Edmonton city councillor proposes stricter rules for future council candidates

Edmonton city council on Jan. 23, 2017. Global News

An Edmonton city councillor is pushing for quality over quantity when it comes to future civic elections — if his proposed changes are adopted, it would make it much more difficult to run for office.

Councillor Michael Oshry not talking about this coming election in October, but the one after that in 2021. He said it would be unfair to set the bar higher to the people who are considering being candidates this time around.

Currently to run for city council you need 25 signatures, and $100. He’d like to see that upped to 100 signatures and $1,000.

“I’m not talking about ridiculously high efforts, but if you can’t raise $1,000 and you can’t get 100 people to think you’d be a good candidate, I think there’d be some questions there,” he said after putting a motion forward to get feedback later this year.

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“It will take out a few of the candidates that sort of run every time just to put their name out there, and they’d get 10 or 20 votes. So I think it’ll help the people that are ultimately voting to make their decision for the viable candidates a bit easier.”

There were 32 candidates in ward 12 when Moe Banga won to replace the seat vacated by Amarjeet Sohi.

“Whenever we have an open city council seat, we’re now going to have 30 or more candidates, and it’s very confusing for the electorate and it makes for non-functional debates, that sort of thing,” Oshry said.

“There’s many people that run with good intentions but end up garnering tens of votes when they would need thousands of votes to win.”

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“Maybe give some people sober second thoughts before they decide to put their name in the hat and you end up with maybe fewer candidates but the candidates that would be running would be more serious.”

There is strong speculation that Ed Gibbons won’t run this October. He’ll make his announcement in mid-April. But even those rumours that he won’t seek re-election has prompted 15 individuals to meet with him to get a feel for what running in northeast Edmonton would be like.

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“Not all of them come from my end of town, but they’re looking at an empty seat,” Gibbons said. “They want to ask about an empty seat and it’s a new millennium that wants to, you know, it seems we’re a younger community than we used to be.”

Gibbons agrees with the higher threshold in seeking a nomination.

“I think the dollars and cents can be a heck of a lot higher instead of the number of people.”

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He knows what it’s like to run in a 15 candidate race. His first go-around seeking a seat on city council was in 1989 in a 15 candidate field. Gibbons came in third, in the days where the top two were elected.

In ward nine it’s expected Bryan Anderson won’t seek re-election. He’s had six potential candidates reach out to him about running in the ward who have registered, and he’s talked to several others.

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Edmontonians will head to the polls Oct. 16, 2017.

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