A makeover may be in order for city council if Dan McLean has anything to say about it.
The Ward 13 resident has thrown his hat in the ring for city council, and said it’s time to see a significant change in how the municipal government operates.
“From what I’ve seen at City Hall over the last few cycles, a lot of what goes on happens behind closed doors, and I’d like to know what that is,” said McLean.
For the last 20 years, McLean focused on running his business and caring for his family in Calgary, while slowly becoming more involved in public service.
After working on a number of different political campaigns over the years, including that of third-runner up Leslyn Lewis for the 2020 Conservative party of Canada leadership, McLean is ready to have his own voice heard.
“When you work with different people at different levels, you wonder where you can be most effective,” McLean said.
“I look at municipal politics; it’s my own backyard, it’s where I’ve lived, and I believe consensus is key.”
Leave the door open, City Hall
The University of Alberta alum feels that many of the issues affecting his ward, and the city overall, boil down to a lack of transparency within City Hall.
“I go down there on Monday mornings, and who knows if they’re being pushed around or strong-armed off camera, so I want to see more business being conducted out in the open,” said McLean.
He believes the lack of public transparency supports an imbalanced pay structure in favour of city council members, particularly when it comes to pensions and the infamous “golden handshake,” – a financial severance package for city hall members leaving their positions.
“They can work for six years and get a pension. Most employers don’t offer a big payout if you decide to go work for someone else.”
McLean said an organizational review of City Hall needs to take place, exploring the possibility of wage freezes, hiring freezes, and term limits.
“I’m not going to pretend I know everything. I’ll defer to experts that know how to look at this kind of thing because I think everybody should play to their strengths,” said McLean.
“But this city is hurting, and there’s savings in City Hall.”
McLean grew up on a farm near Camrose, just outside of Edmonton, and eventually went on to open his business, McLean Golf, with three locations in Alberta and BC.
Since selling his business in 2017, McLean has focused his business-oriented lens towards local government.
“A city is just a big corporation. It’s about providing a service in the most cost-effective and efficient manner,” he said.
While McLean has worked with a number of Conservative groups in the past, he doesn’t exclusively identify as such, and prefers ideas over beliefs.
“I would say that I’m fiscally Conservative, but on social issues I’m quite Liberal, and the city doesn’t really have any mandate over social issues,” said McLean.
“The government doesn’t belong in people’s bedrooms in the first place.”
The enemy of my enemy
Many of McLean’s core directives align with those of the controversial advocacy group, Take Back City Hall, who’s mandates call for for less government interference, more accountability, and lower taxes.
Take Back City Hall’s recruitment initiative served as a catalyst for McLean to run for city council. McLean holds firm that he’s running an individual campaign, and he’s not directly affiliated with, or influenced by, any one group, party, or person.
“I was always very clear that come January 4, when all the paperwork was submitted, that Dan McLean would be running for Ward 13 under the Dan McLean for Ward 13 banner,” said McLean.
An amendment to local election rules was passed by Alberta’s UCP government last year which extended the nomination window, giving candidates nine months instead of four weeks to file their paperwork.
However, due to the pandemic, only eight nomination appointments are available each day.
“If you’re serious about running, you have to campaign hard and early, and you can’t officially canvass until you get the paperwork in,” said McLean.
By piggybacking onto Take Back City Hall’s survey flyer campaign, McLean was able to meet more than 40,000 constituents in his ward and hear their concerns first-hand.
“I don’t agree with all of Take Back City Hall’s opinions, but they were recruiting like-minded people with business backgrounds, and that I do agree with.”
McLean said setting term limits for council members is long overdue, and that the current city council roster, including the mayor, are well past their best-before date.
“We need to determine a new energy,” he said.
While McLean said he would graciously step down from office after one or two terms, he would continue to serve in other capacities, if the right opportunity arose.
“If something came along, say they offered to make the ambassador of Hawaii, then yes, I would take that position,” he said.