CALGARY -- Ward 3 Coun. Jyoti Gondek has officially launched her campaign to become the next mayor of Calgary.

Gondek, who was first elected to city council in 2017, says her experience at city hall makes her the right fit for mayor.

“I think what Calgarians are looking for is someone to right the ship, steer the course towards opportunity and prosperity and, really, to bring back that sense of stability so we can make some good, strong, rational decisions,” Gondek says.

Prior to her time on city council, Gondek volunteered with the Northern Hills Community Association and served as a citizen member on several municipal committees. She holds a PhD in urban sociology and, before winning the Ward 3 seat, worked at the Westman Centre for Real Estate Studies at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business.

“I believe every Calgarian is an investor. As soon as you made the decision to live here, that was the most important investment you’ve made and we owe you a return on that,” she says.

If elected as mayor, Gondek says one of the most pressing issues the city needs to figure out is the impact of property values when Calgary’s business community starts to struggle.

It’ll be a challenge to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and a hard-hit economy, and Gondek says the city’s top job should not go to someone without experience.

“My biggest concern for this city at this critical point in time is someone new coming in without a handle on what we need to unpack and fix.”

Mayoral field taking shape as candidates launch campaigns

Gondek is the latest sitting councillor to announce a run for mayor and the second candidate to launch a campaign on Wednesday. Ward 11 councillor Jeromy Farkas announced his intention to run in September and businessman and former Kerby Centre president Zane Novak announced his candidacy Wednesday.

Farkas and businessman Brad Field are the only two to have officially filed their papers with Elections Calgary so far.

“If Calgarians are looking for more of the same dysfunctional city council, there will be lots to choose from,” says Field.

“Calgary needs to be led and right now there’s a void in leadership.”

Even though the municipal election isn’t until October, political experts say candidates need to start to work to earn the recognition of voters.

“They’ve got to raise their profile and they’ve got 10 months, nine months to do that now,” says Duane Bratt, a political scientist with Mount Royal University.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi has not yet announced whether he will seek re-election.

Bratt says the early announcements of mayoral candidates, including two sitting councillors, may mean they believe Nenshi won’t run again.

Several more people are expected to officially join the mayoral race in the coming weeks.

“You will see, if the number gets too big, you’re going to see the serious ones start to drop off over the summer. Really the campaign begins in earnest after Labour Day. But what happens before is building a team, raising money, getting your name out there,” Bratt says.

Calgarians are set to head to the polls on October 18.