Yesterday, the City of Lethbridge released their official candidate list. Candidates had to file by noon on Monday, but then had until noon yesterday to change their minds.
We ended up with 6 candidates for mayor and 32 candidates for city council. I have a few thoughts on the candidates, but let me list them all here first.
- Sheldon Day Chief
- Gary Klassen
- Kolton Menzak
- Blaine Hyggen
- Bridget Mearns
- Stephen Mogdan
Candidates in italics are incumbents.
- Kelti Baird
- Mark Campbell
- Ben Christensen
- Rajko Dodic
- Jerry Firth
- Zachary Hampton
- Ryan Lepko
- Shelby MacLeod
- John Middleton-Hope
- Ryan Parker
- Michael Petrakis
- Chris Rowley
- Jenn Schmidt-Rempel
- Boyd Thomas
- Robin Walker
- Davey Wiggers
- Marissa Black
- Jeff Carlson
- Belinda Crowson
- Rufa Doria
- Bill Ginther
- Dale Leier
- Darcy Logan
- Bernie Mbonihankuye
- Nick Paladino
- Harold Pereverseff
- Jenn Prosser
- Wally Schenk
- Suketu Shah
- Tim Vanderbeek
- Bradley Whalen
- Ryan Wolfe
So, the first thing that’s interesting is that only 4 incumbents are running: 2 long-time and 2 1-term.
|Incumbent||First elected||Terms||Place in 2017|
Jeffrey Coffman, Joe Mauro, and Rob Miyashiro have all stepped down, and Blaine Hyggen is running for the mayor’s seat. That opens up 4 vacancies on city council this year.
This will be the most vacancies in a Lethbridge municipal election since at least 1998.
And there are a lot of people willing to compete for those vacancies. There are 28 non-incumbent candidates vying for those 4 seats (or more if they think they can unseat any of the incumbents, 3 of which were among the 4 most popular in 2017).
As I predicted earlier this year, there is always a large slate of candidates when a mayor steps down.
When David Carpenter stepped down in 2001, 35 people ran for a seat on city council. When Bob Tarleck stepped down in 2010, there were 30. And when Rajko Dodic stepped down in 2013, there were 31.
Every other election since 1998 has seen fewer than 30.
Among those running this time around, a few names stand out as ones to watch.
Rajko Dodic is a former mayor. He served only one term as mayor, a position he barely won, by less than a percentage point. He also served two terms as city councillor. He got 5th place in 2004 and 4th in 2007. He has strong name recognition, especially among long-term residents, who remember his name plastered on the back of every phone book each year.
Nick Paladino came in 10th place in the last municipal election, just two spots away from winning a seat. With 4 seats empty, he stands a pretty good shot at one of them. He’s been working as a planning manager with Lethbridge County for the last 30 years.
Harold Pereverseff is running in his third municipal election, having come in 17th place in 2013 and 12th place in 2017. He also has a lot of public sector experience, having worked for several decades at Canada Revenue Agency. He is a board member of the Lethbridge Transparency Council.
Bill Ginther is also running for his second election, having run in 2017, but placing 20th. He runs the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen.
This is the second election campaign for Davey Wiggers, too, who also ran in 2017, but coming in 24th. He is the one of the vice-presidents of the UCP Lethbridge West Constituency Association.
The 2021 election will be John Middleton-Hope’s first foray into Lethbridge municipal politics, but his 4-year term as the Lethbridge police chief might be attractive to voters who feel that Lethbridge has been overrun with criminals.
Jenn Prosser is also new to municipal politics, but she’s veteran when it comes to politics generally, having worked on multiple NDP campaigns, provincially and federally, including as national campaign director for Niki Ashton’s 2017 bid for the NDP leadership. She’s also a member of the local NDP electoral division association. Her solid campaigning experience and vast support network may come in handy this election.
Remember, just because I think these are candidate to watch doesn’t mean I endorse them.
As far as the mayoral race goes, two of the candidates—Hyggen and Mearns—were among the possibilities I suggested shortly after Chris Spearman announced that he’d be stepping down.
Until nomination day, there had been 7 candidates who had announced intention to run for the mayoral seat, but Keean Lehtinen for some reason, never showed up on Monday to finalize his bid.
I predict that when it comes to the mayorship, it’ll be a race between Hyggen and Mearns, which I outlined shortly after Mearns announced, with Mogdan in a respectable third place showing.
At 6 candidates, this is tied for the highest number of candidates (2010 also had 6) in a Lethbridge municipal election since at least 1998.