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Metro column: Ask not what politics can do for you…

By DJ Kelly September 17, 2010

There’s a certain level of narcissism needed to enter politics.

To stand up in front of all of us and say, “I know what is best for you” —  well, that takes a lot of confidence.

Yet every politician — or wannabe politician — will tell you they take that stand for no reason other than they want to help make Calgary a better place for all Calgarians.

Well, the time has arrived. It’s time to find out who really is in it for Calgarians and who’s just in it for themselves.

Only one person will become our next mayor, but 14 people will become our next aldermen. It takes eight votes to get anything done at city hall, so those 14 aldermen are equally as important as the mayor, who only has one vote at council.

With 17 candidates vying for the centre chair, it’s a fair guess that if you are not polling in the top third, say, by this point in the race, the odds of a victory are almost nil.

So if you are not Ric McIver, Barb Higgins, Naheed Nenshi, Bob Hawkesworth or Kent Hehr, what do you do? Do you keep running for mayor because you believe you’re the right person for the job? Do you let your ego take over?

Or do you take the time to realize that if you really do have good ideas, and you and your supporters really do think you could make a difference, it might be time to find another way: Run for alderman.

Each alderman has exactly the same power as the mayor — it’s just not as prestigious. You don’t get invited to as many events or asked to speak at as many galas. But you do get to shape policy and make vital decisions in exactly the same way the mayor does.

If candidates really do have Calgary’s best interests at heart, and not their own, I’d like to see how many of them can swallow their pride and do what’s best for the city for which they claim to care so deeply.

If candidates like Wayne Stewart and Alnoor Kassam — or even Craig Burrows, Jon Lord or Joe Connelly, who have all been aldermen before — have such great ideas, why not run for alderman to ensure they get implemented?

Nomination papers need to be submitted by Monday. I know it sounds harsh, but by noon we’ll have a good idea of who’s got Calgary’s best interests at heart, and who’s just in it for themselves.

  • CalgaryVoter

    Up Front, as a Wayne Stewart supporter, I wish you wouldn’t dismiss him so handily. The “Front Five” that you pick certainly aren’t any of my choices. I regret voting Ric McGiver as Alderman in the past, Barb Higgins is fluff and candy foss, Kent Hehr should never have sacrificed his day job, Bob Hawlksworth is so “last century” and Nenshi is good but will never get his youth vote out. I think the voters will go for Wayne Stewart.