Bell: Gondek, Calgary's most unpopular mayor ever, sinks further

While only seven per cent strongly approve of the mayor, we see 48 per cent strongly disapprove

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Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it just did.

That is, if you’re Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek.

A poll from the well-respected ThinkHQ nose-counters hits the streets late Tuesday.

The number-crunching is on Gondek and Calgary city council.

Let’s start with Gondek.

In December, right around Christmas, Gondek received a poll equivalent to a lump of coal.

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She had 30 per cent approval, a record low for a sitting Calgary mayor.

Now it’s 26 per cent approval, four points lower.

Only seven in 100 Calgarians strongly approve of Gondek.

Methinks most of them live on social media complaining about how everyone is unfair to the mayor.

While only seven per cent strongly approve of the mayor, we see 48 per cent strongly disapprove.

That’s almost half of Calgarians doing the strongly disapproving with another 16 per cent saying they somewhat disapprove.

Since March 2022 Gondek’s approval numbers, nowhere near 50 per cent, have gone slowly down, down, down.

If you look at a part of the city or a particular gender or the type of community or an age of an individual or a household income where Gondek shines I will give you a piece of advice.

Forget about it.

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The best that can be said is in the inner city Gondek’s approval numbers are 34 per cent.

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Of course, even in the inner city the mayor’s disapproval numbers are 58 per cent.

Marc Henry of ThinkHQ says the numbers are “unprecedentedly low” and interesting for more than one reason.

The historic record low number shows Gondek has gone deeper in the hole. He says that’s been driven mostly by such policies as the bogus bag bylaw city council was forced to deep-six after huge public outrage.

And then there’s the blanket rezoning or citywide rezoning. Whatever term you prefer, it is the same political firestorm.

But there’s more. There’s the busted pipe issue and a city in a state of local emergency.

As nose-counter Henry points out, there’s a tendency to rally around the leader when citizens see a crisis.

Often, leaders get more public support.

“No such boost for Mayor Gondek,” says Henry.

If there is a boost but it’s not showing up it could be because of “unmeasured lower ratings on other issues.”

Or Calgarians might just not see Gondek doing a good enough job leading the way on the punctured pipe issue.

The poll was done from June 13 to June 19 with a 2.9 per cent margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of this size.

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The state of emergency was declared June 15.

Water main repairs
Construction crews continue work on the water main breaks in Montgomery in northwest Calgary on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

Then there’s the city council with its Gondek-friendly majority.

Only one in four Calgarians say they approve of city council. Almost no one strongly approves.

Again, this is a record low.

Only one in three approve of their councillor. As with Gondek, this is down four points since December.

Only seven per cent strongly approve.

Let’s face it, this is ugly arithmetic in the extreme.

For approval of city council overall, the southeast of the city is the least impressed area where no area is impressed.

“Council must also be doing some soul-searching at this time with their record-low approval numbers dropping again,” says ThinkHQ’s Henry.

A rational individual would think so but some of these councillors must live in a bubble or not really care what the people they represent think or don’t believe so many people disapprove of what they are doing and how they are acting.

Seeing them at city hall, some of them just act as if there is nothing to see here. Pride goes before a fall.

The poll notes some city council members have a better approval rating than others.

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Those who have drawn the most negative heat are the ones who supported citywide rezoning.

Calgary city council
Council listens to public panelists during the hearing into the City of Calgary’s proposed blanket rezoning at city hall on Monday, April 22, 2024. Brent Calver/Postmedia

As for Mayor Gondek, her re-election prospects in the fall of next year look, in the words of the pollster, “pretty grim.”

It’s taken almost three years for Gondek to dig this hole and, again from the poll, “turning things around is pretty tough.”

Gondek is a long shot to get back in as mayor.

Then again there could be a vote split, where those who want real change at city hall have two, three, four or more candidates for mayor running against the current mayor and council’s record.

If those folks can’t get their act together, who knows?

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