Sunday, November 5, 2017

2017 Quebec municipal elections today

Municipal elections are being held across the province of Quebec's 1,110 municipalities today. Voters will elect mayors, and municipal councillors and in some municipalities, borough mayors and borough councillors as well. Additionally, 16 of Quebec's 87 regional county municipalities are having direct elections for their prefect (the leader of the county council). In many of Quebec's municipalities- including 12 of its 13 largest cities, local political parties will be contesting for seats on their respective councils. Elections in those cities often focus on parties trying get a majority of seats on their councils.

Individual parties in Quebec municipalities are often short lived operations, and often are groups pledging support behind one particular mayoral candidate. This can easily be seen in their names, such as “Équipe Denis Coderre pour Montréal” (Team Denis Coderre for Montreal). In fact, most parties have “Équipe so-and-so” as part of their names (in this post, I usually drop these distinctions for the sake brevity, but some party names are just “Équipe so-and-so”, so I can't always avoid the matter). Anyway, when parties are unsuccessful they will often disband as soon as the election is over, and new ones will be created for the next. Municipal parties can sometimes be ideological, but are often just supporters of a particular mayoral candidate. None have official ties to federal or provincial parties, but many often draw their support from the same voters.

Montreal

Most eyes will be on the mayoral and council race in Quebec's largest city of Montreal, which looks to have an exciting race, if polls are to be believed.

In the 2013 election, former federal Liberal cabinet minister Denis Coderre was elected mayor of the city, winning just 32% of the vote, in a four way race. Coderred defeated future federal Liberal cabinet minister Mélanie Joly (who won 26.5% of the vote), city councillor Richard Bergeron (25.5%) and economist Marcel Côté (12.8%). Coderre's party, the Équipe Denis Coderre pour Montréal
(Team Denis Coderre for Montreal) won a plurality of seats on council, 26 of 65, seven short of a majority. Even though he finished in third place on the mayoral ballot, Bergeron's party, Projet Montréal (Project Montreal) became the main opposition party on council, winning 20 seats. Côté's party, Coalition Montréal won six seats, and Joly's Vraie changement pour Montréal (True Change for Montreal) won just four seats. Local borough parties and independents won the remaining eight seats. The 2013 election marked the beginning of a new era in Montreal civic politics. From 2002 to 2012 Montreal had been led by Gérald Tremblay, who had to resign following being implicated in the Charbonneau Commission. With his resignation, Tremblay and his centrist Union Montreal party dissolved, making way for Coderre and his new centrist party's election victory. 
 
2013 mayoral election results by borough
Since the 2013 election, a series of defections to Coderre's party would result in his party forming a majority on council earlier this year. Coderre's party now has 36 seats going into today's election. The opposition Projet Montréal has 19 seats, but has since firmly become Montreal's main opposition party. The other parties have dissolved into small rumps to the point that Vrai changement is not even running a mayoral candidate and Coalition Montréal's mayoral candidate dropped out of the campaign and endorsed Projet Montréal's mayoral candidate, Valérie Plante.

Usually incumbent mayors are re-elected in a cakewalk in their sophomore elections, but with Quebec's unique municipal party system means that this is not always the case. Coderre is facing a stiff challenge from the very formidable Valérie Plante, who has been a city councillor since 2013 and was elected leader of the left-wing Projet Montréal in 2015. She was elected following the departure of the party's founder, Richard Bergeron who left the party and would later join Coderre's party. Throughout the beginning of the campaign, Coderre had a decent lead over Plante in polls, but she has caught up to him, and now the race is neck-and-neck. CROP's last poll, released October 30 gave Plante a two point lead (39% to 37%) over Coderre, with 17% undecided.

One reason for Coderre's polling troubles has been that he is seen as being arrogant, corrupt, authoritarian and divisive, perhaps a throw back to the day's of Montreal's most notorious mayor, Jean Drapeau. To fight back, Coderre has attacked Projet Montréal's financial plan, pie-in-the-sky like promises and Plante's lack of experience.

Map of Montreal's city council districts used in 2013. The 2017 map saw little change.

In total, Montreal City Council is made up of 65 members, which includes a mayor, elected city wide, 18 borough mayors elected from 18 of the 19 boroughs (Ville-Marie has no borough mayor) and 46 councillors elected from 46 districts across the city. In addition, Montreal voters will be electing 38 separate borough councillor positions. These separate borough councillors are not members of city council, but often represent the same parties. Some boroughs have their city councillors as also borough councillors, and therefore do not have separate borough councillors. Candidates for mayor of the city often have a colistier (a “running mate”) who run for council in their place. If a mayoral candidate wins, then the colistier is elected to council (providing that the colistier also wins their seat); if they lose, then the mayoral candidate can still sit on council, as long as their colistier won their seat.



In 2013, Coderre's main base of support came from the more suburban parts of the city, especially the north end, an area he represented as Member of Parliament. Joly's personal support came from the urban south end of the city, an area of the city where she managed to win five boroughs, but where her party had won just one actual council seat (and not even her own, where her colistier lost). Bergeron and his party did well in the east end of the city, especially in the notoriously left wing Pleateau Borough. The 2017 election thus begins with the battle lines drawn, and the two main parties will have to fight over the south and central parts of the city where Joly did well. In 2013, Projet Montréal won many of the council seats in this area, but they will need to win almost all of them to get at least a plurality on city council.


Quebec City

Quebec's provincial capital has been led by mayor Régis Labeaume since a mayoral by-election was held in 2007 following the death of the previous mayor, Andrée Boucher. Labeaume is extremely popular, and polls show that he is expected to win once again. His party, the conservative Équipe Labeaume (Team Labeaume) won all but three seats in the 2013 municipal election. Labeaume himself won 74% of the mayoral vote, and his party won 65% of the council vote.

