I'm very, very close to a final decision

Between the week of sleeplessness and mind-boggling problems, it’s been a most strange few days. 

Two things have been really helpful this week.  The first was Calgary’s mayoral debate via Twitter - our Twibate, using the hashtag #yycTB.  Several of our mayoral candidates that are active in social media were involved, while several others were noticeably absent.  The other was the Calgary Eyeopener’s second mayoral debate.

I have to admit, I chuckled to myself when a few people out there felt overwhelmed with the amount of response #yycTB generated.  Awww, ’t’weren’t nothin’.  If you don’t know me well, I’ve been involved with #meteorwatch for the past couple of years.  Specifically focusing on the Perseid meteor shower in August, it’s become quite literally a global event and there’s a couple hundred of us that band together and support our illustrious leader, @VirtualAstro, in bringing the excitement and beauty of a meteor shower to average people.  I focus on answering questions for people who have never seen a meteor before.  I can regularly be answering one question while two others line up vying for my attention. 

Our twibate was much more sedate in comparison.   I can understand the feeling of being overwhelmed a little, but I was very much in my element. 

A debate is only as illuminating as it’s questions, and I give a big thanks to Kirk Schmidt for a great job pulling together what for me was an extraordinarily useful debate.  All of my main issues less one were touched upon - and unlike a televised debate I got to actually ask that question:

Question for candidates:  Specifically how do you deal with a fractious city council should another ideological split occur? #yycTB

Craig Burrows responded:
It’s about the issue not ideology or personalities.  I will work with anyone because Calgarians chose 15 people to represent #yyctb

Robert McBean has a great question:
why do you think campaigns are focussed on “big ideas” and “world class” when most issues i see are about very basic governance? #yyctb

Paul Hughes replied:
Big Ideas capture imagination & r sexier than the trenches of democracy & civic management #YYCTB #YYCVOTE

I’ll invite any candidates to continue to add to their response in the comments below.

Jon Lord took a lot of heat over sprawl in this city. Richly deserved in areas, but in subsequent conversation with him the next morning I came to the conclusion that he’s not void of positive ideas, I just don’t agree with his assessment of our sprawling situation.

@jonlordcalgary Calgary is not a very bike-friendly city. I want to see improved alternative transportation as a key goal. #yycTB #yycvote @Zarquil I initiated Teleworking concepts they are moving ahead (slowly). One great way to get cars off the street, so bikes can roam. @Zarquil I once helped a young van-pooling entrepreneur with start-up.Calgary Transit went to wall to stop him,protecting monopoly.Thoughts? @Zarquil a “slower” city with “closer”communities and less traffic would help with that. The coming economy might just do it anyway #yycTB

The twibate was a very good and useful event and directly shaped my opinion of the mayoral race.  Partly because it was just a regular mayoral debate with some well considered questions, and very much because it was a mayoral debate where we could directly ask the questions that matter to us.  And unlike a typical mayoral debate, if we don’t get a satisfying answer, we can ask follow up questions and grill until we feel we have a handle on a candidate’s position (or we’re never going to get one).

Barb Higgins, Bob Hawkesworth, Ric McIver, Wayne Stewart and all the other non-participating candidates made an error to not participate with the Twibate for that very reason.  The free-for-all question format does mean that a candidate may be swamped with questions and specifically targeted.  On the other hand, there’s not very much time after the main questions have been asked to actually answer the questions that come in.  Should you be Jon Lord and spend the time answering the next morning, all the more kudos to you.  Should you wish to ignore most of the extracurricular questions, you can still answer the ones you wish that put you in the best light.

The twibate, more than any other event to date, more than web pages, more than shaking hands at a festival, has clarified my thoughts on the mayoral race.  I came in with questions, I came out with answers - some of them were answers I was not expecting, but answers nonetheless.

I’m running short of time, so I’ll just throw out brief thoughts on CBC’s mayoral debate.  It was much more listenable, with the decorum I hoped for.  Not to say it was bland.

This is a topic I know less about, and besides the hideous optics that city hall keeps trying to put in front of our eyes, I’m supremely curious what the candidates have to say.  I haven’t felt a strong engagement with either Ms. Higgins or Mr. Stewart (okay, I haven’t felt ANY engagement whatsoever with Ms. Higgins) so for them I was evaluating my feelings towards them as candidates.

For me, it is more of a time to observe both what the candidates were saying and how I was feeling about it. 

I’m going to hold back my thoughts until after this weekend.  I want to take a little time to chat with my kids about “boring politics” and I want to ensure I can explain my reasoning and rationale clearly.  This is something I’ve taken seriously, it’s a rare opportunity in Calgary, and I want to get it right.