By Cristina Paolozzi, September 7 2021—
Calgary’s next municipal general election takes place on Oct. 18. Twenty-four candidates are running for mayor this year.
Dean Hopkins is a military veteran of 30 years who served in many different missions all over the world. He said that after his military service, he decided to make two promises to himself.
“I said I would find a peaceful country and a city with good kind people to live out the rest of my life in peace with no stress and just find a nine-to-five job and contribute back to society — so for the last two decades, I’ve been living the dream,” said Hopkins.
The second promise was that, should Hopkins ever witness leaders of his chosen city ineffectively managing the city, he would step up and contribute to the solution. The solution for Hopkins, was to run for mayor himself.
“The experiences I’ve [had] throughout my life has turned me into a very compassionate man,” said Hopkins. “I am no politician, I am not a businessman who wheels and deals for personal gains — I’m a leader of people who knows how to bring people together to do better things for the team and focus them in the right direction.”
Hopkins is running his campaign all by himself, and his team of 16 people who are helping his campaign is through volunteer hours only.
“I have planned my campaign by myself,” he said. “I am the only candidate who does not have campaign money — I’ve worked hard to do this because this is how dedicated I am.”
Hopkins sees the city as being on a rollercoaster, enjoying the highs but struggling through the dips. While Hopkins understands that many Calgarians have lost a lot over the course of the pandemic, realistically his goal to get the city back on track is more long term.
“At the moment, we’ve been in a trough for a very, very long time,” he said. “To be real, it’s going to take about two years to get our business sector on line and support our local businesses.”
Hopkins believes that the key to supporting businesses and attracting more people to Calgary, is through better leadership. He stressed that as mayor, his main priority on council is to facilitate teamwork and communication amongst the councillors.
Hopkins also spoke about students specifically and mentioned that his goal is to help students from working class or low income families find the specific education and qualifications they need to succeed as young adults. He believes that by investing in more opportunities for youth, there will be more incentive to continue to stay in Calgary and build a liveable and connected city.
“I’ve seen it in the eyes of the people of our city, the lack of hope,” he said. “The youth fall from one job to another. We can dedicate funds and education grants to youth in low income families and get them on that first ladder, to get them into society and contribute to our city.”
Although Hopkins recognizes that many young people in Calgary are leaving after graduation to find other opportunities, he encouraged this, stating how important it was to find certain passions and experience the world before settling down.
However, Hopkins also stressed how important it is to not forget where you came from, and to always remember to come back.
“Everyone is looking to leave the city and look for greener pastures,” he said. “And I can tell you now, there’s no greener pasture. My advice to students is to still look elsewhere, go on your adventure, get some life experience under your belt, but always remember where your home is. And should you eventually look back towards the city, come home.”
One of Hopkins’ specific platform points regarding post-secondary students is his initiative to bring speakers to do educational presentations at colleges and universities. The goal of these presentations is to raise awareness on topics like world religions, anti-bullying and crime prevention, among others.
With a strong stance against bullying in any form, Hopkins said that by providing educational presentations on a wide range of topics, a culture of tolerance and respect can be maintained in the city, especially among its youth.
Hopkins also mentioned that another way he plans to engage and consult with students as mayor is to implement youth public submission days at city council meetings to hear what young people in the city are experiencing.
Hopkins said that connecting with the city’s youth is a major weakness of Calgary’s municipal government, and plans on listening to and supporting them and their ideas.
“Interaction with the youth of our city, they’re the ones who are going to be the leaders of the future, the people who are going to bring business, and they’re going to live and grow their families, so they need a better shout,” he said. “Having youth public submissions where they come out and give presentations and overview — it’s connection.”
Since this municipal election will be asking voters to make decisions on several different issues, Hopkins encourages students to do their research and understand that this election is extremely important.
“If the students and the youth of our society want to make a difference, this year is crucial,” he said. “You need to make a vote for the person you want to lead our city and get us out of the trough and back up at the top of the roller coaster.”
Hopkins also encourages students to find him at Prince’s Island Park at the Speaker’s Corner where he will be speaking more about his platform and answering questions regarding city politics.
“Every Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. up until election day, I’m going to be down talking,” said Hopkins. “I’ll have a mic, and whether there’s one person or 100 people, I’m going to be there talking about my campaign, what I’m going to be doing for the future of our city and anything else that comes along.”
Hopkins knows there’s a lot of work to be done, but he’s committed to the promises he’s made to himself.
“I’m doing this because I made a promise to myself over three decades ago,” he said. “The main thing I want to achieve is to give people in our communities the opportunity to live a good life.”
The municipal general election will take place on Oct. 18, 2021. For more information on Dean Hopkins or the other mayoral candidates, you can find their contact information here.