An Outsiders Take on The 2010 Civic Election Wednesday August 25, 2010

Before I start in to my spiel, here are some caveats of note.

One, I have been closely watching the 2010 Calgary municipal races from quite a distance. Earlier this year, I was asked to help out with the online entity for a potential campaign run. Unfortunately, that campaign did not see the light of day, but it did give me a great excuse to spend far too much time analyzing the current issues surrounding the race and the challenges of getting a candidates message out.

Two, Although, I will not be able to vote this year, I am an open supporter of Naheed Nenshi’s campaign for the Mayor’s office. I really believe that people need to spend a bit of time reading his thoughts and vision for a modern Calgary. (Why I mention that off the top of a post, I’ll get to a bit later)

So with those tidbits out of the way, let me begin.

October 18th, 2010

The 2010 Calgary Civic Election

In my honest opinion, October 18th, 2010 will be looked upon as a defining moment in the history of Calgary.

After, what seems like, an eternity of guidance under Dave Bronconcrete, we Calgarians are set to usher in a new era of civic policies. There is the potential for major upheaval in the aldermanic roster of city council and of course a new mayor, who will dictate a new direction for the city.

The city is almost breaking the 1.2 million population threshold and as a city we are looking to make major headway in the lower rungs of the Global City sphere. Couple that with the recent maturation of Calgary into one of the key centres for cultural and economic development in Western Canada and you can quickly see why this is an important election.

We are at a defining crossroads and this election will ultimately define this city’s direction – for better or for worst. Will we become a sustainable and vibrant city or will we continue on a rudderless path? Will a new mayor really understand what this city needs or continue to regard it as 800K western outpost?

But unfortunately, municipal politics for most citizens is a bit of an afterthought.

If we are to be honest with ourselves, municipal politics is just a more professional extension of High School Presidential elections. We all see the signs and promises, but typically the average voter only votes based on name recognition and popularity. The only deviation which may occur is when, a candidate comes highly recommend by our best friends.

Which is a shame because the decisions made by our municipal representatives have a greater impact on our daily lives than our Provincial and Federal counterparts.

Where Traditional Media is Failing

Unfortunately, this misconception of civic politics is only being enhanced by the current election coverage from The Herald, The Sun and what’s left of the local television networks. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the mailed in notion of a two horse race is not only damaging the potential discussion, but undermining the potential of this city.

The casual voter needs to be better informed of the vast spectrum of candidates. There is without question more to this race than Ric Alderman NO McIver and Barb Higgins. There are extremely viable candidates for mayor in Naheed Nenshi, Kent Hehr, Bob Hawsworth and Joe Connelly, etc., But if you only listen to the snippets and quotes from the traditional media, this glorified two horse is race is all your going to hear about.

From a traditional media outlet standpoint a high profile two horse race, easily sells more papers and T.V. ads than a 13 Horse marathon. Again, we’re back to the notion that municipal politics is just a glorified extension of High School politics.

Luckily for all of us though, there are others who are working to counter act the Traditional Media outlet’s misguided handling of this election.

One only needs to look at the daily discussion evolving on the #yycvote stream on Twitter or even look at the local political blogosphere to see the great discussion that is evolving. Even the Calgary Metro is doing a far better job covering the election than the traditional power houses of the Herald and The Sun. DJ Kelly, a prominent civic activist and blogger has touched upon this issue in his latest column for the Calgary Metro. (After your done shifting through my rant, please go back and read this link. It’s well worth your time).

You Are The Most Important Tool in This Election

While I could go on and on about the battle for information brewing between Traditional and Independent Media factions, I want to talk about the most important factor in this election and that is you.

Yes, you. The one with the coffee stain on your shirt. (Sorry I had to point it out).

You Are The Most Important Cog In this Election

Your opinion and recommendation matters more in this election than anything else. More than bumber stickers, twitter accounts, press releases, billboards and misguided editorial pieces.

Three Degrees of Influence and Connected

In Connected: The Surprising Power of Social Networks and How They Shape our Lives Christakis and Fowler discuss how we are all connected by Three Degrees of personal influence. The gist of the book is that you directly influence and are affected by a sphere of influence which reaches all the way to your Friend’s Friend’s Friend.

In such a hyper-connected world, where we have more interaction with our circle of friends on a daily basis through our daily internet usage than we ever did. It’s almost impossible to ignore the importance of your own personal recommendation.

Vanyerchuck calls it the Thank You Economy, but your opinion and your personal beliefs have more influence on your circle of friends and by proxy their circle of friends than ever. So when you make a stance on a topic or recommend a cool article, it will inevitably have a strong influence on a large group of people. Just look at the speed at which Ceelo’s F**K YOU has become the unofficial hit of the summer as a great example of the power of recommendation.

What Can You Do?

It’s still pretty early in the race and the polls that have been released suggest two things. One name recognition is predominate factor in this election, yet again. Two, at least 40% of voters are still unsure of who to vote for.

So here’s the challenge, if you are passionate about a candidate – whether it’s Barb, Naheed, Joe, Wayne or pretty much anyone else besides Dr. No – make a public declaration of support to that candidate. Especially if that candidate isn’t one of the big two.

It’s far too early in the race to be aligning your vote to combat someone else vote, as many have noted as a reason to vote for Barb. Rather, now is the time to make a declaration for a candidate.

By making a declaration, you will directly influence your group of friends. Who may or may not recognize your opinion, but if another one of their friends makes a similar declaration, they are more likely to take note. Because of which the preconceived perception surrounding the election as a two-horse race will start to shift and some viable discourse will start to happen.

It’s quite easy to turn the tide and one single ripple can start change. And of course that all stars with you.

Categories: The-Calgary-Vibe, The-Blogosphere, The Soapbox


Each candidate demonstrates proficiency at a particular skill.

I would go one step further, CT… Decide what your top 3 issues are and then research each candidate’s position on those respective issues.

Good post. Way to keep your stick on the ice from across the pond.

Paul Hughes

Paul Hughes · Aug 25, 12:07 pm · #permalink

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