What does Nenshi’s re-election signify? PT readers may have some thoughts.
From the Globe:
Naheed Nenshi has secured his third term in Calgary, fending off a more conservative challenger who came close to unseating the once-politically unassailable mayor of Alberta’s largest city.
Mr. Nenshi, 45, won against lawyer Bill Smith with about 51 per cent of the vote according to unofficial results late Monday night – a far cry from the 74 per cent support that Mr. Nenshi saw in the 2013 election. …
Mr. Smith still received about 44 per cent of the vote, but Mr. Nenshi’s win is a repudiation of those who believed Alberta’s conservatives – stung by the existence of an NDP government in Edmonton and a Liberal government in Ottawa – were poised to use the municipal election to help stage a comeback. …
The Harvard-educated son of immigrants, (Nenshi) worked around-the-clock the weeks during and after the 2013 floods, and has made issues such as public transit and housing hallmarks of his time in office. But he has gained a strong cohort of critics in recent years, and in recent weeks some polls had shown Mr. Smith’s campaign, with its focus on freezing municipal workers’ salaries and cutting city taxes, gathering steam.
The race was also affected by factors outside the realm of municipal politics. Both Mr. Nenshi and Mr. Smith said they often heard complaints while knocking on doors or meeting with business owners about policies originating in Edmonton or Ottawa – including Alberta’s carbon tax and plans to move to a $15 per hour minimum wage, or proposed federal changes to business tax laws.
Mr. Nenshi has significant challenges ahead as he continues on as mayor. He and his council have to grapple with a massive hole in the city’s budget as office vacancies stay stubbornly high. Mr. Nenshi has said he will carry over a $45 million program that shields remaining city businesses from the full brunt of tax increases that could come from a partially empty downtown core.
He will also carry the weight of a fraught relationship with the city’s professional hockey team. …
Mr. Smith had worked to capitalize on the perception in some quarters that Mr. Nenshi is quick to upbraid those who don’t agree with him. Some of the political opposition to Mr. Nenshi can be traced back two years to opposition to a rapid-transit plan, including the construction of bus lanes, from well-organized residents in the southwest of the city. Others criticize Mr. Nenshi’s blunt-speak in lambasting political opponents from the chief executive of Uber to local developers. Mr. Smith’s campaign said property taxes “skyrocketed” by 51 per cent during Mr. Nenshi’s time in office.