While exploring the idea of a run for mayor, I made presentations to business groups, arts organizations, clubs, gatherings of social leaders, community leaders — really any group of Edmontonians who might listen.
The first slide of my presentation asked a simple question: “Why Edmonton?”
The presentation explained why Sarah and I choose to raise our family here, out of all the choices we had in Canada.
Edmonton has an extraordinary education system from kindergarten to the PhD in nanotechnology. The arts scene is fantastic, unpretentious and accessible. Housing is still relatively affordable, at least relative to other Canadian cities. The river valley, sports and recreation, the romance of the dark seasons and the vibrancy of the bright ones compelled us to stay and build our family here. How could you leave this behind? Most of all, our economy and our business culture are open and inviting. Our iconic businesses, arts organizations, and social ventures have shown us that we can start anything, in Edmonton, and take it to out into the world. In Edmonton, if we build it together we build it strong. It endures. That’s the quintessential quality of this city.
We all feel this, but it wasn’t until I began making these presentations that it became clear, both to me and to others in the room, that we have to articulate it better. This isn’t just marketing. Making decisions based on who we are at our best can be our strategic advantage. It’s how we can solve our problems. A city with confidence, a city that knows what makes it special, can make the right decisions together — can build together.
We’re competing with hundreds of mid-sized cities for investment, for talented people, for new businesses and events and technological innovation. Too often we’ve been beaten.
We can all feel it: this election can be the moment where Edmonton turns. This can be where we begin to show people they were wrong to underestimate Edmonton.
This isn’t my Edmonton. It’s yours. My strategy has been simple: I’ve listened to you for six years on council and during this campaign: businesspeople, artists, new immigrants, aboriginal Edmontonians, seniors, students, those of you who are struggling and those of you who have built icons and institutions in this city. We’ve developed policies and plans so you — Edmontonians — have the tools, the encouragement, the vision, the story and the framework to create something extraordinary on the banks of the North Saskatchewan.
Yes, we always must ensure fiscal prudence, but it is a time for boldness.
Why Edmonton? I feel, over the last several months, we have tried most of all to answer that question together. It was the heart of our campaign. Our platform is your distilled ambitions for your city.
Another question, then: Why Don Iveson?
My record on council is clear. I have tried, as honestly and as sincerely and as devotedly as I could, to reflect the city of your ambitions back at you. Everything they say about me being a policy wonk is true: the initiatives I will lead, as your mayor, will be the best ones for our city not because I think so, but because we have worked together to develop them. Helping you build the Edmonton you want, and telling the world about our work in a compelling and powerful way, is my grandest ambition.
I want the same things you do, and I want to devote the next four (or more, at the pleasure of Edmontonians) years of my life to bring them to reality.
That is why I am submitting myself for your consideration and why I am asking, formally, for your vote.
Thank you for listening, thank you for your feedback and thank you for participating in this process. It has been an extraordinary way to experience Edmonton and its people.
Now get out there and vote. Don’t tell your friends: bring them.