In the absence of any real issues in this week's mayoral election--unless you count the ever terrifying traffic concerns--it's pretty difficult to know how to vote. It seems best to pick your mayor by reverse elimination; that is, by dumping the candidates with the most ridiculous ideas or most vacuous platforms. Among the frontrunners, it's hard to know where to start.
In keeping with their fiercely guarded patent on stupidity, the Calgary Sun nicknamed our leading mayoral candidate "Bronco." Dave Bronconnier's spending spree/mayoral campaign is a classic example of the big-city salesman pulling the wool over the eyes of an audience of bucktoothed hayseeds. To read his pamphlets, you'd think Bronco has discovered a way to turn urine into pure diesel fuel. His plan to annex land east of Calgary is impossible, and to claim otherwise is tantamount to electoral fraud. For decades, urban planners have been foiled in their quest to expand Calgary eastward past sour-gas wells. It was recently made public that the other reason the city can't expand past Coral Springs or Taradale is because it would mean leaving the Bow River watershed, hence the logistics of providing water to and carting sewage from homes in this area is something developers just cannot afford. So Bronco, while you might dupe Jeb and Cletus at Mopar to throw their vote away, the truth is this idea is not fiscally possible. For you to second guess two decades of urban planners is just plain insulting. No vote for you.
Ah, Richard Magnus. "Shift out of neutral?" This macho, crotch-thrusting car analogy has me somewhat less than inspired. If Calgary is a car idling in neutral, then Vancouver, Winnipeg, etc., are burning rubber in reverse. Our city's lack of problems and abundance of funds make us the envy of other Canadians (until they hear about our arts scene, then we're even). In fairness, Magnus doesn't have a stand on most issues, so it's hard to criticize him--except when it comes to photo radar.
"It raises millions of dollars a year for the police," says Magnus. "But if the police need more money to do their jobs, then let's just give them the money."
I didn't make this up. Magnus' suggestion is to eliminate a source of funding, obtained solely from those in breach of the law, and replace it with money taken from every single taxpayer in the city. Hmm. And this collectivist approach is brought to you by the self-appointed right-wing mayoral candidate.
Bev Longstaff's absence from the Students' Union-sponsored forum in Science Theatres leaves students with little to gauge her by. However, one look at her Web site shows she's hell-bent on Enmax, and has precious little else to her campaign. If you click on "issues," you'll find a mind-numbing array of statisitcs with a list of committees Longstaff sat on, and no obvious link between the two. Apparently, she has no opinions, and there is no suggestion as to what her plans are if elected. Longstaff's carefully tailored non-opinion on just about every issue removes this waffler from my list.
Then there's Allan Hunter, whose near-invisible campaign seems to consist mostly of name-calling and constant references to the stupidity and arrogance of the so-called "fab four." Perhaps fittingly, his campaign Web site has at least eight spelling and grammatical mistakes. I don't know about you, but this clever fellow was never on my list.
Ray Clark is a friendly guy--he "puts people first!"--but that doesn't count for a whole lot. We're electing a mayor, we're not choosing a bunkmate. A candidate should have some original and non-stupid ideas in order to get my vote. While Clark's failed run at the mayoral seat in 1998 against the juggernaut Al Duerr leaves little doubt about his sincerity, his lack of any other distinguishing characteristics gives one little reason to throw support behind him. At least he doesn't insult a) city planners, b) the other candidates or c) your intelligence, which is more than I can say about the other frontrunners.
In conclusion, I propose you save all your thinking for the school trustees and eat your mayoral ballot.