Edmonton municipal election draws out candidates half a century apart

On Oct. 18, Edmontonians could choose to elect the city’s youngest councillor ever, or its oldest mayor.

Haruun Ali is 18 years old. The University of Alberta political science student was just 17 when he filled out his nomination paperwork to run in ward Papastew.

“I think we can’t have the same old representation that we’ve had on city council for generations and generations, because they haven’t solved the systemic problems that we’re facing,” he said.

“We need a fresh voice, we need someone with a youthful energy.”

Another candidate vying for a seat in city hall, the mayor’s chair, is 71-year-old Brian Breezy Gregg.

Read more: New wards, new names: What you need to know about Edmonton’s upcoming election

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The retired musician says age is just a number.

“Those things have nothing to do with it. Being respectful and caring, it’s just in what you do and say,” Gregg explained.

As one might expect with more than 50 years between them, the two men have very different platforms.

Ali’s priorities include fighting climate climate and enacting police reform. He says he would improve public infrastructure and invest in transit.

Gregg says he would remove big money from politics, improve the labour standards and increase taxes to improve everyone’s quality of life.

“It’s really important to have a wide range of life experience on council. You have people that come from different backgrounds, they have different perspectives and experience the city differently,” said outgoing councillor Michael Walters.

He says in addition to having people of various ages on council, there should also be more women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) representation.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton BIPOC city council candidates share experiences on the campaign trail' Edmonton BIPOC city council candidates share experiences on the campaign trail

Edmonton BIPOC city council candidates share experiences on the campaign trail

“I think the value young people bring is they lead us to the future. They’re the ones that rely on a sustainable future, both financially and environmentally. It’s a little more urgent for them,” Walters explained.

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“Older candidates bring a steadier perspective. They’ve lived a long life and know that things don’t always go the way you want them to go. They tend to be more patient.”

Read more: A closer look at changes made to municipal election financing in Alberta

Historically, the youngest councillor in Edmonton was 23, and she was one of only a few dozen women ever elected: Margaret Crang.

The longest serving councillor was Ron Hayter, who retired at the age of 73.

Both Ali and Gregg said they would welcome to opportunity to work with each other.

In order to run in the municipal election, candidates must be at least 18 years old, a Canadian citizen, a resident of Edmonton for the six consecutive months immediately before nomination day (Sept. 20, 2021) and be a resident of Edmonton on election day.
Aspiring candidates have until Sept. 20, to file their nomination papers and pay the deposit. Candidates for mayor must pay a deposit of $500. Candidates for councillor and school board trustee must pay a deposit of $100.

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