2013 council results by district

In 2013, Labeaume's party was challenged by the upstart Démocratie Québec (Democracy Quebec), a progressive leaning party, which naturally did not do very well in the conservative city. Labeaume's party won 19 of the council seats, while Démocratie Québec won the remaining three, all in the more left-leaning core of the city. 

 
Quebec City's council districts to be used this election

For this election, there will be three new parties contesting for seats on Quebec City's council. The main competition for opposition status will come from Québec 21 Équipe JF Gosselin, which is the party of Jean-François Gosselin, a former ADQ Member of Quebec's National Assembly. Gosselin's last foray into politics was running in the 2012 provincial election for the Liberals. Gosselin will be running for mayor against Labeaume and polls put him in second place, ahead of Démocratie Québec's mayoral candidate, Anne Guérette, who is currently a city councillor. It will be interesting to see if Gosselin's party can win any council seats, as it is likely Démocratie Québec will still win some of the more urban districts, while Gosselin's support could be more concentrated in the suburbs where Labeaume will still do well.


Laval

Laval's council is currently led by former police officer (and former PQ candidate) Marc Demers and his left-of-centre Mouvement lavallois (Laval Movement). Demers and his party were first elected in the 2013 election, replacing the previous Parti PRO des Lavallois regime, which was also dissolved following the Charbonneau inquiry. Laval's mayor had been Gilles Vaillancourt who resigned in 2012, and would later plead guilty of corruption and fraud and sent to prison. The 2013 election was thus a watershed election for Laval, with only three incumbents running for re-election. Mouvement lavallois won the election, winning 18 of the city's 22 seats. The only other party to win seats was the centrist Action Laval, which won two seats. Action Laval's mayoral candidate was former Liberal MNA Jean-Claude Gobé, who lost to Demers 44% to 24%.



Demers and Gobé will once again duke it out for Laval's top job. There are five other candidates running for mayor, including two sitting city councillors, Michel Trottier and Alain Lecompte. Michel Trottier was elected in 2013 as an independent, but has formed a new party called Parti Laval (Laval Party), which includes two incumbent councillors running for re-election. Lecompte was elected in 2013 as a member of Mouvement lavallois, but has also formed a new party, the Alliance des conseillers autonomes (Alliance of independent councillors). There is one other party running in Laval and that is of Avenir Laval (Future Laval), led by Sonia Baudelot.

Laval's city council districts used in 2013. The 2017 map saw little change.


Gatineau

The 2013 election in Gatineau saw a surprise victory for Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin, who defeated incumbent mayor Marc Bureau 53% to 36%. The race was between two centre-left candidates, with Pedneaud-Jobin winning all but one district. Bureau managed to win the city's downtown Hull-Wright District, while Pedneaud-Jobin won everywhere else. Pedneaud-Jobin is the leader of Gatineau's first and only political party, Action Gatineau. While he won the mayoral race in a landslide, his council slate fared less well, winning just five seats. Independents won the remaining 14 seats on council.


For this year's election, Pedneaud-Jobin will be challenged by two of those indpendent city councillors, Denis Tassé and Sylvie Goneau. There was one poll released by Segma Research which showed Pedneaud-Jobin easily defeating Tassé and Goneau, with 53% to Tassé's 24% and Goneau's 14% with 21% undecided. It should be noted though that Segma botched the 2013 race, showing Bureau defeating Pedneaud-Jobin 51%-34%.

Gatineau's city council districts used in 2013. The 2017 map saw little change.


Four incumbent councillors will be running for re-election for Action Gatineau (excluding Pedneaud-Jobin), while eight independent councillors are running for re-election.


Longueuil

Longueuil will see a changing of the guard in this election, as incumbent mayor and former BQ Member of Parliament Caroline St-Hilaire is not running for re-election. Her party, Action Longueuil which won all but two council seats in 2013 is still in existence though, and is being led by city councillor Sylvie Parent. Running against Parent is another city councillor, Josée Latendresse who was elected in a by-election in 2016 for Action Longueuil, but left the party to sit as an independent. She has formed a new party called Longueuil citoyen (Longueuil Citizen). The third mayoral candidate is former NDP Member of Parliament Sadia Groguhé, who leads the new Option Longueuil party. 



 
Many incumbent city councillors left Action Longueuil and will be running for Longueuil citoyen. Seven incumbents will be running for Longueuil citoyen, while only four are running again for Action Longueuil. 

Longueuil's city council districts
 

Sherbrooke

Sherbrooke's council has been led by mayor Bernard Sévigny since 2009 and he will once again be running for re-election. In 2013, he was easily re-elected with 73% of the vote. Sévigny leads the centre-right Renouveau sherbrookois (Sherbrooke Renewal), which was the only major party in the 2013 election. Even so, his party only won 10 of the 20 seats on council, with the remaining 10 going to independents.



This time there will be a more competitive party running against Renouveau sherbrookois. That is of Sherbrooke citoyen (Sherbrooke Citizen), led by former Quebec solidaire candidate Hélène Pigot. They face an uphill challenge as no incumbents will be running for them. In addition, there are three independent candidates running for mayor. For council, there are six incumbents running for Renouveau sherbrookois and seven independent incumbents running for re-election.

Sherbrooke's new electoral map

Since the last election, Sherbrooke's city council structure will be re-structured. City council will be reduced from 20 to 15 seats (14 districts plus the mayor). Additionally, the city will go from having six boroughs to just four, and will be numbered instead of named. The three-seat Lennoxville Borough Council (now called Borough 3) will be retained, but the Brompton Borough Council has been abolished, as that Borough was merged with the neighbouring Rock Forest—Saint-Élie—Deauville Borough.


