be trying to get my tax dollars in the name of representing me. If you don't live in my ward, you just aren't going to understand my ward-specific issues.

    And it sounds like you're a political opportunist when you say you'll run anywhere. Run where your heart is, not where your blog friends say you should.

  • There are no residency requirements to run for alderman.

  • Robert

    Aren't we all neighbours in Calgary? Aren't we all working together toward a better city?

  • Don't worry, I'm certainly anything but an opportunist – ask anyone who knows me. The decision is to run where my house is, where my bus stop is, or where my grocery store is. My strong preference is obviously the first one.

  • me

    Hmmm, okay, then the city exempts candidates from 21(1)(b) of the Local Authorities Elections Act, but doesn't really tell anyone in an open, transparent way. Typical, of course.

  • me

    Not really. There are worlds dividing neighbourhoods like Forest Lawn from ones like Pump Hill. Can a resident of one understand the needs of the other?

  • Except you forgot 21(2) which is notwithstanding 21(1), where it states that
    “Notwithstanding subsection (1), in the case of a city, a
    candidate for councillor is not required to be a resident of the ward
    in either a general election or a by-election, but must be a resident
    of the city.”

    The city has no authority over the the Local Authorities Elections Act.

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  • Go for it, I will help You if you help me. I am also running as a newbie! I feel exactly as you do, I Love this city and want to help it play catch-up with the huge growth it has experienced. This wonderful city has given me a home for 20 plus years and my kids were born here. I am just a Mom,housewife, but am extremely excited to be also putting my money where my mouth is. The job is extremely demanding but is so important for the communities that are represented, it is the difference between ok neighbourhoods and great ones. Community assets are underused and such a terrific way to create momentum for growth and friendship, Go for it, i will help you! Go in your own ward though, be loyal!!!

  • Steve Chapman

    Residency is an interesting concept in a civic election. For one thing the boundaries change every few years. And you are right about the difference in neighbourhoods. So can someone living in Inglewood for example really know the issues of Acadia although both are in the same ward? In some cases though living in the ward you represent may be a detriment. If your alderman lives someplace else in the ward than you then he/she might face a conflict of interest on say where a new bus route goes, or a cross walk, or which park gets upgraded first.

  • Steve Chapman

    If you are going to use my name then please get your facts straight. I have run three times in ward 8. In 2004 the incumbent King won by 146 votes. In 2007 there was only 1% of the vote between King, myself, and Mar.

    I do not work for the PGIB but am a member and was on their executive for several years. This is an organization that stands up for small business rights and is one of the largest business networking groups in the city. I have met hundreds of decent hard working Calgarians through this network.

    And while Craig is a friend of mine we do not always share the same beliefs or philosophy on many issues so please find out what my stance is before tarring me with the same brush.

    And there is nothing questionable about my personal background and I resent drive by slurs without any content or context.

  • Durrani4trustee

    I am J.Durrani running for Trustee-Wards 1 &2 NW, Public School Board. DJ. Kelly knows that. DJ, it is an interesting situation? You need people support but you also need to be a decision maker. So decide if you are in or out, and what ward. I do not know you enough, just like you know not much about me. We could perhaps meet or talk on phone. I have a few groups who are very happy to know I am running, but I decided and told them that I am running and where, and they have promised to help. I think it is going well for me. Why don't you and I talk so we can see if we have similar ideas, though sounds like we have? Perhaps we can bring synergies together for the common good/goal. Trustees and Aldermen to some extent have to work together for the better society in our great city “Calgary”. DJ though you have corresponded with me, but again here is my email: or website coming soon.

  • Joe

    A good buddy of mine that was a Calgary cop back in the 80's and 90's told me that Insider story with plenty of context.

    You completely sure there Steve-O about “the facts” and your background?

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