Edmonton – Karen Leibovici didn’t hold back during her fundraising breakfast Thursday morning.
“Voters can choose a mayor that will move us backwards, shrinking our vision to just potholes and pessimism, or voters can choose a mayor that will steer us off-course with big plans, big spending and big vision but no funding attached.”
“I made a decision to run for mayor because as an Edmontonian I was not willing to risk my city, your city, in the hands of someone who has no experience to move us forward and no track record of accomplishments.”
With less than three weeks before Edmontonians head to the polls, it’s a critical point in the mayoral campaign. On Thursday, Leibovici attempted to hammer home why she’s the best person for the job.
“When I take over the mayor’s chair on October 22, you know you have someone that has a track record for leadership and getting things done and plans that we’ve been outlining throughout this campaign.”
Leibovici’s campaign promises include: putting a plan in place to fix Edmonton’s pothole situation, growing the city’s arts and culture, and working with the provincial and federal governments to get Edmonton its share to build infrastructure and complete the LRT.
During her speech, Leibovici explained the most important issue Edmontonians will face over the next four years is a change to the Municipal Government Act (MGA).
The MGA is one of Alberta’s largest pieces of legislation. It provides the foundation for how municipalities operate, how municipal councils function, and how citizens can work with their municipalities.
The act contains three major areas of focus: governance, planning and development, and assessment and taxation.
Municipalities across the province will push for change in the legislation.
Leibovici believes a new Urban Agenda in the act is of critical importance for Edmonton.
“It is not a one size solution. Edmonton and Calgary have very different regional realities, and any charter for Edmonton would have to be unique for us,” said the mayoral candidate. “While I know Mayor Nenshi – and he and I get along – he will be looking after Calgary’s interests. We need a mayor that will speak up and stand up for Edmonton’s interests.”
Changes to the MGA will likely take years to come to fruition. In the meantime, Leibovici is calling on the province to make changes to the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI), which provides funding for municipal infrastructure projects.
Leibovici says the current MSI formula penalizes Edmonton.
“What we need is a more permanent MSI fund as well as recognizing that’s it’s not just the formula that currently exists, but we need to revisit the formula” said Leibovici. “The formula needs to take into account the age of the infrastructure as well as our role in maintaining the region and in economic development.”
Leibovici claims the province places a higher value on residents outside of Edmonton within the Capital Region than residents in the capital city.
“We need our fair share. At this point, regional municipalities are getting – and for an example – Strathcona County, $50 more per person than Edmonton.”
One of her opponents, Don Iveson agrees, in part, but says the city needs to negotiate with the region to level the playing field.
“What we need to move to is real revenue sharing from the provincial government, something that’s ongoing, open ended and secure for cities.”
Kerry Diotte declined to comment on the issue.
Iveson also agrees with Leibovici that changes are needed in the MGA.
“Really what we need is a city charter with special legislation for Alberta’s large cities just like other jurisdictions across the country have, and that’s been slow moving, but as mayor, I want to get the city charter conversation moving again quickly,” says Iveson.
The mayoral candidates will meet two more times in city-sponsored forums: Monday, October 7th at the Shaw Conference Centre and Thursday, October 10th at the Italian Cultural Centre.