ECVO Mayoral Forum October 15, 2013

City_HallI had the pleasure of attending the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (ECVO) Mayoral Candidate Forum on Tuesday. The well organized and attended event had candidates focus on their plans for Edmonton’s nonprofit/voluntary sector should they be elected Mayor. The format was standard, with opening and closing statements, questions chosen from sector submissions, and questions selected from the audience. Candidates were given one minute to respond to questions; a short amount of time that separated candidates with well-thought-out ideas from those with plans that seemed more ad hoc.

Here are a few of the notable questions with candidates’ responses.

What do you see as the priority issue facing Edmonton’s NPVS and how would City Council collaborate with the sector for the best outcomes?

Diotte – Wants to control City spending; would keep funding to NPVS flowing regardless.

Iveson – Inclusion and closing the economic gap is a priority; the NPVS is a partner and a source of expertise in this matter and would consult.

Leibovici – It is time to focus on social infrastructure. We must ensure newcomers are welcome and that our institutions reflect that diversity.  The lack of rental housing is also an issue.

Semotiuk – Accessibility of services is an issue; would consult with the sector on solutions.

Ward – ‘Hard’ infrastructure is at the expense of ‘soft’ infrastructure and communities.

How can the City of Edmonton partner with the nonprofit/voluntary sector to improve quality of life for underprivileged communities in our city?

D –Address these issues through listening and communication and have an “open door” to speak about the issues.

I – Frontline workers’ relationships with marginalized communities can create safe spaces for the city to hear directly from the communities in question, in addition to front line workers expertise.

L – The city is already accomplishing this and cites Edmonton’s 10 Year Plans to End Homelessness as an example of success.

S – Would like the city to improve its listening skills and would work through sector consultation to address this issue.

W – Agreed with Liebovici, thinks that Edmonton is already doing a good job of this and would like to approach solutions from a business perspective.

What role could the City play in strengthening Edmonton’s nonprofit/voluntary sector workforce?

D – Would keep the city affordable to live in by limiting property tax increases to inflation.

I – Would help organizations advocate to the Government of Alberta for funding that is structured to allow more HR expenditure.

L – Would advocate to the provincial government for more support.

S – Would support organizations seeking affordable space.

W – Had no answer, reiterates that he would work through advocacy and listening to solve problems.

Final Impressions

Overall, the forum was very informative. Diotte and Leibovici stuck mainly to their campaign platforms, with Leibovici promoting her experience as her greatest asset, and Diotte repeating his promises to keep property taxes, spending, and debt low. Ward and Semotiuk’s answers were consistent, both onboard with consultation and working in partnership with the sector. Ward, however, had an explicit business perspective that differed from all other candidates in the race. Of the five candidates present, my impression was that Iveson had the most nuanced understanding of the business of nonprofits, with Leibovici coming in second, both having experience on similar, or the same, initiatives as councillors.

Regardless of who you think should be Edmonton’s next mayor, be sure to get out and vote! Information on voting in Edmonton can be found here.

Ellie McFarlane, Program Coordinator