Recovery and rebuilding take centre stage as Calgary mayoral hopefuls square off

Mayoral candidates on stage during a live debate on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. (OMAR SHERIF / LIVEWIRE CALGARY.)

Calgary’s mayoral candidates made one thing clear when they faced off during a live debate on Wednesday evening. (Sept. 2)

The city needs a change.

That might be the reason there are now 28 candidates vying for the city’s top job. During the debate, there were only eight out of the 28 hopefuls there.

Virginia Stone, Zane Novak, Teddy Ogbonna, Grace Yan, Jan Damery, Shaoli Wang, Jeff Davison, and Dean Hopkins all took turns to answer questions relating to education, healthcare, arts and culture, immigration, housing and infrastructure, and transportation.

And despite their vastly different approaches and platforms, they all made one thing clear.

Calgary needs to recover economically, rebuild financially, and sustain its future.

Mayoral candidate Teddy Ogbonna during a live debate on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. (OMAR SHERIF / LIVEWIRE CALGARY.)

According to the candidates, that won’t happen with the way things are going.

“I do not see that the path this city’s going in is going to be sustainable,” said Teddy Ogbonna.

“We need someone who’s going to speak up and maintain the classic city that we have.”

Virginia Stone added that our focus needs to shift towards that for the future of Calgary.

“At this point we must modernize, we must move into the future, we must focus on sustainable innovation,” she said.

“We must focus on greening our city.”

In doing this, Stone and the other candidates belive the city can be a global hub where people from all walks of life will be proud to call home.

But to do so, they said the next mayor and council must work with stakeholders and other levels of government to bring Calgary back to what it once was.

Strong leadership and a collaborative effort

The candidates all made it clear that the city can’t bounce back alone.

In order for Calgary to move forward, it’ll take a collaborative effort.

“We need to work with our provincial governments and stakeholders here as taxpayers in Calgary, to build a new future where we are once again that beacon of hope,” said Zane Novak.

“Where we attract people here instead of losing people.”

Speaking on issues such as education and healthcare, some candidates had individual platforms, while others said that the city’s job is to work with the province.

“This is really why provincial partnerships are really important because at the end of the day, opportunity matters for everyone,” said Jeff Davison.

“We need to get back to looking at how we can put memorandums of understanding back in place with the various school boards that allow us to create mixed-use communities that have different types of housing models, which allow us to incorporate livability and accessibility into these communities.”

Mayoral candidate Jeff Davison during a live debate on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. (OMAR SHERIF / LIVEWIRE CALGARY.)

A clearer decision

In a crowded field of candidates, many Calgarians have had a hard time narrowing down their choice.

But attending the debate has made it easier for some.

“I think it’s easy to cut a bunch of them, and then shortlisted, and then make a decision from the shortlist,” said Calgarian Lisa Murphy Lamb.

And while she did not think there was a clear winner, some did stand out.

Mayoral candidate Jan Damery during a live debate on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. (OMAR SHERIF / LIVEWIRE CALGARY.)

“There were a couple that spoke well and clearly understood the questions and the issues that were going on, they were clearly prepared,” she said, referring to Davison and Damery.

However, Murphy Lamb is concerned about a gap that might not be filled come election day.

“I’m afraid of getting the next mayor who doesn’t value doesn’t value a warm and welcoming city and vibrant art scene, and it does worry me,” she said.

“A city that people can get around, where we’re working on making it a more inclusive city that celebrates diversity, that’s the kind of city I want.”

Another debate is set to take place Thursday, Sept. 9 which will feature other mayoral candidates including Brad Field, Jyoti Gondek, Jeff Davison, Zane Novak, and Grace Yan.

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