Polls indicate that Don Iveson will be the next mayor of Edmonton. Of course, polling has been about as on-target lately as the Edmonton Eskimo offence. Polls also said Christie Clark would not be the premier of B.C. (she is), and that Danielle Smith could be the premier of Alberta (she isn’t).

But Iveson’s lead over Karen Leibovici and Kerry Diotte seem to be too big to be wrong, and there is a very good chance that Iveson will win. I won’t be particularly upset if he does, but neither will I be excited — and I can say the same about Leibovici. (I can’t say the same about Diotte, but I’m not even considering a Diotte victory.)

I was hoping this election would be a good one, but it has disappointed. With Diotte not a real factor, the race is between Leibovici and Iveson. And the way I see it, the only real difference between the two main challengers is about 30 years experience. (A note on Diotte: I wish he had just run for his guaranteed council seat. I like a lot of what Diotte says — he’s the kind of financial curmudgeon a council needs — but a mayor needs to project positivity, not negativity. He could have been a powerful player on an inexperienced city council. That’s a shame.)

Seriously, does anyone really believe that Edmonton will be substantially different in four years under Don Iveson as mayor than it would be under Karen Leibovici as mayor?  Both are, essentially, liberal progressives. They both promise better roads, more LRT, watching your tax dollars, blah blah blah.

I suppose there are differences in their policies, but who has time to wade through all their statements on the issues? Check out Iveson’s website: endless, boring term papers on every issue under the sun. Leibovici’s is better, but not by much. Only the most dedicated of voter (and that would not be me) would have the time or inclination to wade through thousands of words of policy and promises. (Note to both candidates: there is something called a ‘bullet point’ that works very well. Look into it.) If they differ in substance on any major issue, they haven’t made it clear to me.

This is what makes the poll today in the Edmonton Journal so amusing to me. The Leger poll found 43% believe Iveson “has the best vision for the long term future of the city”.  My guess is that you could ask that 43% to outline Iveson’s vision of the future of Edmonton, and they wouldn’t have an answer. Iveson scored heavily again on the question of “who will focus on the right priorities for Edmonton”.  Again, is there really any major difference between Leibovici and Iveson that would rate such a disparity?

So why the split? Forget the policies — I think there is a clue to be found in the endorsements of both candidates, and they way they present them.

Leibovici took out a full-page ad in the Journal listing prominent Edmontonians who endorse her candidacy. It’s a who’s who of Edmonton established money, with a smattering of some loathsome Conservative MLAs (interestingly for a former Liberal MLA, no support from Liberals). Collectively, they’re worth hundreds of millions. It’s the Establishment, if I may use an old 1960s term.

Iveson seems to be ignoring the mainstream media (I don’t recall seeing any ads for him in the Journal), and putting his money on the web. His list of endorsements is less well known, mostly young up and comers, the kinds of names you see on those self-serving ‘Top 40 under 40’ lists.   Let’s call them the Future Establishment.

The difference, as I see it, is generational. Leibovici deserves a shot at running the show more than Iveson, whose resume is anemic at best.  But it may come down to how Edmontonians seem themselves reflected in the mayoralty candidates. Are we a little dowdy and middle aged, or young and moderately handsome? We’ll know on Monday.


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