I'm voting for Don Iveson for a lot of reasons. Here are just a few.
As a downtown resident, I like that he really understands downtown. He doesn't just come for his city hall gig. He attends some of the great events here, like the Farmers' Market on 104th and What the Truck, for fun.
I know! Who goes to downtown Edmonton for fun?!?!
I like that Don knows that a new arena will only be one reason to visit or live downtown and that a lot of great things are going on here right now. That's important for me. It gives me confidence that he'll make sure the new arena improves downtown, which it doesn't necessarily have to do to be an economic success.
I know he knows what works for downtown because he tried to make sensible changes to the Molson site rezoning (based on reasonable requests from the surrounding community) and, in the end, voted against the unmodified version. This was an amazing revitalization opportunity lost by not challenging developers to think bigger.
As a software developer, I'm grateful for the community and opportunity organizations like StartupEdmonton provide. StartupEdmonton exists because of some extremely hard working people who decided there was no reason Edmonton couldn't be part of a northern Silicon Valley. Don, as councillor, believed in StartupEdmonton and added his support. In terms of providing reasons for local talent to stay and being a pocket of innovation, it has been a real success.
But one of the reasons I'm voting for Don Iveson also pushed me to dedicate a large part of my time over the last 3 months to volunteer on his campaign:
We have a chance to elect one of the most bravely transparent politicians out there.
I'm not talking about disclosing donation information early. Like a true hipster, Don was doing that before it was cool. And while I'm going to point to his blog, I'm not really talking about the fact that he blogs. A blog is just a low cost, effective way of communicating with a lot of people at once. (His talent in finding low cost, effective ways of doing things is another reason he'll be a great mayor.)
While we keep hoping for perfect leaders, I think we all know how imperfect they'll always be. We applaud certainty when history proves it correct and we ridicule it when history proves otherwise. Thoughtful consideration is hard to fit into good sound bites. There are a lot of cynics out there who think voters don't have the time or inclination to consider more than catchy slogans when making their decision. And the more details you put out there, the more you give your opponents to attack you on.
Thankfully Councillor Iveson never thought that way. He puts his doubts and decision making process up for all of us to see. His approach to the arena issue is a great illustration of his willingness to involve us as he grapples with a complex issue. He gave real details that we could critique. He gave us a window into the decision making process during which we could still change his mind. And perhaps if more on council had shared in his initial skepticism, the unanimous pushback against a deal that had become so lopsided would not have come so late in the game.
I don't know about you, but once I've made up my mind about something, I'll spend the bulk of my efforts arguing I'm right. To be most effective, feedback has to come before that point. What good is consultation without real transparency, from beginning to end?
I know that transparency like this is hard because so many of us avoid it. It's even rarer in politics. If you agree on its importance, you're not just voting for Don Iveson. You're voting for the type of politician you want to see running four years from now. You're voting for the type of politician you'd like to see in any level of government. You're voting for the opportunity to be able to have real input into decisions that are being made when it really counts.