Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Interview With Ward 12 Aldermanic Candidate Benjamin Sim

This is a continuation of a series of interviews that I will post about local candidates that are running in the 2010 Calgary municipal election. I do not endorse any of the candidates necessarily, unless stated otherwise. The intent is to allow the candidates a forum in which they can share some of their views.

This interview is with Ben Sim, who will be running for Alderman in Ward 12 this term.

I am a resident of Ward 12 and a potential voter.  What do you think is the biggest issue facing the voters of this ward?

BS:   Biggest issue – Transportation.  Ward 12 has only one real outlet and that is Deerfoot Trail. Any problems on Deerfoot and residents have little options. I would work to have 24 st to Glenmore completed, complete 52 street to Glenmore. ( down to one lane in both directions and no overpass over rail line) and work with provincial government to improve the roadway after the bridge over the Bow River on Deerfoot Trail.  Reduces down to 2 lanes causing major traffic delays. Also we must get LRT to the S.E.

Many people feel that there is a lot of dysfunction with the current council.  If elected, what would you do to rectify this?

BS:    I would work to have council control spending in all city departments. I believe this can be done without cutting services. Have an independent audit for all departments and act on their recommendations.

Tell me why you would make a better Alderman than your opponents? What candidate will be the hardest to beat in Ward 12?

BS:     I have lived in Calgary all my life and have seen this City grow into the vibrant City it is today. I have worked for the citizens of Calgary for over 30 years. During that time I feel I have been a strong leader and have learned to make educated decisions. I have also learned to delegate duties to those around me who are most qualified to get the job done correctly. I would actually read city department budgets and act on areas where I feel we need to to best serve the residents of ward 12 and all of Calgary.  Control spending and renew trust in our elected officials. “Honesty”

In your opinion, what is the biggest mistake that Alderman McIver has made as Ward 12 Alderman?

BS:  The transportation issues in ward 12 and safe voting.

Did the decision of Ward 12 Alderman Ric McIver to run Mayor have any impact on your decision to run in this election?  Would you have run against Ric McIver if he was still on the ballot? 

BS: Yes.  Calgary has a record of not voting out incumbents.

With no incumbent in the riding, are you finding it easy to fund raise and find volunteers? Is every candidate on a level playing field?

BS:     My stand is that I have taken no donations. Perhaps this will hurt my chances of getting elected but that is my stand and I will live with it.  I feel that we all start on a level playing field but those that spend the most do get an advantage which does not always mean the best person getting elected. Unfortunate but true.

On your website, you highlight that you would like to "Work to pass legislation to ban the use of all cell phones while operating a motor vehicle and 2) Promote mandatory sentences for major criminal offences." How do you plan do to this on City Council?

BS:    Cell phone legislation – I would work with the provincial government to pass legislation for all of Alberta. If this doesn’t work I will work to pass a city by-law to ban the use of cell phones while operating a  motor vehicle within the city limits but feel it should be a provincial law if not a federal law.  Minimum sentences. I will admit I will have to educate myself on how to go about this as a member of city council but I am sure that we as council members can exert pressure on provincial and federal law makers to make this happen.

For more information on Ben, check out his website at


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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Thoughts On The Mayoralty Forum

 I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the Mayoralty Forum held today at Stampede Park, along with fellow blogger DJ Kelly.  The forum was attended by a packed house made up of representatives from Calgary's building and development industry and it was a well run affair.

 The eight mayoralty candidates in attendance were:  Ric McIver, Joe Connelly, Jon Lord, Barb Higgins, Craig Burrows, Naheed Nenshi, Wayne Stewart and Bob Hawkesworth.  Perennial candidate ( and party crasher) Oscar Fech was also in attendance and while he tried to squeeze in on the forum, he was not part of the proceedings. ( Moderator Ken King explained that these eight candidates were invited as they completed a pre-forum questionnaire.)

 While the forum was well run and went by rather quickly, there really was no "earth shattering" quotes.  Most of the candidates stuck to their positions and the central theme centered around such buzzwords as "getting it right", "creating a level playing field", "streamlining the approval process" and "supporting consumers choice in having the options to purchase a single family, detached dwelling".  There seemed to be a lot of generic answers given and all candidates tended to stay on script.