Saguenay



Jean Tremblay, who has been mayor of Saguenay since the city's amalgamation in 2002, is finally stepping down. There are four candidates running to replace him, the best known is former Conservative cabinet minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn who is running as an independent. There are two municipal parties running as well and are both running mayoral candidates. The older of the two parties is Équipe du renouveau démocratique (Democratic Renewal Team), which ran in the last election and won two seats. One of those seats was won by Josée Néron who is the party's mayoral candidate. The second party in the city is Parti des citoyens de Saguenay (Party of Saguenay Citizens), which was formed by Mayor Tremblay after the last election. Their mayoral candidate is Dominic Gagnon. Seven councillors who were elected as incumbents in 2013 joined this party and are running for re-election. Five independent councillors are running for re-election. Blackburn was originally going to run for this party, but had a falling out. A fourth candidate running is independent Arthur Gobeil, an accountant. Polling suggests Néron has a bit of a lead over Blackburn with Gagnon in a distant fourth, perhaps due to Blackburn's candidacy. Saguenay City Council has shrunk in size from 20 to 16 seats.

Saguenay's new electoral map

Lévis



Mayor Gilles Lehouillier of Lévis Force 10 is running for re-election against André Voyer who was a council candidate for the opposition Renouveau Lévis (Renewal Lévis) in 2013, but is running as an independent this time. Renouveau Lévis still exists, but is only running four candidates for council and are not running a mayoral candidate. Lévis Force 10 have already won 11 seats on council, as in 11 districts their candidates were the only ones to register. Lévis Force 10 did quite well in 2013 winning all but one seat on council, with an independent candidate winning the remaining seat.

Lévis' city council districts


Trois-Rivières



Trois-Rivières is the largest city in the province with no political parties. There was a fringe party that ran in 2013, but are not running any candidates this time. The city is led by mayor Yves Lévesque, who has been mayor of the city since amalgamation in 2002. The centre-right mayor was re-elected in 2013 over city councillor Sylvie Tardif with 49% of the vote to her 31%. This election, Lévesque is being challenged by city councillor Jean-François Aubin and André Bertrand. Trois-Rivières City council reduced in size from 17 to 15 seats. 

Trois-Rivières city council districts

Terrebonne

Long-time mayor and former Tory MP Jean-Marc Robitaille resigned in 2016 following corruption allegations in the fallout of the Charbonneau Commission. He was replaced as mayor by city councillor Stéphane Berthe. Robitaille's party (Équipe Robitaille) won all but two seats in the 2013 elections, but is no longer an active party for obvious reasons. 

 

Berthe is running for mayor under the new banner of Générations Terrebonne (Generations Terrebonne). Two incumbent city councillors will be running for his party, while the remaining incumbents will be running for Alliance démocratique Terrebonne (Terrebonne Democratic Alliance) whose mayoral candidate is Marc-André Plante. A third party was created called Nouvel Élan Terrebonne (New Spirit Terrebonne) and are also running a full slate of candidates, including Valérie Quevillon who is running for mayor. 

Terrebonne's city council districts
 

Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu

In 2013, the race in Saint-Jean was a free-for-all after the departure of mayor Gilles Dolbec. Michel Fecteau was elected mayor of the city with just 22% of the vote, narrowly ahead of former BQ Member of Parliament Claude Bachand at 20%. Two other candidates were right behind Fecteau and Bachand: Alain Laplante won 19% of the vote, and Stéphane Legrand won 18%. The top three candidates in that election will once again face-off for the mayoralty of the city this time.



The council vote in 2013 was split between three parties. Fecteau's party (Parti Fecteau) won six seats on the 13 seat council; Despite finishing fourth in the mayoral election, Legrand's party (Vision Legrand) became the opposition with five seats. Équipe Alain Laplante won just one seat, while an Independent won the remaining seat. Bachand's party, Avec Bachand (With Bachand) was left off of council.

Saint-Jean's city council districts

Since 2013, Vision Legrand disbanded, with some of its councillors becoming independents and some joining Parti Fecteau. The one independent on council also joined Parti Fecteau. However, some Parti Fecteau councillors left that party. All in all, five incumbent councillors are running for Parti Fecteau, three are running for Équipe Alain Laplante and three are running as independents.


Brossard

Brossard has been led by mayor Paul Leduc from 1990 to 2001 and since 2009. He was re-elected in 2013 with 65% of the vote against his opponent, Louis Lemoine who won 35%. Leduc's party, Priority Brossard won all but two seats on council, while Lemoine's party, Brossard Revival winning the remaining two.



Leduc will once again be running for re-election. Brossard Revival's mayoral candidate is Jean-Marc Pelletier. In addition to those two, this year's mayoral race has expanded thanks to the addition of a new party, Brossard Ensemble (Brossard Together), led by former Priority Brossard councillor Doreen Assaad. She is joined on the ballot by former NDP Member of Parliament Hoang Mai who is running as an independent.

Brossard's city council districts

Five incumbent councillors will be running for re-election for Priority Brossard, two are running for Brossard Ensemble (both former members of Priority Brossard), while one councillor is running for re-election for Brossard Revival.


Repentigny

Long-time Repentigny mayor Chantal Deschamps (of Équipe Deschamps) is running for re-election. She will be challenged by councillor Bruno Villeneuve of Parti démocratique de Repentigny-Le Gardeur (Democratic Party of Repentigny-Le Gardeur). Last election, Deschamps won the mayoralty with 62% of the vote against her Parti démocratique opponent, Jean Langlois who won 38%. Deschamps' party won 12 of the 13 seats on council. Only Villeneuve was able to win a seat for Parti démocratique. With Villeneuve running for mayor, Parti démocratique have no incumbents running for re-election in any of the district seats. All incumbent councillors will be running for Équipe Deschamps.

