Calgary mayor and city council’s approval slips: Poll – Calgary

A new poll released by ThinkHQ suggests that Calgarians’ perception of their mayor and city council continues to decline after a year of work.

The poll, released Thursday, shows Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek’s approval at 35%, while 55% of respondents disapprove of the mayor’s performance.

10% of Calgarians surveyed still don’t know what they think of Gondek.

Gondek’s approval rating shows a 3% drop since the last ThinkHQ survey in the spring, which showed his approval rating at 38%.

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According to the poll, approval of Gondek is slightly higher among women, as well as among Calgarians living in the northwest and downtown areas of the city.

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The results also showed that disapproval of the mayor was higher among men, Calgarians over the age of 55 and those living further from downtown, particularly in South Calgary.

“You expected that first year to be a little bumpy. For most new councilors, you have a brand new mayor getting used to the way things work,” ThinkHQ President Marc Henry told Global News. “It’s more than bumpy. These numbers are bad, there is no kind of watering down.

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Respondents were also asked to rate the performance of their ward councilor and the city council as a whole.

The poll showed 39% of Calgarians approved of their elected councillor, which fell to 35% approval of the city council’s performance as a whole – a drop of 6% since the March poll.

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Male respondents and those who live in the city center gave their advisers a more negative rating, according to the survey.

“When you look at it overall, the lowest (ratings) we’ve ever had, certainly lower than I can remember for any type of councilor or mayor in Calgary,” Henry said.

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The mayor and councilors respond

Gondek told Global News she understands the sentiment felt by Calgarians interviewed in the poll, but added that the role of mayor is not a “popularity contest.”

“This job is about making some pretty tough decisions and doing some pretty heavy lifting,” Gondek said Thursday. “The reflection of 1,200 Calgarians is that they are not as happy as they would like.

“I get it, I wish we were in a better place too.”

Henry attributed Calgarians’ recent comments to several ‘contentious’ issues the board dealt with early in their tenure, including a ‘surprise’ tax hike during last year’s budget adjustments, failed deal for the construction of a new event center and the declaration of a climate emergency.

But Gondek also noted several controversies from various city council members that may impact Calgarians’ perception of the city council.

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District 4 Com. Sean Chu was censured by the board early in term after allegations he sexually assaulted a minor while a police officer in 1997; he was recently allowed to return to municipal committees.

Ward 13 County. Dan McLean recently apologized and stepped down from committee duties after videos emerged online that appeared to show him mocking Indigenous people.

While County Ward 9. Gian-Carlo Carra was stripped of his duties on city committees for failing to disclose property he owns in Inglewood and resigned from his position with the Calgary Police Commission as that he is still the subject of an assault investigation.

“These are heavy things that we have to sort out,” Gondek said. “I can understand Calgarians not being happy with our collective performance. We will do better.

Click to play video: 'Jyoti Gondek reflects on his first year as mayor of Calgary'

Jyoti Gondek reflects on her first year as mayor of Calgary

These frustrations were shared by Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp, who said she was “surprised” to see the poll results.

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“Is there a (negative) perception? Maybe. There have been some things that are trickling down that aren’t helping,” Sharp told reporters. “I’ll be honest: we have to start putting the drama aside and start doing our job and that’s governance.”

“As a new counselor, it’s hard to come into work and see new scandals on individual people,” Ward 3 Coun. said Jasmine Mian. “I think it affects public perception, but we are 15 people and I think we have to look at our own individual results.”

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Henry noted that many survey respondents felt the city council was “out of step” with the challenges and issues that average Calgarians face and to which the council directs its attention.

According to Henry, these are issues like affordability, public safety, community development and inflation.

However, Henry said the council had an opportunity to turn public perception around with the upcoming four-year budget deliberations.

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“This is a great opportunity to help identify for citizens, for voters, what their priorities are and what they are focused on,” Henry told Global News. “Your operational expenses, your services, your service levels, your infrastructure expenses, what taxes and user fees will look like for the next four years. It sets tone and direction for voters.

The poll, conducted by ThinkHQ Public Affairs Inc., surveyed 1,172 Calgarians from Oct. 17-20. Those involved came from a random stratified sample of panelists, and the company said the margin of error was around 2.8%, 19 times out of 20.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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