2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Photo courtesy Julian Dobre

U of C alum creates website for 2021 municipal election

By Cristina Paolozzi, September 29 2021—

With the municipal election fast approaching, many students find it difficult sometimes to access information on candidates who are running. 

Especially as the quantity of candidates in this election is staggering, with a whopping 27 people running for mayor alone, Julian Dobre, founder of Polity, believes that the process for researching candidates should be more streamlined and accessible. 

Dobre graduated in May from the University of Calgary with a JD/MBA and is currently articling at a small law firm in Calgary. He created Polity as a website where Calgarians could go to get a comprehensive summary on candidates for the 2021 municipal election. 

“If you go to the Polity site, you’re going to see all of the candidates, all of the issues, you’re going to see a bunch of polls where you can share your voice,” said Dobre. “And the candidates actually frequents the sites, so they are taking note of what we say.” 

Dobre said that throughout his university career he had been volunteering on many political campaigns. However, he noticed that much of the campaign process involved old and outdated methods that required candidates to effectively advocate for themselves through mediums like lawn signs or advertisements that can become quite costly. 

“There is a very, very big gap between the rich candidates and the candidates who don’t have large corporate or interest backings,” he said. “And unfortunately, if you don’t have a lot of money coming in, you’re just not able to get your brand out there.” 

Dobre described Polity as a “crowdfunding portal,” where voters can access the site and view some of the ideas and platform points for each candidate. 

“If the ideas are good enough, and the candidates are good enough, then it’s my hope that people will actually donate to them and kind of level the playing field.” 

Dobre believes that researching for candidates takes too long and trying to figure out each candidate’s platform becomes overwhelming, especially in an election with several candidates running for the same position. 

He sees each candidate as their own island, trying to gain support independently and accumulating traffic individually. 

“I wanted to bring all of that into one place, so if you want to research, you don’t have to go to 20 websites and you don’t have to read several different articles to figure out what this election is about,” Dobre said. “I wanted to advertise one website and bring everyone to one place and streamline and aggregate what they might need to make a voting decision.” 

Specifically with the student vote, Dobre said that he recognizes how busy students are and hopes that creating more accessible information will improve participation. 

“Unfortunately, when torn between the decision to do hours and hours of research, and no research at all, people tend to choose no research at all,” said Dobre. “So I’m hoping that if we make everything easier to get into — and students are busy — so if we can spend less hours researching to really get a grasp of the candidates in the elections, then I’m hoping that maybe participation goes up.” 

Dobre hopes that students recognize that their vote matters and that no matter who wins, student lives will inevitably be impacted. 

“There are some candidates who target students directly with their policies, other candidates could make their lives harder,” he said. “So I very much encourage students to take this opportunity to research, know who they’re voting for, realize what the election is about and make an informed decision. There’s power in the student vote.” 

Polity delivers platform summaries for all candidates running for mayor, city council and school board trustee. Visit Polity’s website for more information.

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