  There were a few good lines at the forum, including the following:

1) Burrows tried to trip Barb Higgins up by asking her to give a specific answer where council can work with the development industry in solving some inner city growth. Barb used a potential development in Manchester as an example, and fared well with the unexpected shot.

2) Jon Lord asked Naheed Nenshi if he was mayor, does he believe that the inner city homes in Kensington and Cliff Bungalow should be replaced with high rise towers?  Nenshi jokingly responded "wouldn't it be nice if I said yes!" to a roaring laughter.  He then explained his position and took away any points that Jon Lord was trying to steal.

3) Barb Higgins took a shot at McIver when she said that with 25 years experience as a journalist, she knows what questions need to be asked, and then took a shot at McIver by asking him why he never asked the "tough questions" when he was on the audit committee?  Ric candidly responded by stating that he is not "applying to run a TV station, but that he is running for Mayor of Calgary and that he has been asking tough questions for over nine years on council! 

I had a great time at the forum and was glad that I was invited to attend.  I was amazed at the speed in which DK Kelly was doing his live tweeting from the event, as the answers were fast and furious.

Here is a classic shot of a media scrum following the event.  Ric McIver is on the right....poor Bob Hawkesworth is on the left.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Interview with Calgary Ward 12 Alderman Candidate Rory Rotzoll

This is a continuation of a series of interviews that I will post about local candidates that are running in the 2010 Calgary municipal election. I do not endorse any of the candidates necessarily, unless stated otherwise. The intent is to allow the candidates a forum in which they can share some of their views.

This interview is with Rory Rotzoll, who will be running for Alderman in Ward 12 this term. Rory actually moved into the house next to me a few months ago, but we have not had the chance to talk politics at all.  After taking a look at the responses below, I find it refreshing that someone finally answers some of these questions without sidestepping them!  These are pretty bold and honest responses in my opinion.

I am a resident of Ward 12 and a potential voter. What do you think is the biggest issue facing the voters of this ward?

RR;  The issues that face this Ward are as diverse and complex as the Ward itself. Primarily the people that I have talked to regard Transportation, Schools and Recreation of the utmost importance. specifically Access or lack of access to these. Transportation (public and commuter) for many working people in this Ward means a lengthy commute or a difficult and lengthy ride on a bus to the LRT. School boards haven't got enough resources to build the quantity of schools necessary for the children in this Ward which then means an early rise and long commute for many young kids in order to get them to school.

Even with the Seton Recreation facility being built our Ward is still sorely lacking in quality facilities for family recreation.

Many people feel that there is a lot of dysfunction with the current council. If elected, what would you do to rectify this?

 RR:  I believe that in order to get things done any group of people must learn to work together. the last 3 years specifically have seen so much posturing and backstabbing at city hall it is a wonder anything was completed. I would work with my fellow aldermen to bring forth ideas as a group. Ideas that benefit all of Calgary as well as my Ward. I would work to sell my ideas to other aldermen so that I knew I had support or could change things before bringing it up for a lengthy debate.

Tell me why you would make a better Alderman than your opponents? What candidate will be the hardest to beat in Ward 12?

RR: I am the best choice for this Ward because I don't bring baggage to the job. My experience as a Realtor and in the building supply industry gives me specific insights into our Ward's issues, uniquely qualifying me to help rectify these at City Hall. My Age also gives me a perspective that no other candidate has. I also am raising a family in this Ward, this is where my wife and I chose to raise our newborn twins, This also gives me a viewpoint that no other candidate has. There are some candidates in this ward that certainly have more money and have made a show of that but I would like to believe that I will be the hardest to beat.

 In your opinion, what is the biggest mistake that Alderman McIver has made as Ward 12 Alderman?

RR: Alderman McIver has been a force to reckon with in council. This certainly put him in the public eye, however, issues in ward 12 such as the Shepard Area, Race City, the landfill, Ring road, and lack of
adequate infrastructure (primarily Public Transportation ) are issues that seem very neglected if not forgotten about altogether.

Did the decision of Ward 12 Alderman Ric McIver to run Mayor have any impact on your decision to run in this election? Would you have run against Ric McIver if he was still on the ballot?

RR: It was apparent to me that Ric McIver should run for Mayor especially after Dave Bronconnier decided not to, so that certainly created an opportunity that wasn't their before. If Mr. McIver had chosen not to
run I still would have run in this election against him.

