Monday, September 27, 2010

Mayoral Candidate: Stephen Mandel

I wanted to maintain a cold, calculating view of the whole election, especially when it came to the incumbent candidate, Mr. Stephen Mandel, but after being battered by horrible spelling and grammar from previous candidates, my little heart melted when I stumbled upon a forum attended by Mayor Mandel where his opening speech was concise and correct. Nevertheless, I shall not be unduly moved by nice writing. My heart is stone; I strike it, it hurts my hand. (Oop. He missed an apostrophe "s", back to business as usual.)

To combat the volume of information that is available for Mr. Mandel, I'm going to focus on two different aspects, and divide them as such; his platform and his history as mayor.

The history:
Back in 2007 when he last defended his seat, there was only a 27% turnout, and many have attributed this to the idea that the population supported Mandel and felt there was little or no need to defend him. His chief opponent, it should be noted, was Don Koziak who was convinced not to run this year, and has put his support behind David Dowling, who is regarded to be the closest contender. Although 2007 was not a close year,  Koziak taking 25% to Mandel's 65%, the recent fervor over the "A"s (airport and arena) could bring more people to the polls.
Mandel has a laundry list of things that he's taking credit for achieving over his terms as mayor, including: LRT expansions, bridge widening, four new rec centers, 50% snow clearing budget, downtown clean-up and safety initiatives, 10% increase in neighbourhood revitalization funding, the new gasification facility, and 200 new police officers hired. Perhaps we should have examined Mandel first, because I don't believe there is even one issue that another candidate is bringing up that is not addressed here. I was really hoping to find some of his previous campaign platforms to see if he's followed through on promises but they seem to be well-hidden.

His platform:
In response to his biggest opponent's plan to provide senior's rebates, Mayor Mandel has stated his priority is looking into building 1000 new houses in Edmonton, since homelessness is a high priority for Edmonton (most candidates do mention it) and also to assist the rapidly aging population (there is an incentive available for construction workers who outfit houses with accessibility features). The tricky thing with "looking into" is one can discharge that responsibility with very little cost or fan fair. For example, in the next three minutes I'm going to look into doing my calculus homework. Wow that's a lot of homework. Back to blogging.
They are also aiming to use the revenue from the below market value sale of these land units for an initiative to encourage interest in housing or rec facilities. 
And the senior's initiatives. We're talking "senior-friendly" training for front-line workers (sounds like customer service is a battlefield),more senior oriented festivals, better coordination between rec facilities and senior's housing, and evaluating the current senior's property tax rebate.
Kinda makes me wish I was old.
There are two possible reasons for this campaign feature; One, he really does care about the aging population, or two, it's aimed to undermine David Dorward's bid to find votes in the elderly demographic, by expanding on his platform. We'll likely be able to tell on election day, if all the eight seaters budget vans are rented out by supporters of the two parties so they can ferry old people to the booths, and tell them who to vote for (it's worked before).

Although the whole issue is making me dry-heave, it needs to be addressed, again: the airport. Mandel has posted a letter, dated September 15th, 2010, that outlines why council could not vote on the issue, and why the petition was ignored. It seems a compelling reason (council can't wait forever to act on the chance that someone may object) but whether you consider it a fair reason, or the council hiding behind the law, is a personal choice. I do have to wonder, however, why the petition people would wait until just before election season to put in the paperwork, and whether anyone else can do anything differently. Notice how no candidates are promising to keep the airport open, just that they promise to hold a vote, but since the confirmed airport supporters (those who signed the petition) number 73,567 out of a population of 782, 439, if they promised the airport it would only gain less than ten percent of the vote.

You are likely all thinking right now, "Geez, I thought she was supposed to be objective?" but let's be honest, Mayor Mandel has thousands of dollars to put into professional campaign management (he has two full-time campaign managers, neither of whom are his mother), if he has problems or inconsistencies, it'll likely take a whole army of monstering journalists to suss them out. The moral of the story is; you've had six years to form an opinion on Mandel, if you like him, you're gonna keep liking him, if you don't, there is not a damn thing I can say that will change that. It's the reality of elections and such; being the incumbent is a good and bad position. Pretty much the only way you can be toppled is by a really strong outside opponent, which I'm not sure any of the newcomers really are, especially since they can not say that they will do any different than what Mandel has already done.

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