Meet the Calgarians running for mayor and council
The next municipal election is on October 18, 2021.
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The next civic election is on October 18, 2021. So we’re keeping a master list of all the candidates who have declared they’re running for Calgary city council, along with Calgary Board of Education and Calgary Catholic School District trustees. Official nominations opened January 4 and close September 20, 2021 at noon.
The list is up to date as of May 13. If we’re missing anyone, or if there are any errors, let our municipal politics reporter Jeremy Appel know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Calgary City Council
Calgary businessman and self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur,” Brad Field supports the construction of both the Green Line and the new event centre, as well as cutting taxes and services—including the police budget. Field says council should simply impose lower speed limits in Calgary, rather than put it to a plebiscite.
A Nigerian immigrant, Ogbonna is the founder of Youth for Transparency International, an organization aiming to get young people civically engaged. Ogbonna's LinkedIn page identifies him as a former board member of the Calgary-McCall UCP constituency association. On Facebook, he accused the Calgary Police Service of adopting a “Marxist world view” after Chief Mark Neufeld acknowledged systemic racism.
Gabriel, who previously ran for mayor in 2017, says he’s running against the “career politicians” at city hall. He says his first act as mayor would be to establish a two-term limit on the office. Gabriel’s website is still under construction. His Facebook page lists him as a civil engineer with a PhD in management, however he isn't registered with APEGA, the province's official engineering professional body.
Desautels is a Calgary musician who received his master's degree of music from the University of Arizona. He wants to partner with the federal government to build a vaccine manufacturing facility in Calgary, abolish the mayoral title of “Your Worship” and generally enhance the tone of debate at city hall.
The rookie councillor for Ward 11, who was elected on a campaign of low taxes and fiscal restraint, declared his candidacy in September 2020. Prior to serving on council, Farkas was a senior fellow at the Canada Strong and Free Network (the conservative think-thank formerly known as the Manning Centre), and executive assistant for the Israel studies program at the University of Calgary.
The Ward 3 councillor was first elected to city hall in 2017. Prior to her political career, Gondek was director of the Westman Centre for Real Estate Studies at the University of Calgary and sat on various community boards. She says Calgarians should be seen as “investors” in the city and has described herself politically as “completely a centrist.”
Billing himself as a fiscal and social conservative, Heather is involved in efforts to issue an injunction against the city’s mask bylaw. He ran for mayor in 2017 and notoriously sued to have the election results overturned, relying on an 1877 Supreme Court decision to accuse Mayor Nenshi of exercising “undue influence,” which was rejected.
A geologist by trade, Wang ran as an independent in last year's federal election in the Calgary Rocky Ridge riding. He wants to bring property taxes down to 2015 levels by 2025, and to "tie the police budget to the crime rate reversely."
Former president of the Kerby Centre for seniors and current president of ZKO Oilfield Industries, Novak is calling to upgrade the city to “Calgary 2.0”. He wants the city to work more closely with developers to create a growth plan and is concerned about the costs of the Green Line’s northern portion.
A commercial real estate agent by trade, Yan wants the city to attract investment through tax breaks and other incentives for big and small businesses, and turn vacant downtown buildings into housing as part of a broader revitalization effort. She expresses skepticism about the Green Line and bike lines, while supporting increased police funding.
Hopkins is a British veteran who received the General Commanding Land Forces Bosnia Commendation for his service in the former Yuglosavia. He settled in Calgary about a decade ago. Besides supporting term limits for councillors and mayors, Hopkins wants to ban single-use plastics and ensure recycled materials get sorted and diverted from landfills.
A businessman and one-time Dragon's Den contestant, Hartley promises to donate half his mayoral salary to local charities and cut costs at city hall if elected. He also wants to scrap the Green Line, end funding for "terrible art installations" and establish a municipal tax on corporations.
Damery is a vice-president at the YWCA. Before that she worked at United Way, and in the oil and gas industry. Damery wants to encourage business activity, use a life-cycle cost analysis for city planning to reduce costs, expand the city's parks system and start construction on the Green Line.
After a single term on council, Davison is running for mayor and billing himself as a "pro-business" candidate who has voted to constrain the city's budget, worked with organized labour to freeze their wages and shifted the tax burden away from small businesses. He says his major accomplishment is passing the arena deal with an expanded event centre.
Candidate(s) without campaign pages:
Incumbent: Ward Sutherland
Disability advocate Jacob McGregor is putting his hat in the ring to replace Coun. Ward Sutherland—who has yet to announce his intentions for 2021. McGregor, who has cerebral palsy, wants to invest in suburban infrastructure, reduce city councillors' pay, and reduce the city's dependence on tax revenue. He is a volunteer with the Calgary Ability Network and has volunteered with Conservative MP Pat Kelly.