With no incumbent in the riding, are you finding it easy to fundraise and find volunteers? Is every candidate on a level playing field?

RR: Fundraising and finding volunteers is difficult for anyone not established in the political scene.

Thank you

Rory Rotzoll

"Uncommon Sense"

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ralph Klein's Bar Shrine in San Francisco

 While on holidays in San Francisco last week, I was tipped off on twitter by Ward 11 Alderman candidate Wayne Frisch to check out a very unusual wall shrine in a local pub.  The pub in question, The Gold Dust, has been around since the 1930's and is on the corner of Geary and Powell Streets in Union Square.  This old watering hole is popular and looks like it has not changed since the 1960's.  As this bar was right on the corner of my hotel, and being a huge fan of Ralph,  I thought I would check out the tip and see what this place had in store. 

 I could not believe my eyes!

A plaque from the Premier's Grey Cup Luncheon 1993                              1989 Stanley Cup Rally


The "Klein Shrine" is located in a booth at the back of the building in a prime location!  The Americans that were at the table were laughing at my stories about Ralph and wished they had such a colourful character as Governor or Mayor.  Most Albertans have heard different stories about the Honorable former Premier and his legendary pub stories, but this takes the cake for me.  The fact that Ralph has a shrine set up in a foreign pub is totally unreal!


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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This Blogger Had A Blast In High Heels! YWCA Walk A Mile In Her Shoes Event

  Most people realize that I love to try and give back to local charities in any way that I can.  That said, I often find myself in interesting events and circumstances and yesterday's YWCA Walk A Mile In Her Shoes event definitely took me out of my comfort zone, so to speak!

  This event was amazing fun and over 200 men participated in the walk to raise money and awareness for domestic violence issues in Calgary.  I was fortunate enough to take part in this walk and I must say, I really do knot understand how some women wear these shoes every day!  I had a super sexy "wedge" shoe on, and while I hear I got off lucky compared to a 6 inch stiletto heel, my feet were killing me by the end of the walk! 

 Here is some video....

 My goal was to raise $750 for the YWCA and I was also very fortunate to be able to raise close to $1100 for this great charity and I want to thank everyone that donated.  My co-workers, friends and family were a great support and I was also amazed by the response on Twitter where I did most of my fundraising!  I received some interesting donations from local politicians including:

  •  MLA Art Johnston
  • MLA Jonathon Denis
  • Mayoral candidate Barb Higgins
  • Ward 7 Alderman candidate Kevin Taylor
  • Ward 11 Alderman candidate, Brian Pincott
  • Ward 14 Alderman candidate, Shawn Kao
Thanks again to everyone that donated and came to cheer me on! I look forward to doing this again next year. Hopefully my feet will have healed by then! 

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Monday, September 6, 2010

How Many Calgary Municipal Election Candidates Will Get The Nomination Day Blues?

 Anyone that is actively following the 2010 Calgary Municipal Election scene should be getting excited that the races for Alderman, Mayor and School Board Trustee are about to become official!  With nomination day fast approaching, the race is also on for some of the candidates to get their paperwork in order in advance of the September 20, 2010 deadline. 

The 2010 election is expected to include the most candidates that Calgary has ever seen and some of the races are becoming more and more crowded every day, which is a good thing for local democracy.  While I believe that everyone has a democratic right to run for office and respect those who put their names forward for this election, I wonder how many of these candidates will actually be on the ballots after nomination day.  I took a look at the City of Calgary website for more information on the nomination requirements, which I have summarized below:

Required Signatures

All candidates must be nominated by eligible electors. The required number of signatures are:

  • Mayor - 100 Signatures

  • Alderman - 100 Signatures

  • School Trustee - 25 Signatures

If running for Alderman, and/or Public or Separate School Trustee the eligible electors, signing your nomination papers, must live in the ward in which you are running . If running for Mayor the signators must be eligible electors living within the boundaries of the City of Calgary.

Nomination Papers must be accompanied by a deposit of:

  • Mayor - $500.00

  • Alderman - $100.00

  • School Trustee - $100.00

   In my opinion, these requirements are not overly restrictive and are necessary to keep the election somewhat orderly.  That said, I do wonder how many candidates will actually be willing and able to obtain the required signatures and deposit money!  Seriously though, if any candidate  finds themselves having a hard time raising the money and finding 100 people to sign your papers, perhaps they may reconsider their run for office? 

