As an election year unfolds in Calgary municipal politics, ambitious players are making their plans and forming their alliances in hopes of replacing reigning Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
Nenshi clearly wants to run for mayor again. Nenshi is a vanity driven man and if he wins another election, he will become the longest serving mayor in Calgary history. While Nenshi may be a horrific leader within council chambers, he is a savvy political player. In playing coy about whether or not he will run again, Nenshi is drawing out contenders who could split efforts to electorally unseat him. It appears to be working.
An anonymous but reliable and well-placed source has told me that City Counselor Jyoti Gondek not only plans to run for mayor but has chosen controversial political operative Stephen Carter to be her campaign manager. If this is true, it is a truly questionable choice on her part.
Aside from riding on Naheed Nenshi’s coattails to an electoral victory in 2010, Stephen Carter’s political guidance has almost invariably led to disaster when he managed to find people willing to take it.
Carter appeared not once but twice in the Wildrose Party. The first time he left in disgrace as his unpaid debt controversy threatened to embarrass the party and the second time was when he abandoned the party in order to work for Alison Redford. Under Carter’s sage guidance as Chief of Staff, Alison Redford finished her short tenure as Premier in utter disgrace. That left a legacy of division and distrust between the party executive and leader Danielle Smith which remained for years.
Carter surfaced again with Sandra Jansen for her short-lived and disastrous leadership campaign for the Progressive Conservative Party. Despite entering with much fanfare, Jansen found herself scrambling to even get the requisite nomination signatures as the deadline approached during the PC convention. Jansen gave up before even managing to get on the ballot. She later crossed to the NDP in order to gain a cabinet seat and then abandoned Notley’s NDP without notice when it became clear that she couldn’t win her seat again. Jansen has vanished from the political scene and has not been missed by pretty much anybody.
After finding himself politically homeless, Carter set his sights on the nascent Alberta Party. The Alberta Party was doing well for a new party. They were led by Greg Clark who won a Calgary seat and who was respected in all political circles. Their caucus was growing and they looked like they were going places. Carter advised that a leadership race was needed within the Alberta Party. A coup was sparked and Greg Clark found himself pushed out as leader. The Alberta Party then went on to be completely annihilated in the 2019 election and they still remain floundering and leaderless today.
Carter was also involved in the failed but costly campaign to bring the 2026 Olympics to Calgary
Municipal politics are a crazy arena at the best of times and this year is expected to be as insane as any. If indeed it is true that Gondek will be running for Mayor and that she has chosen Stephen Carter as her campaign manager, she has already proven her own judgement to be too poor to be a good mayor. It would assuredly lead to a volatile and nasty race in the election this fall which will make for some great dark comedy at least.
Looking forward to seeing what comes of this.