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Corbella: Farkas’ mayoral run in Calgary guarantees a tough race in 2021

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I would say the biggest lie in Calgary politics is that I’m the next Dr. No. am – Jeromy Farkas

Article author:

Licia Corbella

Release date:

17th September 2020 • • 17th September 2020 • • Read for 5 minutes • • 52 comments Jeromy Farkas poses in Rotary Park in Calgary on Wednesday, September 16, 2020. Farkas announced that he will run for mayor in the next general election in October 2021. Photo by Jim Wells / Postmedia

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Within minutes of learning of Jeromy Farkas’ plans to become Calgary’s next mayor, I send an email and get a quick response – from Farkas himself, not an assistant.

This is the style of Ward 11’s 34-year-old councilman. He prefers to meet in person than by phone, so I’m taking him out for an early lunch at the Calgary Petroleum Club.

He orders a Diet Coke and the Power Bowl (is that an unconscious sign?) – full of quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, goat cheese, seeds, and other healthy foods. He only eats beef or chicken when he can be sure that the animals have been treated humanely.

To say that Farkas is the odd man on the council is undeniable, but not necessarily negative. Many Calgarians are fed up with our high spending, touchless, never-cutting mayor and advice.

But does Farkas have what it takes to be Calgary’s next mayor? Some people argue that Farkas doesn’t play well with others in the town hall sandpit that he’s not forgiving enough. Can someone like that convince others to follow him on the difficult path of tax caution?

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“I think I showed that there was evidence that I asked a lawyer to say yes. Yes to responsible spending, yes to transparency, yes to making business easier. Right now, I’d say the biggest lie in Calgary politics is that I’m the next Dr. No, ”he says, referring to the nickname given to former Calgary Alderman Ric McIver – who was seen as the successor to then-Mayor Dave Bronconnier before aspiring economics professor Naheed Nenshi won the 2010 job of mayor.

In the video in which Farkas launched his mayoral campaign on his Facebook page on Wednesday morning, he said: “An election shouldn’t mean winning the lottery. But with the council’s golden annuity and guaranteed payouts for life, it turns out to be even better.

“On my first day at work, the city council told me I had to take my pension. But I kept thinking back to a conversation I had had with one of my neighbors on their doorstep. As a single mother of two, she asked, “When you’re downtown, will you take care of me? Or will you just think about yourself? ‘

“Keeping my word and rejecting this pension was the easiest decision I have ever made,” said Farkas in the video.

“But it was also the most expensive as it put me on a collision course with a contactless company that in many ways put its own interests before yours.”

It’s hard to argue with him. Struggled after a five-year recession in Alberta followed by falling oil prices, the layoff of thousands of Calgarians and the economic boom from the lockdown of COVID-19, which caused hundreds of troubled Calgary business owners to permanently close their doors Farkas tough on what he calls the “massive coronavirus tax increase of 7.5 percent”.

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For free.

In an April 27 letter sent with our tax bills, Nenshi said, “Your city council has kept your taxes below inflation and population growth and over $ 740 million in cuts and growth since that last downturn began in 2014 Cuts identified savings on our budget, savings that we passed on to the taxpayer. “

Most charitable, this can be defined as fiction – if not downright fantasy.

“It’s like when a family says they buy a Lamborghini but instead buy a Corvette and then says they saved money by buying,” Farkas said at the time. “This logic only works in the town hall. This is not a cut in the real world. “

So true. At lunchtime, Farkas says, even buying a Corvette is not an option in times like these. Sticking to the two-year-old family sedan can and must.

Jeromy Farkas spends a lot of time on his phone under a tree in Rotary Park in Calgary while waiting for a photo shoot on Wednesday, September 16, 2020.  Farkas announced that he will run for mayor in the next general election in October 2021. Jeromy Farkas spends a lot of time on his phone under a tree in Rotary Park in Calgary while waiting for a photo shoot on Wednesday, September 16, 2020. Farkas announced that he will run for mayor in the next general election in October 2021. Photo by Jim Wells / Postmedia

Farkas says he’s honestly getting through his fiscal conservatism and social progressivism. He grew up in the working-class neighborhood of Dover – the son of a father whose family fled communist Hungary in 1956 as refugees of Soviet oppression.

The maternal side of the family fled Ukraine for the same reasons. His first job was delivering Flyers in Forest Lawn and using his small income to help his family pay their bills and make ends meet.

In high school, he washed dishes and bus tables at The Keg in Marlborough. Through the university, he paid back his student loans by working on the factory line at the Ogden shingle mill.

In his family, every dollar was spent wisely, never frivolously, and he wants the same care to be taken of taxpayers’ money.

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“My parents came here to build. This is central to my ethos. Build better, ”says Farkas.

Nenshi has not yet announced whether he will run for mayor again in October 2021. Farkas says he’s not running for one person, he’s running for something – for a more efficient town hall that serves the Calgarians, not the other.

In 2017, Bill Smith ran to replace Nenshi, but his campaign lacked details and vision. He was simply the anti-Nenshi, and that got him only 44 percent of the vote – seven points behind Nenshi’s 51 percent.

Farkas knows very well the problems and files that this city is confronted with.

“I think we have to get our budget under control and use new technology. . . and be tireless in our pursuit of economic recovery and growth and create new jobs in all sectors, ”said Farkas. He wants to reduce bureaucracy and improve transparency.

Above all, he wants City Hall to live the reality of the rest of this injured city and province and keep an eye on the price of a better run city.

“When I was elected three years ago, I wanted to be the best annual councilor I could ever be,” he says. “I think I did this for my constituents and I know I can do it for the whole city.”

Whether or not Nenshi is running for a fourth term, one thing is certain: next year’s citizen elections will be the most competitive race in a decade.

Licia Corbella is a post-media columnist based in Calgary

lcorbella@postmedia.com

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