An election is the ultimate exercise in personal branding.
If you try to be something you are not, people will figure it out pretty quickly and you’ll see your vote totals affected accordingly.
Most of the candidates in this election have this down to a science. Ric McIver for nine years has been the common sense-style conservative. He pledges to cut spending and ensure we are only paying taxes for necessary items. He doesn’t stray from this mould very often.
Barb Higgins is a friendly face who Calgarians have invited into their living rooms nightly for years as a respected newscaster. On the campaign trail, Higgins is friendly and always happy to have a conversation. In the style of a television journalist with only a minute and a half for a story, her manner is very frank and she cuts to the chase.
Naheed Nenshi is the professor, the guy with the ideas. He knows what he’s talking about and how those things apply to Calgarians. He talks about city hall as only an outsider with intense understanding of the inner workings can.
As any first-year marketing student knows, candidates can’t play against their brand. It’s called “going with your strengths.”
This is why the behaviour of the Bob Hawkesworth campaign has been so bizarre this past week.
Even more than Ald. Gord Lowe or Ald. Dale Hodges, Hawkesworth has been city council’s statesman. You may not always agree with him, but he’s always willing to explain his position and why his view is important. In the meantime, he’d pick apart opponents’ positions with sound logic in a stern, matter-of-fact tone. He’ll put his thoughts up against anyone’s and let the best argument win.
He’s our Uncle Bob.
However, this past week his campaign has gone in a direction I doubt anyone saw coming.
They began attacking all three candidates ahead of him in the polls using clipped videos, anti-candidate websites and attempting to boil down complex issues to “you’re either with me, or you’re against me.”
The new direction is so striking that it turned off many election followers. I can only imagine it is turning off some of his long-time fans, too.
The contrast is not the Bob we all have grown to know and respect: A man always willing to listen and explain why he disagrees with you. Now people who disagree get shouted down by his campaign team.
But Hawkesworth himself still isn’t behaving this way. In each forum he’s been a feisty man of grace, steadily setting himself apart from the others by taking principled stands on issues that often don’t prove popular.
One can only hope his campaign finds the right balance soon. Otherwise the election might not be the only thing Uncle Bob loses.
Today Naheed Nenshi has announced he will be running for mayor. On Monday we can expect a similar announcement from Bob Hawkesworth. The big winner from these announcements? Ric McIver.
As recently as yesterday, things were not looking great for Mr. McIver’s chances of becoming Calgary’s next mayor. As each mayoral candidate announced (Joe Connelly, Jon Lord, Craig Burrows) observers could see small parts of McIver’s assumed lead chipping away. Once Kent Hehr announced, enough had been chipped away that we were looking at a very real two way fight between McIver and Hehr.
With Nenshi and Hawkesworth entering the race, it’s fair to assume Mr. Hehr is now the one experiencing the chipping away of potential voters from his target group. It’s my guess that when it all plays out, enough will have been chipped away to return Mr. McIver to a healthy leading position once again.
What are your thoughts?
Cross posted to calgarypolitics.com
The world has changed a LOT in the last few years. Things are speeding up so fast many of us have difficulty keeping up. Stereotypically the ones complaining about this “speeding up of life” are members of older generations. This isn’t ageist – its just that those under the age of 35 have grown up with a high level of change and haven’t been around long enough to remember any form of ”good old days” when the pace of life was different.
As my grandma once told me: each generation that has passed has experienced more change in their lifetime than the one immediately preceding them. Or you could just ask anyone who has had to ask a toddler to program their latest gadget; they’ll tell you. (My best friend’s daughter who is just two is already better than I am with Skype for example.)
While it has been my experience frame of mind, rather than age, is usually a much better indicator of willingness to work with – rather than against – the new challenges the world may give you, there is sadly no denying it can be a factor. So with that in mind, here is the list of the ages of Calgary City Council incumbents as of voting day 2010. Decide for yourself if their is an age pattern to the ones you agree with, and compare your philosophies with the ones about the same age as you.
Although, there are none under 40 so I can’t really compare myself on that basis. And I’m not sure how many of my blog readers will be able to either. (Perhaps that’s a naive assumption on my part however.) Either way, I still find it interesting to know the demographics of those who represent me and I thought you might too. So here they are:
Dave Bronconnier – 48
Dale Hodges – 69
Gord Lowe – 71
Jim Stevenson – 65
Bob Hawkesworth – 59
Ray Jones – 57
Joe Connelly – (Couldn’t find his age.)
Druh Farrell – 51
John Mar – 41
Joe Ceci – 53
Andre Chabot – 51
Brian Pincott – 49
Ric McIver – 51
Diane Colley-Urquhart – 61
Linda Fox-Mellway – (Couldn’t find her age.)
These ages are based off of numbers I pulled from the introductory articles of candidates in one of our two big newspapers during the 2007 election, so I can’t vouch that they are 100% accurate. Please forgive me if there is a mistake.
And yes, there is something to be said for having life experience too.
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.
Below is some interesting information to help frame the discussion around whether Ald. Chabot’s council approved map is a good solution and if a proper process was followed.
