Calgary’s mayoral race just added one more.
Teddy Ogbonna has also put his name forward.
Field is president of BRC Group, a company founded in Calgary in 1979 that specializes in commercial vehicle collision repair and refurbishment. That company now has operations across North America.
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The run for mayor culminates after five years of work, Field said. He said people approached him at that time about considering a future run.
“At that time, I declined. The timing wasn’t right,” Field told LiveWire Calgary.
Field inserted himself subtly into the political scene. He showed up at council meetings to take in the process. In this time, one thing stuck out: The city’s not going in the right direction, he said.
“What I found was a general lack of leadership,” Field said.
In 2017, after the last Calgary municipal election, Field said those same calls and emails came to him about putting into motion a plan to run in 2021.
“I jumped at the opportunity,” he said.
Though not Calgary born, Field has spent the better part of five decades in the city. He said his goal is to restore hope and bring back confidence to the city.
“I have this great sense of duty to give back to the City of Calgary,” he said.
“It’s provided me so much both professionally and personally that that I felt it was time to lend my skills in leadership to the City of Calgary.”
Calgary’s top issues
The father of three, who married his high school sweetheart, said obviously COVID-19 and getting through that successfully is a top priority for the city.
Beyond that, Field said a more positive leadership tone needs to be set at Calgary city hall. He feels there’s been a breach of trust with citizens.
“We’ve not only lost trust with the citizens of Calgary, but also trust within the workforce and administration at city hall,” he said.
Then, the economy must be a focus, he said. A business-friendly ecosystem needs to be ushered in so we can regain lost jobs.
“We have to build the environment where people have the have the ability to wake up in the morning and have purpose, have a job to go to,” he said.
From there, it’s on to the budget. Field wants to ensure Calgarians are getting quality services at the best value.
“We need to stop paying $3 for something that costs us $1 he said.
Field said he’s both a property and business taxpayer, so he’s seen the impact from both sides. He said the city must reach a point where the burden is taken off citizens and businesses.
“I think we need to look internally before we start looking at residents and businesses,” he said.
Lightning round: Green Line, Event Centre, residential speeds, police budget
Field is a supporter of both the Green Line (public transit in general) and the Event Centre project. He said both are done deals and what’s critical at this point is that the focus is on delivering the best project for citizens within budget.
As far as speed limit, he said that it’s important to acknowledge speed reduction can save lives. He said the possibility of going to a plebiscite tied to the municipal election ballot is an abdication of council duties.
“I find that we tend to default to plebiscites when we don’t have the leadership to make the decisions or to lead the city in that discussion,” he said.
Field recognized the polarizing nature of ongoing discussions around Calgary Police Service budget reallocation. He said it’s not only important for him, but Calgarians, to see and understand the process.
He said when looking at the budget, every area needs to be examined – Calgary police and fire are no exception. Field said it’s important to be clear with councillors and citizens precisely what’s on the table in terms of cuts, additions or reallocations.
“I think if we have meaningful discussions about either or, there are solutions to put in place,” he said.
Campaign finance, PACs
Field said he believes in an open and transparent process when it comes to campaign donations. He wants the democratic process to be strong. Field said he’d reveal his donor list prior to election day – but he’d like to make sure all candidates are playing by the same rules.
Earlier this year, the province stripped the ability of cities to create and enforce rules around pre-election disclosure.
Field said he doesn’t really know much about the Political Action Committee (PAC) set up. PACs are third-party advertisers that have few rules – except a $30,000 max limit per contributor.
“I hope the voting public is up to the challenge of voting based on the candidate and what they bring to the table,” he said.
Field knows his biggest battle right now is name recognition. That’s one of the reasons for announcing his intentions just less than a year out.
While Jeromy Farkas has already announced, other big names could be in the race come the new year. While both Couns. Jyoti Gondek and Jeff Davision have been cagy about their political plans, many council watchers expect one or both to make a run.
It’s also unclear what current mayor Naheed Nenshi’s plan are for the 2021 election.
“There’s no question I’m coming in as an outsider with limited name recognition,” Field said, though noting work has been ongoing for three years.
Field said he wants to spend as much time as possible continuing to meet Calgarians (safely). He said it won’t necessarily be like past campaigns, due to ongoing public health restrictions. So, it was best to have time.
He said the Oct. 18, 2021 municipal election is going to happen pandemic or not.
“There’s lots of work to do, but we’ll be ready to go,” Field said.