Opinions & Features Workshop (Oct 26th)

Photo courtesy Jeromy Farkas

Meet your mayoral candidates: Jeromy Farkas

By Cristina Paolozzi, August 20 2021—

Calgary’s next municipal general election takes place on October 18. Twenty-four candidates are running for mayor this year. 

Jeromy Farkas is the current councillor for Ward 11, and is one of the youngest councillors ever elected. He said that one of his favourite things about serving the constituents of Ward 11 has been that every day is different. 

“Getting to meet many different people, and having more than a hundred thousand bosses, it definitely hasn’t been easy through things like the pandemic,” he said. “But I would say on balance, definitely incredibly rewarding.”

Farkas said that one of the reasons he decided to run for municipal politics was because he recognized the disconnect between the entrepreneurial spirit Calgarians have, and the lack of support for this spirit at city hall. 

“The story that we tell ourselves [is one] of Calgary being open for business, being entrepreneurial, about having a can-do attitude,” he said. While Farkas agrees that Calgary, in particular Calgarians, are definitely entrepreneurial, he says city hall doesn’t match that drive.

Although there are many changes Farkas believes Calgary needs to improve, he also said that the city should celebrate what it’s already good at and try not to make Calgary something that it isn’t. 

“We already offer an incredible quality of life, affordable cost of living, great infrastructure, great services, so I think the question becomes ‘How do we make Calgary even better based on the things we’ve done well?’” he said. 

Farkas explained that he was first elected to council in October of 2017, and convocated from the University of Calgary in November of the same year. Being a student himself not too long ago, he said that much of his advocacy efforts have been around things like a low-income transit pass and partnering with Mayor Nenshi to restore the City of Calgary’s Summer Students Hiring Program.  

While issues at the post-secondary level are mostly in the purview of the provincial government, Farkas sees the two major issues affecting students in Calgary as being affordability and opportunity. Accessible housing, an up-to-date transit service and ensuring that students still receive the services they need like the UPass are all things that Farkas recognized as ways the municipal government could support its student population. 

As new grads from Calgary are often finding themselves in other cities across the country, Farkas’ goal is to have Calgary become “the destination of choice to go for the world’s smartest people to solve the world’s toughest problems.” He said that being open to new ventures in other fields is also important for cultivating a more versatile employment landscape. 

“What I would want to bring to the table as Calgary’s next mayor is to make sure that Calgary is the best place on earth to start a business, and to be able to show — especially to our young people — that given that they have so many options, they don’t have to necessarily leave Calgary in order to pursue that opportunity.”

Farkas said that pivoting from Calgary’s role in oil and gas to speak more broadly about energy and technology, gives the city a way to embrace new ideas. He also spoke about the emerging film industry as a way to “go on the offensive” and bring more diverse jobs to Calgary.

Farkas also has a youth branch of his campaign that is designed to consult with young people throughout the race. He believes that politicians aren’t usually reaching out and asking young people to be engaged, which contributes to the perception that candidates don’t seem to care about student votes.

He also mentioned that politicians should be doing more than just stopping by post-secondary institutions and that politicians should be available to answer questions about the many firsts students go through — like finding a job or renting an apartment.

“I think I bring to the table some authenticity,” he said. “If you speak to the issues rather than just speaking endlessly about what it is that apparently young people want, that I think is the key.” 

While it is common in Calgary to see more conservative politicians, Farkas spoke on his support for issues around crime prevention, mental health resources, addiction support and other social programs that are traditionally not talked about in conservative platforms. 

“I would say most Calgarians are fiscally conservative, but socially very progressive,” he said. Farkas also mentioned that traditionally, a conservative platform loses youth votes as conservative candidates tend to be socially conservative as well as fiscally conservative.  

“We’ve lost a lot of the youth to consider conservative candidates because they tend to be more socially conservative and fiscally conservative. But I think if you can speak to the issues in an informed way, and if you can be authentic to it, then anyone — old or young  — is going to at least be looking at your campaign seriously.” 

A main point in Farkas’ platform states that Calgary should be built for the 21st century. When asked what his specific vision of what this might look like, he said that adapting to the changing world around us is a priority to stay relevant in the future. 

Major projects like the Green Line or the Culture and Entertainment District are needed, Farkas believes, in order to show Calgary’s young population that there are still opportunities.

“Well, it’s sink or swim,” he said. “We have an opportunity here now to be able to show our young people that this is the best possible place to be. Unless we build for the future, we’re not going to be able to keep these folks.” 

Farkas is exploring creating an environment in Calgary that encourages financial and tech institutions and said that thinking big long term will help keep Calgary relevant. 

“We can’t sit idle,” he said. “Otherwise we are going to become irrelevant. And I think people don’t like change, but I think they’ll hate irrelevance even worse.”    

Farkas encourages young people to vote in this election, and said that voting is really how young people take ownership of their futures. 

“It’s easy to think that you don’t make a difference, but everybody can — and will — as long as they participate,” he said. “As long as you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and get involved, you can make an impact.” 

The municipal general election will take place on October 18, 2021. For more information on Jeromy Farkas or the other mayoral candidates, you can find their contact information here


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