Only 38 per cent of Edmontonians believe Mayor Don Iveson and the 12 city councillors deserve to be re-elected, according to a new poll one year out from the 2021 municipal election.
The poll, conducted for Postmedia by Leger, found residents are split across the board on their support for Edmonton’s current council. About 31 per cent of respondents said council doesn’t deserve to be re-elected next October while another 31 per cent remain on the fence.
Overall, just over half of Edmontonians surveyed gave the mayor and council a positive rating for their work over the past three years, with 22 per cent noting a poor performance.
Ian Large, Leger’s executive vice-president for Western Canada, said the results highlight a “disinterested electorate.” Less than one-third of respondents knew the election is scheduled for next October.
“What’s most interesting from the Edmonton point of view is that people are not very impressed with this council. They’re not completely dissatisfied, but they’re not overwhelmingly satisfied,” Large said in an interview with Postmedia. “Generally speaking, it’s been pretty lacklustre. They haven’t blown anybody away with what they’re doing and they’ve got a year to go.”
Breaking the results down by age, most of the support for Edmonton’s council is in the younger voting population while older voters show more disappointment.
About 61 per cent of eligible voters between 18 and 34 offered a positive performance rating while only 43 per cent of those aged 55-64 agreed. Instead, more than half of voters in that age group gave council a poor or fair rating, compared to 32 per cent in the younger age group.
The discrepancy in support can be attributed to this council’s focus on “social issues” of importance to younger residents, Large said, pointing to the Black Lives Matter movement, reconciliation and homelessness.
“We know historically that the younger folks don’t tend to vote in the same numbers as the older generations do,” Large said. “This council over the last four years, and particularly led by Don Iveson, has been active on the files that are of interest to young people.”
The majority of Edmontonians support how council is handling the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, but as the city looks to recover, many are weary of council’s budget management and taxation policies.
Looking at 12 specific issues, 59 per cent of respondents have a positive review of the COVID-19 response, while only 39 per cent support council’s managing of the budget. About 36 per cent said council has been poor in fiscal responsibility when it comes to property taxes.
Only Ward 10 Coun. Michael Walters has formally declared he won’t be running for re-election. Iveson and all other councillors haven’t announced their intentions.If they do decide to enter the race, Large said council has a lot of work ahead of them to increase support.
“To come up from essentially 60 per cent of Edmontonians who either don’t know or don’t think you deserve to be re-elected, that’s a big problem for them,” he said. ” I think that’s where council’s going to have the trouble. They’re going to have to be, as we’re moving forward, engaging people and speaking candidly about the tough choices that have had to been made and, more importantly, about where they’re going to go next.”
The poll, conducted online from Oct. 2-5, surveyed 500 Edmontonians. As a non-random survey, the poll doesn’t have a margin of error.