  So why would some candidates declare early in the year and then decide to back out in September?  The answers ( or excuses) are varied, but will likely include the standard " I need to spend more time with my family", "I do not have the financial support to run the campaign" or " the timing just was not right for me".  To me, I hope that none of the candidates would consider pulling out early.  I find it frustrating that some people would make light of this process and use the media and public to further their own agendas for months leading up to the election, only to pull out when their ego's have been satisfied. I think it would be awful to consider that many people abuse the system for personal gain and have no intent on actually following through with the election campaign.  But again, this is their democratic right. 

 Anyways, I hope that all of the declared candidates ensure that they get their paperwork in order to ensure that they do not have a close call like Madeleine King did in 2007, when she filled out her paperwork incorrectly and almost disqualified herself from running. 



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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Want To See Me Walk A Mile In High Heel's for Charity?

Hi Everyone! Want to see me walk in high heels?
I am proud to participate in Walk A Mile In Her Shoes in support of the YWCA of Calgary as they help women and their children take steps to walk away from domestic violence. I know that my participation in this event will help to make a difference in the lives of these people.

I hope to raise $750 towards the YWCA of Calgary's goal of $200,000. Please make a donation if you can. Any amount helps, $5, $10 or more! Donations of $20 or more will receive a tax receipt!

Thank you to my family, friends readers and co-workers for your support!!
Please cheer me on September 20 at Olympic Plaza as I walk in High Heels and try not to break my leg!
And no, I will not practice with Becky's shoes before the event!
To Donate online automatically, follow the link here
To Donate offline, please print the form from the link here.
I will be away on vacation until 09/15/2010 so I hope I can get enough donations by the time I return! 
Becky promises to get video of my High Heel Adventure to share with everyone!

Thanks again!


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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Interview with Calgary 2010 Ward 4 Alderman Candidate Sean Chu

This is a continuation of a series of interviews that I will post about local candidates that are running in the 2010 Calgary municipal election. I do not endorse any of the candidates necessarily, unless stated otherwise. The intent is to allow the candidates a forum in which they can share some of their views.
This interview is with Sean Chu, who will be running for Alderman in Ward 4 this term.  As noted in a previous post, I know Sean personally and have worked with him on a local board over the past few years.   Ward 4 will be a highly contested race and the number of candidates running seems to expand each day!

1) Some of your opponents will make a big issue of the fact that you do not live in the ward. How do you respond to these concerns?

SC: I recognize that this would be an issue when I decided to run for Ward 4, but with my roots, and connections all tied to Ward 4, I felt right putting my name forward for the October election.
When I came to Calgary decades ago, Ward 4 was my first home. However, now I live in the south in order to be closer to my two daughters, but my extended family, and all my friends still live in Ward 4.
It is just not the simple aspect of living, or not living in the Ward that should be the issue that defines an individual’s campaign. The issues that affect Ward 4 are issues that also affect all Calgarians to some degree. The issues that I see in Ward 4: congested traffic on Center Street and McKnight, to the need of more police officers to lower crime, and residents desire to see City Council become more financially responsible, go beyond simply Ward 4. My goal in running for office is to create workable solutions to those challenges for the community that is truly my home.

2) Each Ward has its own unique issues. What do you think is the biggest issue facing the voters of Ward 4 that is totally unique to that part of Calgary?

  SC: One of the major issues that affect residents in Ward 4 is traffic congestion, because the Ward is one of the oldest in Calgary it lacks the main thoroughfares and LRT that new neighbourhoods in the SW (Deerfoot) and NW (Crowchild) have access to, along with the new ring road, all of which help residents of those communities move faster around the City.

  Granted, in the West Ward 4 has Shaganappi and John Laurie Blvd to help facilitate traffic, but in the East, with Center Street running down the middle, when rush hour comes it can be a long process to get home. That is why I advocate for City Council to help make Center Street, and McKnight Blvd more efficient in getting residents home faster. Council should look at removing some intersections, and placing walls similar to what we see on Crowchild Trail. Traffic can move faster, and residents along Center Street will have a sound barrier. But we must view this as a long term project, and one that will takes years to accomplish, if the City Council votes in favour, and if its cost is acceptable.