Sutherland is running for his third term on council, having first been elected in 2013, when he won by just 87 votes. Sutherland serves as chair of the Business Advisory Committee, and the Standing Policy Committee of Utilities and Corporate Services. He's also vice-chair of the Event Centre Assessment Committee.
The owner of Royal Daycare Centres, Qamar is a member of Rocky Ridge Royal Oak Community Association (RRROCA) and has volunteered with various community churches and child care centres. She says city council needs more people with private sector experience to cut spending.
Incumbent: Joe Magliocca
Tyers is running to replace scandal-plagued Coun. Joe Magliocca, whom she has called on to resign. She most recently worked as a constituency assistant for Calgary-Nose Hill MP Michelle Rempel. Tyers wants to cut taxes and says the city should focus more on delivering essential services and less on beautification projects.
Besouw is an engineering consultant who immigrated to Alberta from the Netherlands in 1977. He says he wants to cancel any expensive projects that won’t be completed until after council’s term (i.e. the Green Line), scrap free services that are not for low-income Calgarians, and collaborate with the non-profit sector.
The three planks of Aranha's candidacy are fiscal responsibility, youth empowerment and effective communication. Originally from India, he studied hospitality management at the University of Mumbai before moving to Calgary, where he now works for a large catering company.
Taylor has worked for 30 years as a tradesperson in the construction industry. He says he wants to suspend business application and renewal fees, cut the non-residential property tax rate, create more parks, green spaces and recreational facilities, and advocate for provincial and federal funding to expedite construction of the Green Line.
Wyness, an offshore sailing captain who has more than 15 years experience working and managing public recreation facilities, ran in Ward 2 in 2017, placing second with 36% of the vote. She says she wants to create a budget incentive program, which allows departments to carry over a percentage of savings from one year to the next, and advocates getting the Green Line built as soon as possible to avoid increasing costs.
Incumbent: Jyoti Gondek
Trenholm is a business consultant and author who is calling for spending restraint and running on the slogan of “Take Back City Hall.” His official campaign website is still under construction, we will include the specific policies he supports when they become available.
Mian is an olympic wrestler who also has master’s degrees in psychology and public policy. Her academic interests are focused on pedestrian safety and how cities can leverage tech investment to address their budgetary woes.
Pike, a paramedic who also hosts the Alberta politics podcast the Breakdown, says he's running to restore trust in elected officials. He promises to disclose all donations as he receives them and is critical of the province's stalling on the Green Line.
After getting laid off from his oil sands engineering job in 2013, Nijjar launched a career in local governance, serving as the manager of planning and development services for neighbouring Rocky View County. Nijjar wants to confine public funding to core services and “stretch every dollar to the maximum.”
A realtor by trade, Khan says he wants to enhance the city's core services, including social programs, youth programs and affordable housing, among others. Khan, who immigrated from Azad Kashmir 23 years ago, also wants to work with other levels of government to expand Calgary-based listings on job boards and ensure these ads reach more diverse communities.
Candidate(s) without campaign pages:
Incumbent: Sean Chu
Chu is first councillor to announce they are running for re-election—the former Calgary cop is seeking a third term on council. Chu ran for the PCs in 2008 in Calgary-Buffalo, placing second to Liberal Kent Hehr, and is one of council’s most reliably conservative voices. Chu immigrated to Calgary in 1985 from Taiwan.
McIntyre is the first candidate announcing they're running to challenge incumbent Sean Chu, with the slogan "Move 4 Ward". She is the marketing manager for the Confederation Park 55+ Activity Centre and owns a contracting business with her partner.
Incumbent: George Chahal
Incumbent Chahal is running for his second term representing the northeast ward. A former financial adviser, he is the founder and chair of the public safety task force, and sits on the Calgary Police Commission.
Sadat, a local lawyer, is preparing for a rematch against incumbent George Chahal, who beat him in the 2017 civic election. Previously, Sadat worked on former premier Jim Prentice's 2014 PC leadership campaign. He says he wants to pressure the provincial government for more natural disaster aid so there is less delay in responding to events like last year's hail storm, and enhance accessibility for recreational areas and public transit.
Chetty, who worked on Leslyn Lewis's failed Conservative Party leadership campaign, accuses Calgary's "Liberal mayor and councillors" of being complicit in a co-ordinated attack on the oil and gas industry from the federal government. A Black South African, Chetty immigrated to Canada in 1974, and settled in Calgary in 1991, where he entered the transportation and tourism industry.
Incumbent: Jeff Davison
Kad is explicitly running as “Your Conservative Choice”, using the party’s blue colour scheme on his website. Originally from India, with some time spent studying business in Finland, Kad owns three Boston Pizza franchises and has sat on the Strathcona Community Association’s board. He's also a professional cricket umpire.
