The day after a second Calgary city councillor announced her bid to run for mayor, Mayor Naheed Nenshi shared his thoughts on current councillors looking to take his chair in council chambers.
Nenshi said he’s grateful for anyone who seeks to serve in office to put their name forward, given the impact on the candidate’s life and family.
“Thanks for coming forward and thanks for giving Calgarians a good choice,” Nenshi said Thursday. “That’s not an easy thing to do.”
But Nenshi advised anyone who wants to serve as mayor needs to be able to communicate their identity, their connection and their vision for the city.
“We’re in tough times, so what is your idea? What is your vision? What is your platform for how we’re going to help Calgarians not just get out of this pandemic, but come back stronger and better? How are we going to build a place where people want to come?”
Nenshi pointed to a recent Statistics Canada report showing Calgary tied for third in a list of fastest-growing census metropolitan areas between July 1, 2019 and July 1, 2020. The three-term mayor attributed quality of life and potential for improvement as reasons for that high ranking.
Nenshi also worried that the upcoming municipal election will devolve into a discussion of how bad things are in Calgary.
“Things are not awful here. We are extremely lucky to live here. And I think the opportunity for any candidate is to ask, ‘How are you going to build on that? How are you going to make things even better?’”
Nenshi said as a voter he’s interested in hearing those lines of discussion, but hasn’t yet.
The mayor, who hasn’t yet announced his decision on whether or not he will seek a fourth term, said there’s still time for those visions to be communicated.
“I really encourage all citizens to look at everybody, including me if I’m on the ballot, and say, ‘Does this person really stand for the kind of Calgary I want?”
The mayor also responded to early candidates promising to “run the city like a business,” saying the economy is made up of three sectors: the public, the private and the non-profit.
“There are certainly best practices that you can gain from each of those sectors to help you do a better job in the other,” the former economics professor and executive consultant said. “But it would be very foolish to say let’s run the city like a business because it’s not a business.”
“Ultimately, you have to be driven by the mission of the city to make life better for everyone, every day, in order to be able to run the place.
“So, yeah, you need to have low cost. You need to have great budgets. You need to have low taxes. And we’ve got all of those things. But ultimately, you have to be driven by your mission and not by shareholder value as businesses are.”
At the start of his press availability Thursday afternoon, Nenshi said he had not decided on his future past October.
Calgarians cast their ballots on Oct. 18.