A new municipal government will be elected on Oct. 18 and a U of C student hopes to be among the newly inaugurated. Mike Pal, aged 21 and a Philosophy and Political Science major, is running for mayor.
Working with a campaign team assembled over the last year, Pal is running because he and his team want to see the implementation of important ideas rather than the implementation of big-money interests.
"We're running because we don't think that big money trumps big ideas," said Pal.
While many students would be intimidated to run in a city election, Pal's philosophy speaks otherwise. One of his campaign catchphrases, for example, revolves around the people who say "You can't do that." Pal's response? "Watch us."
Pal criticizes mayor Dave Bron-connier on a number of issues, but especially for not taking a "bottom-up" approach to city governance.
"Dave Bronconnier has failed to consider priorities of Calgarians above the priorities of others," said Pal. "He is not so much mayor of the people as he is mayor of special interests."
Pal cites tourist attractions as among special interests that have received funding. "Bronconnier doesn't seem to be looking out for the mom who's taking her kids to the zoo," Pal commented. "It seems like he has ulterior motives [for those kinds of funding projects]."
Pal has ideas and solutions of his own to back up his criticisms of Bronconnier, outlined by his extensive public policy platform. Calgary's budget, transportation, infrastructure, water, waste management, multiculturalism, youth, drugs, violence, and accountability are all issues Pal addresses in this document that has taken about a year to research and design.
"We have concrete proposals that are really down to earth and we took a look at lots of cities across Canada when we came up with those ideas," explained Pal.
It remains to be seen, however, whether or not Pal's ideas are feasible or if they can draw enough votes to overtake other candidates. Mayor Bronconnier could not be reached for comment on his opinion of the newcomer's policy plans.
One thing is for sure. With Mike Pal in the race, City Hall is about to hear a new voice--even if it's just during the campaign leading up to Oct. 18. And with a U of C student in the running, the university campus may even have a fresh outlook on the election as a whole.
"The most important thing that we bring to the table is a bottom-up approach," said Pal. "We're willing to consider the people, and that includes everyone."