Chibunna Theodore (Teddy) Ogbonna wants to use his diverse international experience and tax policies to bring change to city hall.
The Nigerian-born Calgarian declared his intent to run for mayor in October, saying that now is the time for the city to see a different municipal government.
“I do believe we need a change at city hall,” said Ogbonna.
“We need to change the way things work at the City of Calgary, and I do believe we need a stronger, fresh voice.”
Orphaned at seven years old, Ogbonna finished his education in Nigeria and went on to work across the not-for-profit sector.
He’s worked with organizations such as UNICEF, the UNDP, the World Bank, and several governments across the world.
This, along with other experiences in working with Canadian politicians including Adam Giambrone, set him on a path to advocacy and eventually launching Youth for Transparency International, an organization that works to empower emerging leaders for positive development.
His youth leadership focused mentality is something he hopes will resonate with others in Calgary.
Ogbonna said that city hall needs an overhaul.
He wants to change the way that council works and make it more of an innovative and forward thinking institute.
“I’ve attended the combined meetings of council every month since I’ve been in Calgary,” said Ogbonna.
“My idea is that the whole council should go.”
His idea of leadership is that those who have spent a long time in office should mentor the youth and help them develop an interest in politics, which would then create fair representation and positive change.
Ogbonna remembers speaking to some younger relatives of retired Coun. Ray Jones and telling them that Jones should be training them to becoming political leaders.
“I told them ‘he should consult you guys, mentor you guys and get you to participate in politics,'” he said.
“That’s the way I see leadership”
Ogbonna said that Calgarians deserve honest leadership. They deserve someone who says things how they are, and is true to themselves.
“I think Calgarians need someone who is real,” said Ogbonna.
“They don’t need anyone to pretend.”
He said that he wants to be taken for who he is and will not let things such as ethnicity define him or his campaign.
“I don’t want to defined because I’m Black, I don’t want to be given money because I’m Black, I don’t wanted to be treated special because I’m Black,” said Ogbonna.
“The values that we need to keep here, are not about repeatedly changing things. we need to offer more viable, more sustainable ideas for the city.”
Restoring ‘the hub’ of the Canadian economy
Tax cuts and tax policy are top of mind for Ogbonna’s campaign. He said that the city is spending too much money on things that should not be a priority.
Councilors’ pension packages and salaries are too high for the current economic climate, he said. The city needs to shift its focus on where money is being spent.
He wants to change the way city council works by dissolving some of the boards and committees, as well as reducing the number of councillors and investing that money into the local economy.
“I believe that small local businesses are the engine. They are the bedrock of growth,” said Ogbonna.
By doing that, Ogbonna says that Calgary and Calgarians can go back to a time when things were better for the city.
“This city (Calgary) has always been the hub of Canadian economy,” said Ogbonna.
“This city has always helped shift the Canadian economy.”