With a little over a year to go before Calgary’s municipal election, the city already has its first mayoral candidate – Jeromy Farkas.
Elected to council in 2017, the first-time councillor announced his intention to run in a video that was posted to his Facebook page.
Throughout the video, Farkas lists some of his ideas and previous actions within council. He said those “put me on a collision course with an out of touch establishment that in so many ways has put its interests ahead of yours.”
At the time of his first election, Farkas was 31, making him the youngest city official elected within the current council. As a person who identifies as bisexual, he is also the first openly LGBTQ2S+ councillor in the city’s history.
His announcement for his bid comes over a year before election day, which is Oct. 18, 2021. According to an expert, it’s strange for a candidate to announce this early on.
“It is unusual,” said Lori Williams, a political science professor at Mount Royal University.
“Typically people don’t announce they’re running for mayor, particularly somebody like Mr. Farkas, who has a seat [in council].”
Williams added that Farkas may have had a better chance at winning or keeping his council seat than running for mayor, something she believes he is aware of due to his current record on council.
Coun. Farkas has often been at odds with fellow city councillors. He’s frequently been accused of a lack of preparation when presenting motions in an attempt to seek media headlines.
In Dec. 2018, Farkas was ejected from a city council meeting over a Facebook post where he made a claim that his colleagues were going to see a salary increase. He has also spoken out several times against the city’s closed door sessions.
“That voting record is going to appeal to conservatives,” said Duane Bratt, a professor of political science and economics at Mount Royal University.
“It’s something he [Farkas] plans on running on.”
There is a large segment of the population that this will appeal to, said Bratt.
But the question is, will it appeal enough?
While Farkas is a first-time councillor, some say him being on the losing side of votes could play in his favour.
“He could argue that he’s the principled person,” said Bratt.
“He’s the one fighting to control spending and to reduce your taxes.”
But his lack of experience won’t be an afterthought.
According to Williams, Farkas’ limited experience, combined with his record in office, will hurt his chances at winning the mayor’s seat.
“He hasn’t shown that he’s capable of working with other councillors,” said Williams.
“Yes, he has some experience but generally speaking, people who are running for mayor have either a lot of strong private sector experience or a lot of council experience.”
“And he’s lacking in those in those areas.”
Farkas said he’s asking citizens to think hard about the choice that they have to make in the upcoming election, saying that he wants to bring honesty back to city hall.
“We want honest leadership that helps families and entrepreneurs peruse the very best opportunity our city has to offer,” said Farkas, in his campaign video posted to Facebook.
“I’m asking you to think about what Calgary could be if there was new leadership, new ideas and new opportunity.”
Calgary’s current Mayor, Naheed Nenshi, has yet to announce whether he’ll be running in 2021.
Based on a “political reality” Williams doesn’t think that Nenshi will remain in office after next year’s election.
“Politicians generally have a difficult time winning again after about that 10 year mark,” she said.
“Simply because the accumulation of things in their record that people don’t like is so great that they’re looking for other options or alternatives at that point.”
She believes that Farkas took that into account before his announcement.
Farkas’ bid for mayor means there’s likely an open spot in Ward 11 on the upcoming city council.