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OPINION: Calgary, Start Your Engines!

Photo from Andrea_44 (Flickr Account)

We are approaching the halfway point of the current Calgary Council mandate, and in our opinion it's time to shift our focus toward the upcoming 2025 Calgary Municipal Election. With the last election held on October 18th, 2021, would-be prospective candidates should now be contemplating their entry into the political arena.

As the election season begins to unfolds, some johnny-come lately candidates will make make last-minute entrance announcements, but some will begin to lay the foundation in the later part of 2023, begining of 2024, to challenge to incumbents, potentially pursue potential open seats, and importantly begin attracting donors to support their campaigns.

The stage is set for a dynamic and engaging election season in Calgary.

Donations are expected to play a crucial role in this election, as demonstrated by the significant contributions raised by Political Action Groups in the previous municipal election. Groups like Calgary's Future, Calgary Tomorrow, and the Look Forward Society for Political Action of Alberta collectively raised nearly $1.1 million. Such financial support showcases the influence and importance of campaign contributions in shaping the outcome of elections.

In the last election, the race for Mayor saw candidates amass substantial funds, with the top two contenders raising over $1.4 million combined. Jeromy Farkas, a one-term Ward 11 councillor, spent $821,241, securing a commendable second-place finish. Meanwhile, Jyoti Gondek, then Ward 3 Councillor and now Mayor, spent $633,342 to emerge victorious. These numbers emphasize the significant financial investment required to run a competitive mayoral campaign.

Council races vary in terms of campaign expenditure. For instance, Ward 2 Councillor Jennifer Wyness spent just over $13,632 in her successful election bid, showcasing that effective campaigns can be run on a more modest budget. Conversely, Ward 9 Councillor Gina-Carlo Carra invested over $200,000 to secure his seat for another term.

While the exact figures for council candidates in the upcoming election remain uncertain, it is unlikely that current councillors, including Wyness, would raise less than $50,000 to mount a compelling campaign to fend off potential challengers.

While the discontent of the current council on social media platforms might suggest a surge of candidates, we shouldn't expect a full slate of contenders to emerge until the summer of 2025. Instead, I expect that we will witness various organizations attempting to promote candidates aligned with their respective interests.

As the unofficial kickoff to the 2025 Calgary Municipal Election approaches, it's crucial for citizens to stay informed, participate actively, and support candidates who align with their values and vision for the city.

The electoral process is an opportunity to shape the future of Calgary, and it is incumbent upon us to embrace this democratic responsibility. Let us look forward to a spirited and meaningful election, where the city's potential can be realized through robust debates, informed decision-making, and an engaged electorate.

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