A third Calgary councillor is throwing his hat in the ring to be the city’s next mayor.
Ward 6 Coun. Jeff Davison made the announcement Wednesday afternoon.
“I fully intended to move forward on Calgary’s recovery as the councillor for Ward 6, but here’s the thing: our recovery is not guaranteed,” Davison said. “And I have spent four years putting together strategies to move this city forward, to look at growth, to look at opportunity.”
First elected to council in 2017, Davison had a hand in negotiations for the event centre deal, , expansions of the BMO Centre and Arts Commons, and pitched his fellow councillors on work that would eventually be a part of the Greater Downtown Plan to revitalize the city’s core that has seen more than $16 billion in lost property value.
He said the post-pandemic recovery and everyday finances is front of mind for Calgarians he’s spoken with.
“And at the same time, I think it’s really about looking forward to ask how do we accelerate investment in our city, working with provincial partnerships, working with federal partnerships and working with the private sector to advance investment in Calgary.”
Davison joins Ward 3 Coun. Jyoti Gondek and Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas as councillors hoping to sit in the mayor’s chair come October.
In early April, Mayor Naheed Nenshi announced he will not be seeking a fourth term in office. Wednesday, Nenshi said he’s not endorsing anyone, but will be calling out misinformation.
Following Davison’s upcoming filing of nomination papers this week, 15 mayoral candidates will be registered with Elections Calgary, with more expected to join the race in the next four months.
According to Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt, more choices will benefit Calgarians overall.
However, he believes the number of candidates and referendum questions could create some complications in this year’s vote.
“It’s also going to be complicated by other factors that we’ve talked about, such as the federal equalization program referendum, Senate elections, the possibility that there could be a federal election right around the time of a municipal race,” Bratt told Global News.
“It could also mean that you can become mayor with 20 per cent of the of the vote.”
Davison acknowledged things like a track record will help build trust with voters as they look to elect the next council and stressed the need for mayors to work collaboratively in order to serve their city.
“Our success is not guaranteed and without collaborative leadership who have vision — and not just have the vision, the ability to execute that vision — I’m worried about our city,” he said. “And so at a point where we’re in a turnaround cycle and upon our biggest comeback ever, that leadership style is key.”
Davison sits on a number of the city’s boards and committees: he chairs the transportation and transit committee and vice-chairs the business advisory committee. He sits on the utilities and corporate services, audit, priorities and finance, Green Line and nominations committees.
And he’s on the boards of Calgary Economic Development, the Calgary Film Centre, the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation and the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund.
Nenshi urged Calgarians to pay attention to ward races, as well.
“We’re going to have a larger generational change on city council after this election than I’ve ever seen in all my years of watching council, so it really matters that you are thoughtful about your council choices,” the mayor said.
With Davison entering the mayoral race, more than half of the seats at the city hall horseshoe will not have incumbents running.
In addition to having a new mayor, Wards 3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12 will have new councillors.
Only Ward 2 Coun. Joe Magliocca has not announced his intention for October’s election.
Ultimately, Bratt said that candidates who haven’t been on council may have a harder time separating themselves from the pack.
“The benefit that the three councillors have is name recognition,” Bratt said.
“Are people willing to do that sort of research? Are they going to go to their websites? Are they going to follow various forums? Or are they just going to look at the people that they know?”
On Tuesday, Lana Bentley announced her campaign to run as representative for Ward 6 on council. Once her nomination papers are filed, she would join Sanjeev Kad as candidates hoping to replace Davison for the west Calgary ward.
“I think right now it’s fair to say that we are in a moment of real creation,” Nenshi added. “Things look dark and grim right now, but we’re going to get through it, and hopefully the news council and mayor will have the opportunity to create a new kind of future for Calgary. So make sure you’re pushing candidates hard.”
Candidates have until Sept. 20 to file their nomination papers and nominations can be withdrawn as late as the next day, Sept. 21. Street signs are allowed on the sides of roads after nominations close.
Calgarians cast their vote on Oct. 18.