Aspiring civic politicians should mark October 2010 on their calendars.
While it’s less than a year and a half until the next municipal election, city hall tire kickers are beginning to surface and political watchers are contemplating what will likely be a council with a decidedly different look.
While the 15 men and women who steer the city are predictably cagey about their futures beyond the current term, most observers believe anywhere between two and five seats could be vacant next October and in need of new blood.
Ward 12 Ald. Ric McIver has been consistently opaque over speculation that he’s gunning for the top job in 2010, but the smart money has him challenging Mayor Dave Bronconnier, leaving his southeast riding vacant.
Ald. Diane Colley-Urquhart this week filed her nomination papers for the now open provincial Tory seat in Calgary-Glenmore, setting up a byelection likely next fall, leaving Ward 13 a certainty for a new face.
Council’s two elder statesmen, Gord Lowe and Dale Hodges, both say they have no plans to walk away from their jobs despite the fact they will be 71 and 69 years old, respectively, next fall, but retirement is always a possibility.
And, finally, Ald. Andre Chabot, who this week won a major reprieve for his political future when council agreed to back his rejigged ward boundary map. But he may still face a challenge when it comes for final approval in June, with some aldermen saying they will push for a return to the original plan. That would bump Chabot’s riding from the east side to the north and he has already said if that happens, he will likely run against Ald. Joe Ceci in Ward 9.
Throw in the fact that three incumbents were ousted in a rare show of dissatisfaction with the status quo in 2007, and Calgary has the potential to see a very different group sitting around the council chamber in the next go round.
Meanwhile, city hall insiders say they haven’t seen as much interest in a decade from aldermanic hopefuls testing the waters and asking advice, which could make 2010 a landmark year for public engagement.
Former alderman and Conservative MLA Brian Lee is said to be mulling a run for the mayor’s chair, as well as another stab likely by millionaire Alnoor Kassam, joining McIver in a crowded field
Out in the wards, controversial Conservative activist Craig Chandler, former police union boss Al Koenig, Calgary restaurateur Al Browne and former alderman Barry Erskine are names that frequently pop up.
So much for Calgary’s supposed political apathy.