Three Saskatoon city council races without an incumbent in the current civic election could change the entire dynamic of the governing body, according to a political studies professor.
“I think people underestimate the difference that three new people could make on council,” said Joe Garcea, a political scientist at the University of Saskatchewan.
“It doesn’t have to be five people, it doesn’t have to be six people; three people could make a huge difference.”
Garcea said the new councillors could change the city’s political identity through their styles when engaging in council debates, their preferences, priorities and how they get along with fellow members of council.
Wards 6, 8 and 9 all have no incumbent candidate in the election. Former Ward 6 councillor Charlie Clark is now running for mayor, former Ward 8 councillor Eric Olauson is currently a Saskatchewan MLA and Tiffany Paulsen choose not to seek her Ward 9 seat in the current election.
Both Ward 6 and 9 feature the election’s largest fields, with seven candidates each. Garcea said both races will likely be “highly competitive.”
“There will be a fragmentation of votes, significant I think,” Garcea said.
“I think to a large extent profile in the community [and] past experience may be a factor.”
Garcea said “there’s certain individuals who have a good reputation and have extensive networks of supporters within the ward,” which could force lesser known candidates to work hard in the remaining week to boost their profile.
“One way that those people running for council positions in the wards could get some media attention is if they tried to engage in the debates that are receiving a lot of attention among the mayoralty candidates,” Garcea said.
“Barring that, it’s really, I think, essentially a door to door kind of campaign.”