Candidate(s) without campaign pages:
A registered social worker and instructor at Mount Royal University, Bentley ran for the Alberta Party in Calgary-Acadia in the 2019 provincial election, and placed third in the riding won by Health Minister Tyler Shandro. She says she wants to build on the work of incumbent Coun. Jeff Davison, expanding public spaces while advocating for the business community.
Incumbent: Druh Farrell
Bogdanov is an executive council member of the Progressive Group for Independent Business, the right-wing advocacy group that created Take Back City Hall. She is the Take Back City Hall candidate for Ward 7. Originally from Russia, Bogdanov touts her extensive business background—including marketing for Samsung and sales for a medical equipment company.
Peigan, a member of the Piikani Nation who was appointed to the Calgary Police Commission in 2017, announced her candidacy on the day of the Women’s Memorial March honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women. She says she wants to enhance diversity at the city and help establish a "sustainable approach" to municipal governance.
Waite has worked the past decade as the director of Connections, a counselling and consulting organization for those with disabilities, and prior to that worked in corporate communications and investment relations at Principal. She wants to find new uses for empty downtown office buildings and partner with various stakeholders on downtown revitalization.
Wong has served as the executive director of the Calgary Business Improvement Area and is currently the president of the Hounsfield Heights Briar Hill Community Association. He has also been critical of the Guidebook for Great Communities. Wong says council needs to do a better job balancing its municipal infrastructure projects and broader planning goals.
Williams supports downtown revitalization, the Green Line and the new arena, and wants to expand the city's cost-cutting programs, such as SAVE, as well as affordable housing. He's also the founder of a business that sells designer medical scrubs, and the sales manager for a janitorial services contractor.
Incumbent: Evan Woolley
Raised in rural Alberta and Saskatchewan, Murphy would be the first transgender member of Calgary City Council if elected. She has recently served as director of business development for Calgary Pride, director of fund development for Skipping Stone, and as volunteer coordinator for Canadian Rockies Gay Rodeo Association.
A teacher and basketball coach at Western Canada High School, Walcott petitioned the Calgary Board of Education last year to start an anti-racism task force. He wants to keep more tax dollars in the ward, stand up to other orders of government and advocate for climate action on a municipal level.
Bergmann, a businessman for 20 years who's a member of the Chamber of Commerce, says he wants the city to focus on "essential services," such as transit, police and firefighters, roads and pipes, and garbage and recycling. He says he wants to make roads more car-friendly, reduce unnecessary construction and have "less social engineering."
Mitchell wants to cut taxes and spending, impose a two-term limit on councillors and the mayor, and lobby the province to allow cities to impose a $100,000 spending limit on each campaign.
A self-described "progressive community advocate", Knudtson has recently served as the vice president of the Cliff Bungalow – Mission Community Association. His website includes a letter of recommendation from Ward 11 councillor and mayoral candidate Jeromy Farkas. Knudtson says he wants to build a more inclusive city hall, develop a "meaningful strategy" to address homelessness and combat the opioid crisis.
A lawyer by trade, Winkler briefly worked in Manitoba assisting residential school survivors with their claims as a University of Calgary law student. She wants to advocate for limited tax increase through fiscal restraint and ensure new development is based on community interests done with communities' consent.
Candidate(s) without campaign pages:
Incumbent: Gian-Carlo Carra
Feser, who appears to be affiliated with the Take Back City Hall slate, officially announced her candidacy January 15, with a Facebook video in which she names all of the ward's neighbourhoods. Her Twitter feed indicates she is a staunch critic of the mayor, referring to him as "Spendshi," and a supporter of the provincial and federal conservative parties.
Running in the ward currently represented by Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra, Wise is critical of council for its spending cuts, but he pledges to reduce city spending and “bring residential and corporate taxes under control.” He touts his experience working in a wide array of fields, including a five-year stint teaching in China.
Carra is running for his fourth term on council. He sat on the Inglewood Neighbourhood Association starting in 2000, serving as president from 2003 until he was first elected to council in 2010. Carra sits on the police commission and chaired last summer's hearings on systemic racism.
Khan, who has a master's degree in public policy from the University of Calgary, has spent the past few years working as a policy analyst for the Calgary Homeless Foundation. His website lists his three main priorities as safety, prosperity and bringing communities together.
Candidate(s) without campaign pages:
The first candidate to announce they’re running in the sole ward without an incumbent, Joseph supports enhancing access to seniors programs, revitalizing ageing community centres, expanding and upgrading affordable housing, and offering more services for the BIPOC community while also increasing access and funding for existing social services.
Thurlow, a journeyman millwright by trade who owns several businesses, says he wants to bring fiscal restraint to city council without making major service cuts. He wants to delay the BMO Centre expansion, new hockey arena and Arts Commons until the city is in better economic shape, but cautiously supports the Green Line.
