Bronco set for 2010 ballot
By RICK BELL
Last Updated: 26th July 2009, 2:01am
Mayor Dave Bronconnier tells the Sun he'll run again in the next election. (Sun file photo) It's one question people want answered.
Is Bronco running again? He tells the Sun yes.
"Of course, I'm running again. I'm a guy who likes to get things done," says the mayor, who was first elected by a squeaker of a margin eight years ago.
"I told Calgarians when I stood in 2001, 2004 and 2007, we were going to make Calgary sustainable. We were going to go after the federal and provincial governments for our reasonable share of the taxes we pay back here. We were going to invest in infrastructure and quality of life. You're starting to see those things come together."
He rattles off a whole list of things off the top of his head, as much as he can get out in one breath.
It sounds like the bare bones of a campaign speech -- the parks plan, the revitalization of the East Village, Crowchild Tr., the west leg of the LRT, the northeast expansion, three regional rec facilities, how when he was elected $50 million a year was spent on roads and now it's $400 million.
"All of those are important community projects and they need a champion. They need somebody to keep driving them," he says.
"I intend to keep asking Calgarians for their support to keep doing these projects and building this city, to keep the momentum going."
You know he's got a lot more big-ticket items in his back pocket.
For some time, smart sorts figured Bronco would seek greener pastures after he finished nine years on the job. He's taken a lot of heat this past term, over everything from city spending in general to a designer bridge in particular.
And chatter circulated about other candidates and centred on Ald. Ric McIver, the Dr. No to Mayor Yes.
But, in the last little while, the mayor has sounded more his feisty self, speaking and acting like someone who wants stay a while longer in the job.
He has more than a year to get his message out and reclaim his Bronco the Builder persona. He has the power of being the one in the chair and Calgarians rarely toss mayors out the way they do in Edmonton, where two have been bounced in recent memory.
Don't forget, in this city people bellyache a whole lot more than they vote.
Bronco is asked why he thinks so many thought he was a goner.
"Some of my colleagues out there, that's what they're really hoping," he answers.
"They're trying to position themselves. They're trying to take things and spin them." Ouch.
He does add the escape clause of all politicians. Something unforeseen could happen between now and the city election to have him back out. One never says never until you have to say never.
Business goes on and, as revealed in last week's Sunday Sun, the mayor is looking a little more hawkish about the budget numbers. Instead of cutting $20 million to keep next year's city books balanced, the paper shufflers have been told to prepare cuts of 1.7% or $38 million.
This week, Bronco gives more details.
"We will shed between 90 and 100 positions out of the base budget," he says.
Some areas won't suffer a scratch. The city will hire 67 new cops, 32 new firefighters and 23 more in water services.
"The cops? We want to clean up the gangbangers. New firefighters and people in water services? We're opening up new fire halls. I'd think it would be pretty foolish to build a fire hall and then not staff it or build a sewer and water treatment plant and then not put staff in to maintain it."
There's also 911 and the need for more operators with a million calls a year. Calgarians will demand more snow clearing once the white stuff starts to fly, which could be in the next 15 minutes. The city will also still keep building because the mayor says it isn't the time to be "penny wise and pound foolish."
"Still, we've got to find efficiencies within the budget. You've got to look at the other areas. We're not living in a vacuum."
Bronco is also not as upbeat on the economy as Bank of Canada cheerleader Mark Carney.
"When natural gas gets over $6, I'll be as euphoric as Mr. Carney but, until then, this province is dependent upon the energy industry. Natural gas is at $3.75 and is just a kick in the shins. The impact of a low natural gas price on Calgary and rural Alberta is enormous not to mention on the provincial coffers."
"Our building permits will hit $2 to $2.5 billion this year, down from the highs of $7 billion. I'm very, very cautiously optimistic. We have a ways to go from being out of the woods yet."
But he's out of the woods politically.
It's game on and the city's current main man doesn't look like he's anywhere near blinking. He even has a message for anyone thinking of getting on the same ballot as him in October 2010.
"The water is nice and warm. Come on in."