 
Repentigny's city council districts

Other major cities:

- Drummondville:
Incumbent mayor Alexandre Cusson has been re-elected with no opposition. He was first elected in 2013. There are no parties in Drummondville.
- Saint-Jérôme: Incumbent mayor Stéphane Maher has also been re-elected with no opposition. He too was first elected in 2013. His party, Vision Saint-Jérôme is the only one contesting the election, and already have six councillors elected without opposition.
- Granby: Incumbent mayor Pascal Bonin is running for re-election against Yves Bélanger and Carl Bouvier. Bonin was first elected in 2013, when he defeated then-mayor Richard Goulet. There are no parties in Granby.
- Blainville: Blainville will see a re-match of the 2013 mayoral race between mayor Richard Perreault of Vrai Blainville (True Blainville) and Florent Gravel of Mouvement Blainville (Blainville Movement). Vrai Bainville won every seat on council in 2013.
- Saint-Hyacinthe: Incumbent mayor Claude Corbeil faces a challenge from Chantal Goulet. Corbeil was first elected in 2013. There are no parties in Saint-Hyacinthe.
- Mirabel: Incumbent mayor Jean Bouchard of Action Mirbael is challenged by two candidates; city councillor Pierre-Paul Meloche of Mouvement citoyen Mirabel (Mirabel Citizen Movement), an Action Mirabel defector, and René Plouffe who leads Renouveau Mirabel (Mirabel Renewal), who is only running one other council candidate. In 2013, Action Mirabel was the only party in the municipality, winning six of the nine seats. In this election, Action Mirabel are running five councillors for re-election, while Mouvement citoyen Mirabel has one incumbent councillor running.
- Shawinigan: Incumbent mayor Michel Angers is running for re-election against François Bonenfant and Judeline Corriveau. Angers has been mayor since 2009. There are no parties in Shawinigan.
- Dollard-Des Ormeaux: Incumbent mayor Edward Janiszewski is finally facing a credible opposition since being acclaimed to office in 2013. He is challenged by incumbent councillor Alex Bottausci and two other candidates. Janiszewski was first elected in 2005, and has never faced stiff competition for the job in his career. There are no parties in the city.
- Rimouski: Rimouski got a new mayor last year when its mayor, Éric Forest was appointed to the Senate. Forest was replaced by city councillor Marc Parent, who will be running to keep his job. He will be running against city councillor Pierre Chassé and two other candidates. There are no parties in Rimouski.
- Châteauguay: Châteauguay mayor Nathalie Simon of the Citizens' Action party is being challenged by Vision Châteauguay candidate Pierre-Paul Routhier and independent councillor Steve Brisebois. Simon has been mayor of the city since 2009. In 2013, the Citizens' Action party was the only party running, and won six of the nine seats on council. The remaining three independents formed the new Vision Châteauguay party, and with one floor-crosser have four city councillors running for re-election against just three for Citizens' Action.
- Mascouche: Incumbent mayor Guillaume Tremblay of Vision Démocratique de Mascouche (Democratic Vision of Mascouche) is being challenged by two independent candidates, François Collin and Line Lavallée. Tremblay was first elected in 2013, when his party won every seat on council defeating Équipe Luc Thériault. Now, Vision Démocratique is the only party in the city, and have already won six seats on council due to acclamations.
- Victoriaville: Former BQ Member of Parliament André Bellavance was easily elected in a rare mayoral by-election in 2016. He will be running for re-election against Jean Roy. There are no parties in Victoraville.
- Saint-Eustache: Incumbent mayor Pierre Charron of Option Saint-Eustache is being challenged by city councillor Julie Desmarais or Renouveau Saint-Eustache (Renewal Saint-Eustache) and Robert St-Germain of Accès Saint-Eustache (Access Saint-Eustache). Charron has been mayor since 2005, and was easily elected in 2013 when his party was the only one in town. His party won all but two seats on council. One of those two his party did win was won by Desmarais, who ran as an independent. All but one incumbent councillor running for re-election is running for Option Saint-Eustache, with the remaining councillor running as an independent.
- Rouyn-Noranda: Incumbent mayor Mario Provencher is running for re-election, and will be challenged by four other candidates. Provencher was first elected in 2009, and was easily re-elected in 2013 with 80% of the vote. This time he faces stiff opposition from city councillors Diane Dallaire and Philippe Marquis. There are no parties in Rouyn-Noranda, though Provencher had his own party in 2013 where he was the only candidate.
- Boucherville: Incumbent mayor Jean Martel is running for re-election against Monique Reeves. Martel has been mayor of the city since 2009, and leads the only party in the city, Option Citoyens Citoyennes (Citizens Option). In 2013, his party won every seat on city council. In this election, his party has already won two seats due to acclamation. Every incumbent running for re-election, save one is running for his party, while one incumbent is running as an independent.
- Sallaberry-de-Valleyfield: Long-time mayor Denis Lapointe is not running for re-election, leaving this race open. City councillor François Labossière is running against Joanne Brunet and Miguel Lemieux. There are no parties in Valleyfield.
- Vaudreuil-Dorion: Mayor Guy Pilon of Parti de l'Action de Vaudreuil-Dorion (Vaudreuil-Dorion Action Party) is running for re-election against Pierre Séguin, leader of “Team we are”. In 2013 Parti de l'Action was the only party running, and won all but one seat on council.


