City of Airdrie gears up for 2013 municipal election in October
Polls will open for the City of Airdrie’s municipal election on Oct. 21 at 6:30 a.m. to an estimated 32,000 eligible voters.
This year, voters will elect officials for four-year terms rather than three, a decision made by the Provincial government in 2012 in an effort to save on election costs province-wide.
The City of Airdrie has budgeted $42,500 for the 2013 municipal election – up nearly $10,000 from the $32,650 that was budgeted in 2010. Funding for the election comes out of the City’s 2013 budget via operating costs, which are paid for by tax dollars, user fees and grants.
This increase is based largely on the need for more election workers to staff voting stations.
In Airdrie, there will be three voting stations: residents who live east of Highway 2 will vote at Genesis Place, residents living between Highway 2 and the train tracks will vote at the Town and Country Centre located at 275 Jensen Dr. NE and all residents west of the train tracks will cast their ballots at the Rocky View Schools administration building.
Though the budget for this year’s election has been set at $42,500, City officials expect that number to drop by $5,000 thanks to a decision to forgo a fourth voting station.
“We had planned for a fourth voting station, which would require a fourth machine and even more staff,” said Manager of Legislative Services Sharon Pollyck.
“This year, we will stick with three, but we’ll still need more staff (than in 2010).”
In 2010, the City saw an unexpectedly high voter turnout of close to 33 per cent with just over 8,500 people casting ballots and left City staff scrambling somewhat, according to Pollyck.
The 2007 election saw Linda Bruce acclaimed as mayor and aldermanic vote that had just 12 per cent voter turnout (2,600 people).
“We had a greater turnout than we were expecting and towards the end of the day, we were needing to call people in to help tabulate votes,” said Pollyck.
The City calls upon members of the community and census workers to staff the election. In 2010, the election was staffed by 33 people and this year Pollyck expects that number to be closer to 45.
Mayor Peter Brown said he is hoping for a strong voter turnout, though he is aware that numbers could take a dip as a result of no mayoral vote this year after he was acclaimed on Sept. 23.
“I hope that voting numbers don’t take a drop, but if you look at other communities, historically in elections when the mayor is acclaimed, turnout is a bit lower,” said Brown. “What citizens of Airdrie need to understand is that the mayor is just one vote and there are six other people who need to be voted in as the best for those positions.”
The number of aldermanic candidates is down this year from 20 in 2010 to 15 vying for six seats on Oct. 21.
Murray Buchanan who received the most votes in 2010 - 4,926 - will not be running for re-election. Alderman Glenda Alexander will also not be running for re-election after nine years on council. Alexander received 3,251 votes in 2010. (See related story on page 3)
The four aldermen running for re-election, Fred Burley, Ron Chapman, Kelly Hegg and Allan Hunter will be joined on the ballot by 11 other candidates, including returnees from the 2010 election Darrell Belyk, Rachelle Reed and Kevin Hughes.
With the mayor’s position having been decided, the focus shifts squarely to the alderman race, one that Brown says he will be able to pay close attention to now that he won’t be running his own campaign. He says he will be drumming up interest in the election in any way he can.
“That may be how I can play a more active role in this election now that I won’t be campaigning,” said Brown. “I’ll do my best to get people out to the polls to vote, I’d encourage everyone to do their homework and to get to know these candidates so that we can get the best people possible in those seats.”
To be eligible to vote on Oct. 21, individuals must be Canadian citizens over 18 years of age, have lived in Alberta for at least six months and be currently living in Airdrie.
For more information, visit www.airdrie.ca