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6 months to go: Transit, development and affordable housing expected to be hot topics in Edmonton election

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WATCH ABOVE: We are officially six months away from the next municipal election. Fifty-two people have filed their notice of intent to become mayor or councillor, and many are wondering which direction the future of our city will take. Julia Wong reports – Apr 16, 2017

Edmonton is now officially six months away from its next municipal election, and one political science professor says she can easily see Mayor Don Iveson keeping his position.

READ MORE: How would you rate Edmonton city council 1 year ahead of municipal election?

Professor Judy Garber said Iveson is popular; he won the last election by a landslide, beating the next closest candidate by more than 90,000 votes.

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“He’s been really good at appealing to lots of different constituencies in Edmonton,” she said, adding he is notably progressive, especially on environmental issues that relate to development issues.

“Development is what it takes to be a big city mayor. He does what a mayor has to do – he’s for development – but at the same time, I don’t think he completely alienated his progressive base.”

Garber says she is keeping a close eye on races such as in Ward 2, where the incumbent is Bev Esslinger.

“She’s going to face some of the same opponents she faced in the last election, and she won with less than 30 per cent of the vote,” she said.

Other races that may also be contentious include Ward 3’s Dave Loken, who won by a slim 501 votes in 2013, and Ward 5’s Michael Oshry, who won by 628 votes in the last election.

READ MORE: Edmonton residents approve of Mayor Iveson, but not city council: poll

Garber said she is interested to see what happens in Ward 9; Bryan Anderson, who has sat on council for nearly 20 years, will not be re-offering.

“That’s going to be hugely contested. That’s a wealthy area. That’s a high voter turnout area,” she said.

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READ MORE: Edmonton city councillor proposes stricter rules for future council candidates

Janet Ho, president of the Greater Windermere Community League, said Anderson was a strong advocate for the community.

“It’s been a really good relationship, very close. Whenever we have any issues and we email him, he’s very responsive to us,” she said.

It may be hard to fill the shoes of the six-term councillor; Ho said schools, green space and community centres are just some of the priorities for the community league. Transit is also another hot-button issue.

“Most people here tend to drive because there’s only one bus. [And] With driving… there are very few exits. There’s the Terwillegar exit, the one on Rabbit Hill and the one on Ellerslie. When there’s an accident on any of them, it takes a really, really long time to commute out of the area,” Ho said.

The McLeod Community League said it has heard from several interested potential candidates; long-serving Coun. Ed Gibbons has not announced whether he will run again.

Community League president Leanne Rosinski said residents are concerned about city programming and community safety, adding those will be the issues that the next councillor will have to tackle.

“Because we have the [Anthony] Henday now… we have a lot of shortcuts through our neighbourhood and we’re a little concerned as to the speed limit,” she said.
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An influx of new, multicultural residents is also an issue the league wants the city to help with.

“We’ve seen a lot of newcomers come into our areas and it’s been fantastic. But we would like more connections with the city in terms of how we, as a community league, can help serve that group,” Rosinski said.

Garber expects transit, downtown development and affordable housing to be hot topics in this upcoming election.

RELATED: Everything you need to know about Edmonton’s 2017 municipal election

Fifty-two people have submitted their notice of intent to become the next mayor or councillor. Voters head to the polls October 16.

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