Prefectural races

Among the 16 races for regional county municipality (RCM) prefects, the two largest RCMs are Montcalm and Les Pays d'en Haut, both of which are located north of Montreal. In Les Pays d'en Haut, Wentworth-Nord mayor André Genest takes on Martin Nadon, Marie-Claire Vachon and Guy Vandenhove for the top job. In Montcalm, Saint-Calixte mayor Louis-Charles Thouin has been acclaimed as prefect.

Polls close across the province at 8pm.

Monday, October 16, 2017

2017 Alberta municipal elections today

Voters in Alberta will be heading to the polls today to elect the municipal councils and school trustees in 287 of Alberta's 354 municipalities. This includes 17 of the province's 18 cities (Lloydminster, which is partly in Saskatchewan holds elections on Saskatchewan's municipal election day), 108 towns, 89 villages, 5 specialized municipalities, 64 municipal districts, 1 improvement district and the “Special Areas Board”, which covers Alberta's three “special areas”. Alberta's 51 “summer villages” held their municipal elections in the summer.

Out of Alberta's 17 cities holding elections, only two: Alberta's largest cities of Calgary and Edmonton- elect their councils using a ward structure. The remaining 15 cities elect their councils on an at-large basis. However, in most of Alberta's 69 mainly rural municipal districts and specialized municipalities, councils are elected from wards or “divisions”. In most of the municipal districts, mayors and reeves (equivalent of mayor) are not directly elected by voters, but elected from within the municipal council, much like how Premiers are chosen in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Some towns and most villages do not have direct elections for mayor either.

Across the province, there will be no election for head of council (mayor or reeve) in the municipalities of Bashaw, Bonnyville, Bow Island, Brazeau County, Brooks, Cardston, Coalhurst, Cold Lake, Crowsnest Pass, Daysland, Eckville, Fairview, Grimshaw, Hanna, High Level, Jasper, Killam, Lamont, Manning, Mayerthorpe, McLennan, Milk River, Millet, Morinville, Olds, Picture Butte, Provost, Rimbey, Sedgewick, Sexsmith, Slave Lake, Standard, Stettler, Swan Hills, Sylvan Lake, Three Hills, Valleyview, Vulcan, Wainwright and Wembley. Entire councils were acclaimed, meaning there will be no elections at all in the municipalities of Barnwell, Bashaw, Beiseker, Bittern Lake, Breton, Castor, Cereal, Champion, Chauvin, Coalhurst, Cremona, Czar, Daysland, Dewberry, Donalda, Donnelly, Eckville, Ferintosh, Girouxville, Halkirk, Hill Spring, Hussar, Irma, Kananaskis Imrpovement District, Killam, Lomond, Lougheed, Manning, Mayerthorpe, McLennan, Munson, Myrnam, Nobleford, Onoway, Peace No. 135, Ranchland No. 66, Rockyford, Rosalind, Rosemary, Sedgewick, Standard, Valleyview, Wabamun, Warburg, Warner No. 5, Waskateneau, Wembley and Youngstown. In Beaverlodge, Bowden, Spirit River and Viking, only elections for mayor will occur, as the entire remainder of their councils were acclaimed. And finally, Not enough candidates came forward for Kanasnaskis Improvement District, County of Forty Mile No. 8, Cowley, Hines Creek and Vauxhall.


Calgary


In both of Alberta's two major cities (Calgary and Edmonton), both incumbent mayors are running for re-election. Of the two, only the mayoral race in Calgary will be competitive as incumbent mayor Naheed Nenshi faces stiff competition from Bill Smith, the former president of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party. There are eight other candidates running for mayor, including fiscal conservative city councillor Andre Chabot, who is running in third place. 

Calgary's main mayoral candidates
Polls are split on the outcome of today's election; Mainstreet Research has consistently shown Smith ahead, with their final poll published Friday giving Smith a 13 point lead over Nenshi (52% to 39%). However, a poll conducted by Forum Research for the Canadian Municipal Election Study shows the opposite result, giving Nenshi a 17 point lead (50% to 33%). The methodologies of the two polls differ; Mainstreet was done by IVR while the Forum poll was done online from a sample drawn originally from a telephone recruit. The Forum poll was done over a longer period of time (September 28 to October 12) with a smaller sample (n=843) size compared to Mainstreet's poll of 1500 respondents done over just two days (October 10 to 11). While I have more faith in the phone-to-web methodology, the longer period of time in field raises some doubt as to the accuracy of the Forum poll. On the flip side, Mainstreet has consistently shown Smith to be leading among younger voters, which makes absolutely no sense. One thing is for sure though, municipal elections are hard to poll for, thanks to them typically having lower turnouts. The Calgary mayoral race will not only be interesting for the clash of its two front-runners, but also a clash of competing polling firms and their methodologies.

So, why could such a popular mayor potentially lose? Well, the obvious answer is Calgary is a very conservative city, but that only scratches the surface, as it has had a history of electing more moderate mayors (Nenshi's predecessor, Dave Bronconnier was a card-carrying Liberal). The big reason is the desire to have a conservative at all at some level of government in the city. After all, this is the first ever municipal election in the province while under an NDP administration. And with the much-hated Justin Trudeau's Liberals in power on a federal level, local conservatives are thirsty for a conservative municipal government, something that Nenshi does not represent. Nenshi is also seen as being an arrogant “charismatic brainiac”, as Macleans puts it, and has admitted to being “irritating” which is sure to put off more populist leaning voters.



