Surprises, Results, Smart Guys and Humility

by David Biltek

So where to start?

Results, you can get the results here: City Election Results or from this INFOGRAPHIC produced by 9-10 and Richard Podsada


I am going to look at some of the surprises and then offer some general comments

But first, I have been politically involved since high school, through University and in Provincial, Federal, and City, serving here as an Alderman, as we were called at the time, for nine years and through this I have always admired people who seek public office. It is  always a challenge, it is always hard on family, it does expose you, and many people feel you are now a punching bag. Many run because of  real desire to serve, others run for hope of gain, financial, prestige, or to satisfy some unfulfilled needs. But in the end I respect them for so doing but it also means that I will engage them in vigorous debate and may criticize them for positions taken, which is fair and part of the process.

But before continue I want to single out Lorne Radbourne who dedicated his win last night to his dad: Ernie Radbourne, a very touching and emotional moment in an always emotional time. 


Justin Munroe, to me the biggest surprise of the evening, yes I was impressed with Chris Thiessen’s second place showing , but frankly I did expect him to place in top 8, Justin I did not expect to place 10th. Justin was a solid Councillor, did his homework, and provided thoughtful contributions to the debates. What more could you ask?  Well presence for one. Many people last night at election parties said that Justin was simply not at enough community events as Councillor. Given and O’Toole for example went to everything, sometimes Bill Given with his new born in his arms, but he was there and people appreciated that their MAYOR was there, same is true for O’Toole. That is the only explanation I can offer and the one that makes most sense.

Justin , Thank you for your contribution, and thanks also to his wife Fiona and family. I am sure we will see you again in public life.

Second, Chris Thiessen. Many of us felt after the forum, he would do well, but placing second after veteran Radbourne, was a huge victory and a big leap from 9th place finish in 2010. As well Chris is the winner of the MOST EFFICIENT CAMPAIGN AWARD, well in line with his environmental bent. He spent only $989 on his campaign, his budget was $999, and  he earned 4558 votes so his votes “cost” him $.22 each. Now that is  real FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY in action, and not just a meaningless slogan

To put that in perspective Given’s votes cost him about $3.75 each. Blackmore on the other hand likely saw her votes cost her close to $20.00 each. That is based on my guess that she spent at least $45,000 and may have spent as much as $70,000, which was her “ideal” budget. By the way Iveson in Edmonton spent about $800,000 to $900,000 while unsuccessful Lebovici spent over $1,000,000, so $70,000 here would be in line.

As for the rest of Council I think most of us expected Radbourne, Rice, Clayton, O’Toole and Logan would all be elected. Although many did not think Logan would do as well, however as does Kevin McLean who placed 7th, both men have a base of support that comes out for them for each election, so does Croken, but this time out it was just not enough.

Tarant was successful, much as I thought. His speech at the Forum put him on the trajectory to succeed, but it was his post about the 55 year old woman who was voting for first time that sent that trajectory into victory. However he along with MacDougall, Mclean, Croken were all on “the bubble” as I suggested with only 400 votes separating 7th and 11th places, much like 2010.

The Mayor results?

No I was not overly surprised. in an earlier post on the first poll results in this blog which saw her with about 20% support I said that she would do better than that, and she did but clearly not enough. Her campaign theme, “Say NO to Higher Taxes”, simply did not resonate with people.

Why? Positioning requires an opposite to be real, no one is going to explicitly say YES to Higher Taxes, so you cannot successfully “position” yourself unless there is an opposite position and an “enemy”. That is why “Fiscally Responsible” is not a good positioning statement, no one is going to claim to be fiscally irresponsible!

see related articles: Iveson’s Win a Vote for Optimism and Smart Planning

  Nenshi, Iveson wins show powerful winds of change in Alberta

Reasons why the rest of Canada is Jealous of Alberta, and no not just about Rob Ford, but he is mentioned


Okay so it was low, 20.95%. It has ALWAYS been low. In the last 40 years the highest I can recall is about 30%. It is low all over Alberta, and yes we may be among the lowest, Fort MacMurray is lower in 2010 I think it was about 10% and therein may be the clue, as a friend says about Grande Prairie and Ft Mac: ” lots of boomers, not enough stickers” People who are just here for a good time and the money and not a long time, have little interest in the election. There is no point beating up people, and here I am going to quote always, well mostly right on, Dean Radbourne:

After this I am going to do my absolute best to stay out of every “voter apathy/voter turnout/voter right” discussion today. Comments on both sides of this are absolutely insane and driving me bonkers. Browbeating people into voting is ridiculous. Saying that “voting is stupid” is ridiculous. Saying you’re “embarrassed” about low voter turnout is a bit melodramatic. Saying that you couldn’t find any information on the candidates and that none of them worked hard at getting their message out makes me want to punch you in the throat. What’s better, a 20% voter turnout and electing a pretty strong and exciting council, or an 80% voter turnout because the previous guys drove this sucker into the ground and total overhaul of everything is needed? Ask Australia how they like their mandatory voting and now nearly impossible it is for newcomers to beat incumbents (regardless of the job they’ve been doing). I think our voter turnout was too low.”

Provincial Trends

Iveson, Nenshi, Given….all under 40 and what else do these people have in common? They are all SMART and Progressive, not formally aligned to a major political party, smart as in technologically aware, innovative, willing in fact eager to look at and try new policy approaches. These guys will have a huge impact on life in Alberta, and they will together and individually challenge the Provincial Government. “Allison in Wonderland”, be forewarned, these guys will have huge influence.

I pointed out in a post a few days ago there was a “youth” movement, and here is the strongest proof. Add to this group the new Mayor in Red Deer, who is also under 40 and new City Councillor in Edmonton, Michael Walters, a good friend of Bill Givens by the way, and also a SMART young guy…these are the people who will make a difference in Alberta and in their communities.

Also watch for Helen Rice as she runs for President of Alberta Municipalities Association. This would greatly benefit Grande Prairie and Helen along with the growing influence of Bill Given on the provincial scene.


Many of the successful candidates said in post election statements that they were humbled by the support they received, or words to that effect. Remember from time to time over the next four years that you were humbled, remain so, and recall from time to time the person you were that got you here, and never forget that sense of enthusiasm, wonder, commitment and humility, it will serve you better than almost anything else you will do.

Congratulations to all the successful candidates and thank you to all who ran, worked so hard and especially their supporters and families who also”ran” but mostly in anxious silence.