Bell: Mayor Gondek does not take the blame for her poor poll numbers

A newshound only asks the questions and does not control the answers

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I was looking for that good news story. I really was.

They sure need one down at Calgary city hall.

Enough of the negative. I would open the door nice and easy and Mayor Jyoti Gondek would just have to walk through.

It would be a little like the old days when a former premier and former Calgary mayor Ralph Klein would fess up, admit he screwed up, tell the newshounds how he stepped on a snake.

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And who doesn’t like it when someone takes responsibility, when they’ve gone through a rough patch, often of their own making, but then the light goes on, they realize the error of their ways, they know they have to change and admit it and then hit the reset button, do a U-turn, turn the page to a new chapter.

Sometimes they are reluctant so you spell it out. If you’re a scribbler you spell it out in a headline.

But a newshound only asks the questions and does not control the answers.

Such is the case on Tuesday.

These are cloudy days in Gondek’s Blue Sky City.

There is a poll by Leger and Gondek is doing even a little worse than two walking disasters, Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

On a scale of zero to 10 and how Gondek handles what folks consider their top issue the mayor scores a 3.9 out of 10.

A couple months earlier, the numbers were as bad and Gondek said she wasn’t focused on a “popularity contest.”

On Tuesday, two months later, three questions are asked by this scribbler to the mayor.

They aren’t hardball questions.

Question. What is your reaction to the Leger poll and the numbers concerning yourself?

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Gondek straight away talks about a survey city hall paid for and she said there are a lot of areas where city council or city hall had to deliver better on.

The mayor says people were concerned about the state of roads so they put money towards greater road repair this year.

“Council is listening,” she says.

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Gondek says she understands life is really tough for a lot of people and they are disappointed with what they’re seeing in the city and they’re disappointed “with the state they are in.”

“We will continue to do everything we can to improve people’s quality of life.”

Er … have to sharpen the point of the question.

Question. Is there anything you personally could do differently, something where you would gain more support?

“We are all here as elected officials to serve the public. Therefore we need to be listening. We need to understand what the concerns are and we need to take action as quickly as we can.”

This is something the mayor has said over and over again.

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Was she listening when she didn’t show up for the menorah lighting?

Was she listening when she supported raising taxes big-time?

Was she listening when she supported the bag bylaw and tried to save some of the law even after people pushed back?

Was she listening on the citywide rezoning?

What does listening mean?

Apparently, many Calgarians think she is not listening.

Back to the question. Is there something you will do personally?

Gondek points to fixing potholes and how council told city brass to just do it.

“I am listening and we are making every action possible in the interest of Calgarians.”

One last shot.

Question. Are you alarmed by the poll?

This is question where all you have to say is the following …

“It was a real wake-up call” and go from there.

Alarm, wake-up. Get it?

“I think it is pretty evident we are in a place where inflation has been rising year over year, month after month. People are having trouble finding a home. They’re having trouble paying rent. Their grocery bills have doubled if not tripled,” says Gondek.

“People are not in a good place.”

Jyoti Gondek
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek speaks to media during an interview opportunity in Calgary on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. Jim Wells/Postmedia

Dan McLean, a councillor who speaks his mind, says most Calgarians do not like the direction Gondek and her city council majority have gone.

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Calgarians don’t like many of their decisions and policies and they are not happy for that reason.

Does McLean think Gondek can right the ship?

“A lot of the disapproval is baked in the cake right now,” says McLean.

“It’s pretty hard to turn this ship around.”

Then again, if many people run for mayor next year, Gondek could win with 30 per cent of the vote.

“I am worried,” says McLean.

“You could use stronger words than that. You might say terrified.”

And does he think we’ll see big changes from the mayor?

“I think there’s going to be a lot of big talk. We’ll see if there are any big changes.”

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