Nenshi has been the city's mayor since 2010, when he won with an insurgent candidacy, harnessing the power of social media to engage voters with his platform, en route to winning 40% of the vote in a three-way race. His election was a big surprise, due to his more progressive politics in a city known for its conservatism. With his win, Nenshi became the first Muslim mayor of a major North American city, and in 2014 was named “World Mayor” by the City Mayors Foundation. In 2013, Nenshi was easily re-elected to the city's top post, as incumbent mayors often do in their second elections. Nenshi won 74% of the vote in his race against former Tory MLA Jon Lord, who won 21% of the vote. In his win, Nenshi won every single ward in the city. His best ward was Ward 8, which covers the inner-city area, where he won 83% of the vote. He also did very well in Ward 3 (winning 81%), which is in the city's northeast corner. This area is home to a large number of immigrants and tends to vote Liberal or NDP in provincial and federal elections (as does Ward 8). Nenshi's worst ward was Ward 10, located in the city's east end, which was also his worst ward in 2010. There, he still won 61% of the vote. Ward 10 is not the most conservative part of the city, but it is the ward of fiscally conservative councillor Andre Chabot.

2013 ward map

2017 ward map

The City of Calgary's ward map has changed for this election. The city will continue to have 14 wards, but population shifts in the city means the north half of the city will gain a ward, while the southern half of the city loses one. The north will now have the same number of councillors as the south. The most significant changes to the map came in the northeast of the corner, which sees Ward 3 move completely west of the Deerfoot Trail, which has a domino effect, as Ward 5 moves north to compensate, forcing Ward 10 to also move north, and also Ward 9.

While there is a progressive vs. conservative fight at the top of the ticket, there are several wards where there will be similar ideological battles for council seats, thanks in part to various conservatives in the city organizing to defeat progressive and moderate leaning candidates. Races to watch (with thanks to Calgary resident njall from the US Election Atlas forum):

- Ward 3 councillor Jim Stevenson is not running for re-election, opening this seat up. Polling done by the right wing advocacy group “Commons Sense Calgary” shows this as a close race between centrist Jyoti Gondek and moderate progressive Ian McAnerin.
- Thanks to the ward redistribution, Ward 5 councillor Ray Jones is running in Ward 10, which covers much of the same territory. This has created an open race in the ward. Polling suggests George Chahal has a healthy lead here, but there are a lot of undecideds in this minority-heavy ward.
- Ward 6 councillor Richard Pootmans is not running for re-election. Conservative candidate Jeff Davison has the lead in polling, with centrist Esmahan Razavi in second place.
- Ward 7 progressive-leaning incumbent Druh Farrell is in a tight race against centrist candidate Brent Alexander in this ward.
- Ward 8 progressive-leaning incumbent Evan Woolley is in a tight race against conservative-leaning candidate Chris Davis
- Ward 9 progressive-leaning incumbent Gian-Carlo Carra is in a tight race against conservative-leaning candidate Cheryl Link
- Ward 5 incumbent councillor Ray Jones, a moderate conservative is running Ward 10 where he has a decent lead with a lot of undecideds. There are 10 other candidates running against him, and all are polling in single digits.
- Another open seat is Ward 11 where Manning Institute researcher Jeromy Farkas has a decent lead in polling over a split opposition.

In all the other wards, the incumbents are conservative leaning and are though to be shoe-ins to be re-elected.


Edmonton


In contrast to the mayoral race in Calgary, the one in Edmonton is sure to be a snoozer. You see, mayor Don Iveson is on his second election, which usually means a cake-walk election for incumbent mayors. And that is exactly what he is about to get. Iveson faces no serious challengers, and polling backs this up. Mainstreet's latest poll has him winning leading with 46%, 39 points ahead of his nearest rival, perennial candidate (and former Wildrose candidate) Don Koziak, who was at 7%. 35% of people are undecided, but I have a feeling many of those people will not even vote. A poll conducted by Leger conducted a couple of weeks ago showed a near-identical result, with Iveson leading over Koziak (45% to 7%). In addition to Iveson and Koziak, there are 11 other candidates running for mayor.

Edmonton's two main mayoral candidates

The 2013 mayoral election in Edmonton was supposed to be a three-way race, but Iveson, a two-term city councillor was easily elected with 62% of the vote, defeating former Liberal MLA Karen Leibovici who won 19% of the vote and councillor (now Conservative MP) Kerry Diotte, who won 15% of the vote. Iveson's best ward was Ward 8, which covers the Strathcona part of the city, an area that regularly votes NDP in provincial and federal elections, and is easily the most left wing part of the city. There, he won 70% of the vote. Iveson's worst ward was Ward 1, which covers West Edmonton, an area where Leibovici represented when she was an MLA.



With the race for mayor being all but decided, the real races in the city will be for the city's 12 council seats. Like Calgary, Edmonton saw its ward boundaries change, but they were much more minor in scope. The most significant change was between the borders of wards 9 and 10 and between wards 11 and 12, to account for the growing suburbs in the south end of the city. Ward 10 gains the neighbourhoods of Twin Brooks, Blackburne, Blackmud Creek, Cashman, Cavanagh, Callaghan and Allard from Ward 9, while Ward 12 gains the neighbourhoods of Minchau, Weinlos, Bisset, Pollard Meadows, Daily Grove and Crawford Plains from Ward 11.