Candidate(s) without campaign pages:
Incumbent: Jeromy Farkas
The second candidate to enter the Ward 11 race, DeFraine was a member of the Wildrose Party’s Calgary Glenmore riding association until the party’s 2017 dissolution. He describes himself as being on the “Warpath [sic] against unreasonable taxation,” and wants the city to reinstate the $20-million it cut from the police budget.
Running to replace Coun. Jeromy Farkas after he announced his mayoral run, Branagan is the past president of the Haysboro Community Association, where she worked with city council and developers to get upgrades and repairs in the neighbourhood. She is currently a community manager at Rainforest Alberta, a group dedicated to fostering tech innovation in Calgary and Edmonton.
The owner of an IT and marketing company, Ward works with local small businesses to use technology to increase their revenue and streamline operations. He says he wants to take this approach to city council, outlining four priorities — community, safety, gaining trust and supporting local business.
Krahn is a committee member of the Alberta Coalition Against Human Trafficking, as well as a consultant to a small business. She wants to bring the Clean Energy Improvement Program to Calgary, which incentivizes energy efficient home upgrades through low-interest financing, and ensure snow removal is done in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Herschel supports "balanced, scalable and sustainable growth" for the city and wants to spend on programs that offer a return on investment, specifically citing the Green Line. Herschel has worked various jobs in commercial real estate, banking, residential home building, hospitality and non-profit sectors, including a stint with the Calgary Public Library.
Candidate(s) without campaign pages:
Incumbent: Shane Keating
Chandler describes himself as a “front line worker in the conservative movement" as he ran federally for the Reform Party in 1993 in Hamilton, Ontario. In 2007, he helped found the Wildrose Party after then-premier Ed Stelmach denied his candidacy. His website is still under construction.
The owner of an internet consulting business, LaValley wants to cut taxes and calls for the city to choose between the “nice-to-haves” and “must-haves” with regards to spending. He also wants to reduce the amount of in-camera council meetings and foster “the decorum Calgarians deserve from their representatives.”
The son of a Vietnamese refugee, Phan is a former reservist in the Canadian Armed Forces. He is a business owner and has worked as a campaign volunteer for Conservative MP Tom Kmiec and UCP MLA Ric McIver. He wants to cut taxes, invest in infrastructure, and ensure “responsible spending” and “safe communities” in Calgary.
The CEO of a consulting firm, Hargreaves previously ran for council in 2017, placing a distant second to incumbent Shane Keating. During her previous run, she expressed skepticism about the Green Line, saying residents told her they would only use it occasionally.
A staffer for outgoing Coun. Shane Keating, Spencer served as a pastor for the first decade of his professional life and has worked as a volunteer coordinator, in addition to sitting on the board of the LRT on the Green Foundation. He wants the city to create a case manager position to expedite business permits, and for construction on the Green Line to start ASAP.
Frisch, who served in the military for 11 years, has worked more recently as a tech consultant, helping businesses automate certain jobs. He's the past president of the Calgary Evergreen Community Association and wants the city to collaborate more closely with these types of groups. Frisch also wants to cut taxes, questions the financial value of the Green Line and seeks to reduce city administration costs.
The Ward 13 incumbent, who has been a councillor for 20 years, kicked off the first full week of the new year by announcing her re-election bid. Colley-Urquhart supports keeping EMS dispatch local, was a staunch proponent of the city's mandatory mask bylaw, and wants an independent analysis on the Green Line's ridership, cost and risk before proceeding with it.
The three planks of Unsworth's platform are accessibility, accountability and affordability. He's worked as the director of business services at Mount Royal University since 2019 and received an MBA from Victoria's Royal Roads University in 2014.
Ovtchinnikov began his career in the restaurant as a dishwasher at Boston Pizza, working his way up to management before taking a position with a company that sells commercial kitchen equipment. He wants to cut spending, regulations (or "red tape") and taxes, protect green spaces, and is ambivalent about the Green Line.
Demong is seeking his fourth term on council in October. Last time, he won 90% of the vote. Demong sits on the city’s planning and urban development, and intergovernmental affairs committees, in addition to serving as vice chair of the utilities and corporate services committee.
Naheed Nenshi announced in April that he will not run for re-election after three terms as mayor. When he first ran for mayor in 2010, Nenshi was a dark horse candidate who built a social media campaign that powered him past frontrunners Ric McIver and CTV broadcaster Barb Higgins in the election's closing weeks.
After two decades on council, Druh Farrell has opted not to run for re-election. In a letter announcing her decision, Farrell cited the revitalization of the East Village, the Peace Bridge across the Bow River, curbside recycling and transit expansion as her major accomplishments.
Evan Woolley, who spent two terms on council as one of its more progressive member, has announced he won't seek re-election because he wants to spend more time with his family after the deaths of his brother and mother.
Longtime Green Line proponent Coun. Shane Keating announced back in June that he won’t be seeking re-election after a decade on council citing his wife’s cancer diagnosis and treatment.