Policy Title: Ward Boundary Determination and Review
Policy Number: CC017
Approved by: Council
Effective Date: 1993 May 03
The criteria used by the Returning Officer for reporting or in developing proposals
during ward boundary reviews are as follows:
- Total Population/Total Electors – all calculations will be based on the number of electors and total population. The total population is to be relatively equal between the wards. It is desirable to maintain a relative equality between the wards and the number of electors;
- Deviation – the maximum allowed deviation from the mean population per ward is +/- 25%. The preferred deviation that the Returning Officer should attempt to achieve is +/- 10 to 15%. This is consistent with current court decisions.
- Future Growth – the potential for growth in each ward over the next 10 years is a factor to be considered.
- Community Boundaries – wherever possible the Ward Boundaries and The City developed Community District Boundaries should coincide. Community Association boundaries are given consideration to attain limited splits. It should be noted that these are not controlled by The City and are difficult to guarantee.
- Easily Identifiable Boundaries – wherever possible, the Ward Boundaries shall be readily identifiable to the public by utilizing major streets, significant topography, etc.
- Least Number of Changes – to reduce confusion to the electorate and implementation costs, proposals developed by the Returning Officer should involve the fewest changes possible to accomplish the required adjustments.
- Block Shaped Wards – in accordance with the 1960 October 19 plebiscite, wards are to be relatively “block” shaped and not “pie” shaped with the downtown being the centre of the pie.
- Environmental Mix – efforts will be made to equalize, wherever possible, the distribution of commercial, rural, industrial, institutional and green space areas between the wards.
- Philosophy of Approach – the general philosophy to be used in developing proposals for Ward Boundary changes are two fold; (a) to develop changes which should not require major adjustments for a span of three general elections; and (b) to have the higher population in the more stable inner city wards and the lower population in the growth area wards.
You’ll also notice that no where in this policy – that was first written in 1960 – does it give the criteria of 5 aldermen on the east side of Deerfoot. So why is it appropriate to suddenly give this new criteria to the Returning Officer after she submitted her proposals? After all she’s been at work on those proposals since May 2006…
Here is is the text of C2009-12 Attachment 1 which shows where the ball started rolling at that time:
Council asked Administration to begin the ward boundary revisions earlier than scheduled by the Policy. At its meeting of 2006 May 15, Council adopted the following recommendation, as amended, FCS2006-19:
“3. Direct Administration to commence a process for a major Ward redistribution in 2008 January, with a view to have the complete recommendations to Council before spring of 2009.”
Following that the Returning Officer sped things up considerably before returning with Report 2008-83 on 2008 November 28 giving two proposed options. Alderman Chabot apparently was a fan because an excerpt of those minutes show:
“REFER, Moved by Alderman Chabot, Seconded by Alderman Connelly, that Report C2008-83 be referred to Administration to report to the 2009 February 09 Combined Meeting of Council with a comparison to the recommendations which were contained in Options A and B in 2006.”
The Returning Officer did just that. She showed up with the same documents as well as the maps she created in 2006 for the 2007 election that were not adopted. On 2009 February 09 C2009-12 was adopted which states:
1. Adopt Scenario A as the ward boundaries for the 2010 general election; and
2. Direct Administration to prepare a bylaw to amend Bylaw 19M91, Ward Boundary Bylaw, to return to Council no later than 2009 March.”
The bylaw was written. 13M2009 could now have first reading.
Then along came 2009 March 16 with C2009-21 when proposals by Ald. Chabot, Ald. Farrell and Ald. Hawkesworth were also tabled. The suggestion was:
“That with respect to Bylaw 13M2009, Being a Bylaw Of The City of Calgary To Amend Bylaw 19M91, To Establish Ward Boundaries, Alderman Chabot, Farrell and Hawkesworth’s proposals be referred to the Returning Officer for a report to the 2009 April 06 Combined Meeting of Council.”
C2009-21 goes on to state:
1. Abandon Bylaw 13M2009; and
2. Give Bylaw 25M2009 first reading.
And here we are with bylaw 25M2009 – Ald. Chabot’s proposed map – having had first reading and everything the Returning Officer has been instructed to do since 1993 being thrown out the window.
Remember that policy given to the Returning Officer in 1993? How much of that do you see in Ald. Chabot’s map? It’s been a long journey from the high ideals of 1993 to the gerrymander of 2009.
Oh, and by the way: from AOCC2009-58 (the infamous meeting where Aldermen asked the Returning Officer to come up with a proposal showing 5 aldermen on the east side of Deerfoot):
The Committee determined it was uncomfortable with recommending a specific Ward boundary Scenario to Council.
But thanks for the map Ald. Chabot!
And after all that boring blah-blah-blah. How about some maps showing the history of proposals from 2006 until now?
I hope that helps you make a little more sense of it. It’s all very confusing. Suffice to say: don’t gerrymander, let the Returning Officer do what you asked them to do. Sometimes the simplest things that prove to be the hardest…
PS – A big thank you the the City Clerk for tracking down all 17 documents associated with C2009-12 and C2009-21.