  There are a few issues that are not entirely unique to Ward 4. When I go door knocking, I hear some recurring concerns that need to be addressed. The most critical to everyone is crime levels in the community, from petty theft, to vandalism. This must stop. In fact, one of my key priorities is to ensure that the Calgary police service receives the necessary funding, so that it is able to function properly in carrying out its day-to-day responsibilities. Residents of Ward 4 should not have to fear for their family’s safety and the protection of their property.

  I still participate actively in Ward 4, by volunteering extensively in the community. I was also the liaison for most of the Ward 4 communities when I was a director of the Federation of Calgary Communities, as well as when I was a director at the Foundations for the Future Charter Academy; we were responsible for the Greenview Middle school which resides in Ward 4. One of the highlights of my life was when I received the Alberta Centennial Medal for Outstanding Community Involvement because of such volunteering in Ward 4.
  It is those community connections past and present, that made me decide to run for Ward 4. I hope that when people go to the polls on October 18th that they choose who they want to be their Alderman, based on their policy goals, their community involvement, but also their character. To see real change on City Council we need Alderman who have the passion for the job, but are going in for the right reasons. My passion has always been for Ward 4, and my desire to put my name forward is because of that passion.

3) As a long time member of the Calgary Police Service, can you share some thoughts on what you would do to make Calgary a safer city?

SC:  Crime levels is one of the chief concerns I hear from residents when I go door knocking, and is a issue that I know can be reduced if the Calgary police service are adequately funded. One of my key priorities is for safer communities. As I have often said, you as Calgarian’s deserve to be free from the fear of crime. Your families should be safe, your property should be protected from theft and vandalism, and the police should never be too far away when you need them.

  I will advocate for more police on the ground, both on bikes and foot, downtown, and in the more popular areas like 17th Avenue and Kensington, to more car patrols in the outer communities, all so that the police can respond faster. This cannot occur without adequate police funding.

  But safer communities go beyond the simple funding of the Calgary Police Service. It also involves the proper funding of firefighters, and in pushing the province to review how it manages EMS services in cooperation with the City. This will help improve communication between all first responders.

  The benefit for every Calgarian is quicker response times for Police and EMS, but will also send a signal to criminals and gangs that the City of Calgary takes crime seriously.

4) In your opinion, what is the biggest mistake that Bob Hawkesworth has made as Alderman?

SC:  I do not wish to criticize Bob because I know that what he tried to do for Ward 4 he believed was in the best interest of Ward 4 residents. I believe that the residents would rather hear what I can, and will do, to make Ward 4 an even better place for their families to live in, rather than attack someone that has stepped down. Criticism will not solve any of the challenges that face Ward 4.

  My focus during the campaign will be door knocking, so that I can understand and learn the issues that affect Ward 4 from residents themselves, so I can incorporate them into my priorities. This is how a democracy is supposed to function – issues facing Ward 4 are given a solution from residents themselves.
5) It seems that Snow Removal budget and service seems to be a big issue every winter in this city! Do you have any idea's to help improve the City snow removal program?

SC:  Snow removal is definitely a huge issue in this election for the simple fact that Calgarian’s are tired of driving on poorly cleaned roads. I understood that there had to be a change to this policy when I was told by a friend a few months ago that she was stuck in a bus on John Laurie Blvd for nearly 10 Hours! And, the woman behind her was luckily driving a camper, and allowed other people who were stuck as well to use her bathroom. This story obviously made me frustrated, especially when the downtown core is scraped clean of snow.

  The excuse that the City does not have the money for basic snow removal of main thoroughfares is not acceptable, when one considers the basic loss to businesses from their employees not showing up on time, or at all, and the loss to Calgarian’s who get into accidents and have to shell out thousands to fix their vehicles. Waiting for a Chinook is not an option, and Calgarian’s have obviously had enough. That is why I will push for a comprehensive snow policy. A policy that would allow communities to hire private contractors to remove snow, if they want a more thorough cleaning, a process that the City can help facilitate. As well, the City should put more money into snow removal, so that main drags are cleaned often. Finally, the City should invest in more tow trucks in order to keep traffic moving, since we all know that the wait for tow trucks in the winter can be very long. We as Calgarian’s have seen the benefits of the city funding of tow trucks on Deerfoot Trail, such a successful idea should be extended to all main drags in Calgary.

Sean's Website is at 

This is cross-posted at

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