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Calgary’s race for mayor heats up in January with Coun. Jyoti Gondek entering race

Click to play video 'Nenshi quiet on mayoral future as another councillor announces run' Nenshi quiet on mayoral future as another councillor announces run
WATCH: It is an election year for Calgary, and the race for the top job is starting to heat up. Adam MacVicar takes a look at who has said they’re running and who has not. – Jan 13, 2021

Calgary’s mayoral race is heating up, with nine hopefuls having announced their campaigns, including another Calgary city councillor.

Ward 3 Coun. Jyoti Gondek announced her intent to run on Wednesday afternoon. She said she wants to continue the work she’s done on council to improve how the city works.

“When I came in in 2017 as an outsider who was very critical of the way some decisions were being made… I was frustrated that we weren’t doing things differently,” Gondek told Global News. “Now that I’ve been on council for three years, I can tell you it’s some of the systems that we have in place and some of the processes that hold us back.”

Read more: ‘Hypocrisy’: Calgary councillors react to provincial, municipal travel controversies

Gondek said the next term for city council will be “critical” to remove barriers that council has begun.

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The councillor said she took some time to reflect on the “incredible privilege” to represent Ward 3 in her first term, and some of the successes in that time.

“Those successes have come from me asking some pretty basic but critical questions.”

Gondek said she views every Calgarian as an investor in the city and the decision to reside here deserves “a return on that” decision.

“I think it’s absolutely appropriate that Calgarians deserve complete communities,” Gondek told Global News. “You deserve strong transit and mobility networks, you deserve a good place to live, you deserve to have schools in your community. And I think the one thing that the pandemic has taught us is when any one of us falls into a position of vulnerability, you deserve to know that your city will help you get back up again. 

“Those are the things I thought about when I made this decision.”

Gondek chairs the city’s standing policy committee on planning and urban development and is the vice-chair of the city’s Green Line committee. She also holds other positions on boards, commissions and committees. Until October 2020, she served on the Calgary Police Commission.

Gondek was elected as the Ward 3 representative in 2017, getting 42 per cent of the vote.

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Before joining city council, Gondek was an adjunct professor at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business.

Read more: Staff member for Calgary Councillor Farkas travelled during holidays

Wednesday morning, Zane Novak announced his campaign from outside the Max Bell Centre.

“What sets me apart is my engagement to both the business community and the non-profit world, the social sector. I see how those two sectors need to meet together, marry together and support each other,” Novak said.

“If you do not have a prosperous, vibrant city, you cannot sustain the necessary social programs that we need.”

The former president of the Kerby Centre from 2016 to 2020, Novak is the CEO of ZKO Oilfield Industries and moved to Calgary from the Edmonton area in 2001.

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Calgary’s Green Line LRT talks derailed until municipal election: sources – Dec 8, 2020

Novak thinks his connections in the non-profit sector can help him as mayor in improving the city.

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“My single best talent is getting people with diverse ideas, diverse goals and diverse outcomes at the same table together and coming to a common rationale to move the whole needle or dial forward, which is what we need as Calgarians,” Novak said.

Read more: Nominations open for upcoming Calgary municipal election

Novak isn’t the only local businessman who hopes to be Calgary’s next mayor.

Brad Field announced his mayoral campaign on Nov. 18, 2020.

Monday with Danielle Smith on Global News Radio 770 CHQR, Field said he was a “go-big-or-go-home type of personality” and claimed Calgary “has a complete void in leadership right now.”

“And that’s where I’m well-suited — bringing that collaborative leadership to the table,” the president of BRC Group told Danielle Smith. “I think I’m best suited in the mayor’s chair where I can collaborate and bring people together.”

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Field said his international experience in business has helped him with that collaborative approach.

Read more: Calgary Councillor Jeromy Farkas to run for mayor in 2021 election

“I’ve done business in the U.S., in the Middle East,” Field said. “I’ve been in multiple sectors, from health care to fire suppression to heavy equipment repair and refurbishment to consulting. So I’ve had a wide variety of experiences.”

Field told Smith he would have a different approach from the current mayor.

“What I would do differently is bring that collaboration, bring those ends of the spectrum together,” Field said. “I love talking to and listening to different points of view, because I truly believe when you bring the ends together and you meet in the middle, that’s where the magic happens.”

No news from Nenshi

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi has not revealed whether he intends to run for a fourth term. Wednesday, the mayor’s office said he was not available for comment.

Click to play video '2020: A year in review with Mayor Nenshi' 2020: A year in review with Mayor Nenshi
2020: A year in review with Mayor Nenshi – Dec 31, 2020

Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt said the mayor has a name-recognition advantage as the incumbent and can delay his announcement as a result.

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“But there are downsides to (Nenshi) saying, ‘I’m not going to run’ because that could weaken his maneuverability around city council,” Bratt said.

“I wouldn’t expect a decision from Nenshi until much later in the process. Challengers, on the other hand, have to get open.”

Nenshi’s former campaign manager Zain Velji said Farkas and Gondek entering the mayoral race showed the “appetite for councillors seeing a lane.”

“If you’re a smart politico right now running one of these campaigns, you’re looking at the raw numbers game,” Velji said on The Drive on Global News Radio 770 CHQR. “You’re saying, ‘How many candidates are we projecting in the race and what’s the total number of votes to win?’ And they’re just working to reverse engineer that level of support.”

The mayor recently said he did not want to drag out his decision-making process much longer, out of respect for others who are planning to run for mayor.

Read more: ‘Hypocrisy’: Calgary councillors react to provincial, municipal travel controversies

“I wish I had had more time over the break to really ask myself some very tough personal questions,” Nenshi said on Jan. 5. “I think that a lot of my decision, again, as I’ve said before, is really based not just on what’s right for me, but also on where the community is as a whole.”

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Nine people have announced their campaigns for the mayor’s chair, with most announcing their plans on social media. Only Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas and Brad Field had filed their nomination papers with Elections Calgary as of Wednesday. Gondek said she plans on filing her nomination papers early next week.

Calgary’s municipal election is scheduled for Oct. 18.

–with files from Adam MacVicar, Global News