2013 ward map

2017 ward map


According to political scientist John Brennan, these are the city council races to watch in Edmonton:

- Ward 3 incumbent Dave Loken has had the support of mayor Don Iveson, which is a rarity in municipal politics. He is being challenged by a number of strong candidates, which might divide his opposition in the ward.
- Ward 4 is an open race with former Liberal MLA Ed Gibbons deciding to not run for re-election. Brennan believes the main candidates will be Rocco Caterina (son of councillor Tony Caterina, a Tory), New Democrat Aaron Paquette, public servant Alison Poste and Tricia Velthuizen, a research analyst for the new United Conservative Party.
- Ward 5 is another open race with incumbent Michael Oshry not running for re-election. The race will be between four main candidates, businesswoman Sarah Hamilton who was endorsed by former mayor Stephen Mandel, a Tory; Dawn Newton an active member of the Women's Advocacy Voice of Edmonton; Miranda Jimmy, an indigenous woman who is the program manager of the Edmonton Heritage Council; and David Xiao, the former PC MLA for Edmonton-McClung, which covers part of this ward.
- Ward 6 incumbent Scott McKeen, a former columnist for the Edmonton Journal may see a challenge from businessman Tish Prouse who lost his bid in Ward 7 in 2013 and from another businessman, Bill Knight.
- Ward 7 will see Tory incumbent Tony Caterina face off against two progressive opponents who may split the vote: Kris Andreychuk, the city's supervisor of public safety and Mimi Williams, a perennial candidate and activist who received the endorsement form the Edmonton and District Labour Council.
- Ward 8 is home to the city's most left wing city councillor, Ben Henderson. He is facing off against two other centre-left candidates, James Kosowan and Kristen Goa, both New Democrats.
- Ward 9 is an open seat, thanks to incumbent councillor Bryan Anderson not running for re-election. Brennan sees this race as being between engineer Tim Cartmell and physician Rob Agostinis. Cartmell has the endorsement of Anderson, and a former Tory MLA, while Agostinis has the endorsement of the Edmonton and District Labour Council.


Red Deer


With over 100,000 people, Red Deer is now the third largest municipality in the province, having passed Strathcona County in the last census. It is also the largest municipality in the province without a municipal ward structure. All eight city councillors are elected on an at-large basis; Each voter in the city votes for eight councillors, and the eight candidates with the most votes are elected. In 2013, voters had a chance to change that in a plebiscite which asked voters whether or not they would like to have a ward system in place, but voters overwhelmingly opposed the measure, with just 28% of voters supporting the idea. 

Red Deer mayoral candidates

The race for mayor of Red Deer is between incumbent mayor Tara Veer and Sean Burke, who is owns a digital advertising provider business. Veer, who had been a city councillor was elected as mayor of the city in 2013, defeating fellow councillor Cindy Jefferies in a narrow 46% to 39% victory. This time it is unlikely to be as close. Her main challenger is focusing on social issues such as homelessness, and is an admitted recovering crystal meth addict, which may not fly well in this conservative city. Veer for her part is more conservative leaning, having worked for a Conservative MP in the past. 


Red Deer polling division map used in 2013

In the 2013 election, Veer won all but four of the polling divisions in the city, getting her best results in the city's more conservative, newer suburbs. Her best polling station covers the Clearview Ridge area in the city's northeast, where she won 58% of the vote. Jeffries appealed more to voters in the more left leaning central part of the city, where she won the remaining four polling divisions. She won a majority of votes in just poll, an area th
at covers the Downtown part of the city, where she won 54% of the vote.

Many thanks to the City of Red Deer's election office which sent me last election's poll division map, which could not be found on the web.


Strathcona County


The fourth largest municipality in Alberta is Strathcona County, a “specialized municipality” mainly consisting of the Hamlet of Sherwood Park, a large suburb on Edmonton's eastern fringe. Over 70% of the county's residents live in Sherwood Park, which is otherwise unincorporated. From Edmonton, the county runs north to Fort Saskatchewan and the North Saskatchewan River, east to Elk Island National Park, and south past Cooking Lake. The county elects a mayor, and eight councillors, one from each of the county's eight wards. Five of the wards are located in Sherwood Park, and the remaining three represent the more rural parts of the municipality. 

 
Strathcona County's main mayoral candidates

The race for mayor of Strathcona County will be an interesting one, as there are four credible candidates, three of which have some sort of partisan background. The only one who doesn't is the incumbent mayor, Roxanne Carr, who is nonetheless conservative enough to be the mayor of an Alberta suburb. Before becoming mayor in 2013, Carr sat on County council, representing Ward 2, which covers the north-central part of Sherwood Park. In addition to her, the other candidates are:
-Former PC MLA Jacquie Fenske, who represented the rural northern part of Strathcona County when she represented the riding of Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville from 2012 to 2015. She was previously a county councillor, representing Ward 5, which covered that same rural northern part of the county.
- Former mayor Linda Osinchuk, who was mayor from 2010 to 2013 when she was defeated by Carr in a very close two-way race. Since her defeat, Osinchuk ran in the 2015 election for the Wildrose Party in the riding of Sherwood Park, finishing in third place. Interestingly, the woman she beat to become mayor in 2010 (Cathy Olesen) was her PC opponent in 2015, who finished in second place behind the NDP. Before becoming mayor, Osinchuk represented Ward 3 on County council, which covers the south-central part of Sherwood Park.
- Rod Frank, who was the Liberal candidate in the 2015 federal election in Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, coming in 2nd place behind the Conservative candidate, winning 20% of the vote. Interestingly, Frank is eschewing the fact he ran as a Liberal, and claims to have run as a “fiscal conservative and social progressive”, which doesn't really describe the 2015 Liberal Party platform in my opinion.
- Finally the candidate who will likely place last is David Dixon, who is running on the more progressive platform of the five candidates. His past political experience includes running for mayor of the District of North Vancouver in 2005, where he placed last with 6% of the vote.



The 2013 election saw an interesting divide in the County, and was only possible due to the sheer closeness of the result. Carr defeated Osinchuk by fewer than 500 votes, winning 51% to Osinchuk's 49%. The divide was not urban vs. rural as one might expect, but rather north vs. south. Carr, who represented a ward in northern Sherwood Park as councillor, won the five more northerly wards in the county, while Osinchuk, who represented a ward in southern Sherwood Park when she was a councillor, won that one ward in Sherwood Park and the two southerly rural wards. Carr's top ward was Ward 2 (59%), where she was the councillor and Osinchuk's best ward was Ward 6 (54%) in the rural southwest. 

