Saturday, October 13, 2007

Election 2007.

I was lucky. My parents always forced us to vote when we were younger, and now that I'm older, it's just second nature. I love my city, and I want what is best for it.
That being said, until this election, I had never bothered to walk into a voting booth with an informed decision... I mostly just picked candidates based on how funny their names were (Bronconnier? Kind-of a funny name.). However, since I am now working in the non-profit sector, the election directly affects my rate of pay, and whether or not I even have a job, so I figured that I should do my homework. Now, before I continue with this post, please keep in mind that I'm not a political blogger, and the following is mainly for entertainment value (mostly to entertain myself).

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Let's talk about some of the main issues of this election:

Transportation-
Now, it's not that I mind having to essentially dry-hump filthy construction workers and old ladies on the bus every day on the way home from work, but you know what would be nice? Some room on the bus. Yes, we have a lack of drivers, thus the city is finding it difficult to keep up with transit demands for our growing population, but with drivers being trained at $11 an hour for the first eight weeks, and low salaries thereafter, why would anyone even bother trying to work for the system? With the threat of a strike a few months ago, wages and benefits were increased slightly for existing workers, but no new incentives were put in place for new employees, and most people looking for low-paying jobs will probably just go work for Tim Hortons instead, where they at least get free donuts all day long.
The current state of our public transit system is not good. The city is quite concerned with traffic, but doesn't offer any solutions for people to stop driving around so much.
What the city doesn't realize is that public transit really brings everyone together. Every morning, when I get on the bus and put my ticket in the slot, I raise my head and give everyone a little nod like "what's up guys? Oh, you guys are losers too? Alright."
You want a cure for racism, sexism, and ageism? Make everyone take the bus for a while. By the end, the whole city will have been knocked down a few pegs, and everyone will probably just become BFFs.

Crime-
As much as I adore this city, lately we've been acting a lot like that kid in grade eight that got moved up from grade seven halfway through the year that spent all of his time trying to act 'cool' next to the big kids. I feel like our criminal population looked over at cities like Vancouver and Toronto, and decided that they really had to step it up a notch to get us on the map. See Vancouver? We've got a crack problem too. Now can we hang out with you at lunch?
They say that we'll need to hire two hundred police officers in order to have a full police force, but I really don't think they're ever going to be able to find two hundred young, college-educated, agile, drug-free people to fill the positions. Does it take a genius to write a ticket or hold down a crazy man while he shouts obscenities about Jesus? Perhaps we need to re-think the requirements to join the force. As well, if the cops less effort into scribbling out tickets for minor traffic violations and kicking skateboarders off of the Petro Canada building steps, and more effort patrolling areas like the deep northeast (a well-known hub for organized crime), where there are three cars patrolling an area that is triple the size of downtown, then maybe we wouldn't be in this mess... Just a thought.

Housing-
I am one of the few people I know that actually lives in some sort of affordable housing. That being said, I probably live in the smallest one-bedroom in the city, where I am crammed directly above my neighbours. It's kind-of fun to play games like "What are the neighbours fighting about?", and "What are the neighbours having for dinner?" (the answer for both is almost always 'meatloaf'), but the truth is, my tiny place would be worth about $400/month in Winnipeg or Regina. Housing is tough in this city, and the current solution of spreading out like disease into communities like Cochrane, Okotoks, and Airdrie is not working. Many candidates are preaching about building up as opposed to out. It would be great to see some more downtown development, for both retail and residential units. I've never lived in a place outside of the general downtown area, and perhaps a die-hard suburbanite would have different ideas on the subject, but at the current moment, it's tough to find a place downtown that isn't a $2000/month condo. For a city that centres our economy around big-business oil companies, most of which are located in the downtown core, you'd think that logically, they'd want to try and lure the population closer in toward the city centre, but I'm pretty positive that our current administration enjoys his clone-house out in the burbs, where it's easy to ignore the heart of the city.
The point is, the way things are going, any of us could become homeless at anytime. As someone that works closely with the homeless population, I've seen a shift from the shelters being full of wacky, mentally-ill fellas that go to the bathroom wherever they please, to families and working-class people that have been forced out of living situations due to raises in rent and cost of living. Despite the fact that I may or may not be out of a job if the homeless population decreases, I think all of us would like to see less people out on the streets (and I'm not just saying this because, as of late, the hobo uniform of slim jeans, sneakers with the tongues out, and flannel jackets has turned into the style-norm, and from a distance, I've been mistaking homeless dudes for my friends).

