The high profile city council vote to pursue a new events centre in Calgary that will replace the Scotiabank Saddledome could have implications in the city’s next mayoral race, according to a political science professor.
On Tuesday, council voted 11-4 in favour of approving an agreement to build the project, which will eventually be the new home of the Calgary Flames.
Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University, said he believes a number of councillors plan to run for mayor in 2021 and will try to use the vote to their advantage.
“You can see councillors using this arena deal, either pro or con, to position themselves for that race,” Bratt said during an interview Tuesday on Global News Hour at 6.
Bratt specifically pointed out Ward 6 Coun. Jeff Davison and Ward 3 Coun. Jyoti Gondek as two members who voted in favour of the deal and may have aspirations to run for mayor in the future.
“Jeff Davison, who chaired the committee that led the negotiations, who was the point man in the press conference, he is going to take this and say, ‘I helped to do this,’” Bratt said.
A recent survey conducted by ThinkHQ found that 35 per cent of Calgary residents approve of the job Mayor Naheed Nenshi has done since the last civic election, while 59 per cent disapprove. Bratt said he does not expect Nenshi to run again for mayor because of a “rocky third term” and a “tough re-election” in 2017.
Of the councillors who voted against the deal, Bratt said Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas could use the issue to his advantage in the 2021 race if there turns out to be economic problems with the arena deal.
“It depends if there are no economic surprises with the project, no sort of side deals, or cost overruns or other little spats that occur,” Bratt said about the potential for the arena vote to be an issue in the next mayor’s race.
“There was a lot of opposition when the [Calgary central library] was being developed, there was a lot of opposition around the Peace Bridge and then that all disappeared once [people] saw it.”
Calgary’s next civic election is expected to take place in October 2021.
The survey was conducted between July 26 and 26, 2019 via an online research panel using several sources. Think HQ surveyed 645 respondents and weighted the results to reflect gender, age and the region of Calgary population. The margin of error is +/- 3.9 percentage points or 19 times out of 20.