Strathcona County's ward map

The 2017 ward map will be nearly identical to the 2013 map, save for a minor border change between Wards 3 and 6.


Lethbridge


Lethbridge is Alberta's fourth largest city, and just like Red Deer, it has no wards, electing its eight councillors on an at-large basis. The Lethbridge mayoral race will be between incumbent mayor Chris Spearman, University of Lethbridge student and Indigenous activist Martin Heavy Head and perennial council candidate Bob Janzen. Spearman was first elected as mayor in 2013, defeating three other candidates. Prior to that he was a businessman and had also run in the 2010 mayoral election, narrowly losing. He will likely win re-election, as his opponents are not as strong. His main opponent will likely be Heavy Head, who became the first Indigenous person to run for Lethbridge City Council in 2013, winning over 4000 votes, 1700 behind the eight place spot needed to be elected. Janzen has also run for council in the past, winning 1572 votes in 2004 and 938 votes in 2010.

Lethbridge's main mayoral candidates
The 2013 race in Lethbridge saw Spearman elected mayor with 46% of the vote. His next closest rival was city councillor Bridget Mearns, who had worked for a number of conservative politicians in the past. In total, she won 30% of the vote, 3800 votes behind Spearman. Spearman won every polling division in the city, but none of them with the majority of votes. His support was very evenly distributed, winning 49% of the vote in his best poll (which covers the Copperwood neighbourhood in the southwest of the city) and winning 42% of the vote in his worst poll, which covers the Downtown area of the city. His support was slightly better in the more conservative suburbs of the city, and worse in the left leaning inner-city.

Lethbridge polling division map used in 2013


 

Wood Buffalo


Up in the northeast corner of the province is the sprawling Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, home to Fort McMurray and not much else (just a number of small villages). Wood Buffalo happens to be the fourth largest municipality in the country in terms of geographic area. As it is home to a large non-permanent population, and due to a giant Wildfire that ravaged Fort McMurray at the time of the 2016 census, it is hard to gauge exactly how many people live in the municipality. Some estimates have the population being over 100,000, but the census reported 72000 people in the 62000 sq. km municipality, 67000 of those 72000 live(d) in Fort McMurray.

Wood Buffalo Municipal Council is elected via a ward system. The municipality has four wards; Ward 1 covers Fort McMurray and elects six at-large councillors. Ward 2 covers the northern two thirds of the municipality, and elects two at-large councillors. Wards 3 and 4 in the south elect one councillor each. Representation on council does not accurately reflect population; despite over 90% of the municipality's population living in Fort McMurray, its weight on council is only 60%.

Long time mayor Melissa Blake will not be running for re-election, making the race for mayor an open one for the first time since 2004. The candidates to replace her are realtor Allan Grandison, ward 3 councillor Allan Vinni, helicopter pilot Anthony Needham and former Tory MLA Don Scott, who represented the riding of Fort McMurray-Conklin from 2012 to 2015.

Wood Buffalo ward map

St. Albert


St. Albert is a suburb of Edmonton, home to 65,000 people. Its mayor, Nolan Crouse, is retiring after 10 years as mayor. He had decided to run for the provincial Liberal Party's leadership earlier this year, but dropped out after just two days. The race to replace him is between incumbent councillors Cathy Heron and Cam Mackay and former councillor Malcolm Parker. According to Dave Cournoyer's blog, the race has been divisive, as is apparently the norm in the city. On council, voters will elect six at-large councillors.


Medicine Hat


In southeastern Alberta is the province's sixth largest city of Medicine Hat. Its mayor, Ted Clugston is running for re-election after first being elected mayor in 2013. There are three candidates running against Clugston; former alderman (councillor) John Hamill, local broadcaster and teacher Scott Raible and Thomas “Tall Bike Tommy” Fougere, a local outspoken vlogger. On council, voters will elect eight at-large councillors.


Grande Prairie


In northwestern Alberta is the province's seventh largest city of Grande Prarie. Its mayor, Bill Given is running for re-election for the second time, after first being elected in 2010. Running against him is Grande Prairie Petroleum Association member Dick Baillie, Theodore Nikiforuk and Rony Rajput, who has technically dropped out of the race due to finding out he technically lives outside of the city, but will still appear on the ballot. On council, voters will elect eight at-large councillors.


Airdrie


Airdrie, an exurb of Calgary, is the fastest growing city in the province, growing from 43,000 to 62,000 people between the last two censuses. Last election saw its incumbent mayor, Peter Brown re-elected with no opposition, after first being elected in 2010 when the city was nearly half of its current size. This time around he is facing competition from four candidates. Brown will face some stiff competition from his deputy mayor, Fred Burley as well as volunteer Marie Lauer, senior manager Blaine Astra and retired businessman Bernie Biever. On council, voters will elect six at-large councillors.


Rocky View County


Rocky View County is a rural municipal district that surrounds the City of Calgary on its west, north and east sides, fully surrounding the City of Airdrie, and other exurban Calgary municipalities as well. It is the largest municipality in the province without a direct election for mayor. In fact, Rocky View doesn't have a mayor, it has a reeve, and he or she will be chosen from among the County's council following the election. The county is divided into 9 divisions, each electing one councillor. Incumbent reeve Greg Boehilke represents Division 6, located in the northeast corner of the county, and is running for re-election there against John McMurray. 

Rocky View County division map


There are of course many other races across the province, but those are the ones in the 11 largest municipalities. Polls will be closing at 8pm Mountain Time, which is 10pm Eastern.