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The front-runner candidates for mayor are as follows:

Dave Bronconnier -
This is our current mayor. He's become quite diligent at avoiding most of the pertinent issues, and has embraced the whole "ignorance is bliss" attitude for quite some time now. He looks like the guy that sold my mom her car. Although he has been criticised for his lack of action on affordable housing and transit, and his support of urban sprawl and fucked-up construction projects, the rumor is that he's still a shoe-in for another term.

Alnoor Kassam-
Currently, is using "Al Noor" as his campaign name, as it's easier to pronounce, more folksy, and significantly more caucasian-sounding. He looks like the guy that sold me travel insurance. He has been involved in a rental-increase scandal, as well as a Kenyan financial scandal (who of us hasn't?), but has some good ideas on transit and homelessness. As well, his radio ads are sassy as fuck.

A couple of the "just joking" candidates for mayor are:

Sandy Jenkins-
On October 10th, Sandy was forcibly removed from a Weakerthans concert for sneaking in. When asked if he was remorseful, he claimed "No, I love the Weakerthans". You know, I don't know how you couldn't love the guy a little bit for risking his entire campaign for a glimpse at a Canadian indie group that comes to town like eight times a year.

JJ Sunstrum-
This guy showed up to register at city hall in his pajamas and some buffalo slippers. Although I enjoy his "fuck it, I'm going to look like I just wake'n baked in the parking lot and went to get some Egg Mcmuffins before trying to become mayor" attitude, I'm pretty positive that TSDF* with the majority of Calgarians.

Jeremy Zhao-
Would this city be better off if it were run by a 19-year-old university student? The answer is a resounding 'YES'. Can a 19-year-old university student trick a large portion of the population into voting him into office? Unfortunately, probably not. He did, however, promise to wear a cowboy hat in his official mayoral photograph if elected, something that hasn't been done since 1988.

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Look, in the scheme of things, I can't tell you who to vote for, particularly because I haven't quite decided for myself yet. The best advice I can give is to vote, no matter what your decision.
As a bonus, check your voting locations for your area... You may get to catch a glimpse of the inside of your old elementary school gym or the dingy walls of your local legion... Neat!

~sarah p.

*TSDF= That Shit Don't Fly.
Sorry for the novel, guys.

3 comments:

marco said...

wow! massive props on the local election coverage. yeah, i don't think anyone's got a chance in hell of unseating bronco. But alnoor's have been a good distraction. Man, that guy's got friends with deep pockets. Or maybe he's got deep pockets. whatev.

the alderman race is where the excitement's at, tho. You still in hillhurst? dru's pretty cool, not that i'm in her riding.

I voted this morning, and i think i'm already regretting my decisions...

check calgarydemocracy.ca
for detailed local coverage.

sarah p. said...

Thanks, Marco.

I live in Bankview now, which is Ward 8, but had to vote in Ward 9, due to the fact that I am not really an "adult" yet, and still get my legal documents sent to my parents' place. Needless to say, I had to vote for an alderman that I really didn't know enough about.

Was I surprised that Bronconnier was re-elected? No.
A girl can dream, right?
I was, however, mega-jazzed that little Jeremy Zhao came in fourth in the runnings.... Hopefully this election has started him on the right path.

marco said...

bankview?! cool, i guess we're neighbours now. incidently, john mar is the guy i least wanted to win. *sigh*