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Football Cities: Where the Stars are Bred

This is the final look at the metro, state, and regional breakdown of the 2012 NFL player class.

Having looked at where all players come from, this one looks at where the best ones are bred. Using Pro Bowl appearances, All-Pro team recognition, and Offensive/Defensive player and rookie of the year awards, I calculated a point total for each of the 254 active players who have earned any (or all) of the above recognitions. Here’s how metro areas perform. In total, 81 metro areas have produced at least one active player with one of the accolades. 10 have produced 4 or more.

Miami, second to Los Angeles in overall players, jumps ahead in both stars and points accumulated. Established players like Steve Hutchinson (OG, Tennessee), Andre Johnson (WR, Houston) and Devin Hester (WR/KR, Chicago) lead the way, while emerging stars like Patrick Peterson (CB/KR, Arizona) and Jason Pierre-Paul (DE, New York Giants) figure to keep the metro’s reputation for success alive. Los Angeles similarly boasts a combination of veteran stars like Tony Gonzales (TE, Atlanta), Troy Polamalu (S, Pittsburgh) and Steve Smith (WR, Carolina) to go along with ones in their prime like Clay Matthews (LB, Green Bay) and DeSean Jackson (WR, Philadelphia).

The New York City metro boasts New Jersey-bred stars like Brian Cushing (LB, Houston) and Ray Rice (RB, Baltimore). Houston has produced young stars like Brian Orakpo (LB, Washington) and Andy Dalton (QB, Cincinnati). It’s also the home of this year’s first overall pick, Andrew Luck, who figures to join the list of stars soon.

New Orleans is home of Peyton (QB, Denver) and Eli (QB, New York Giants) Manning, along with veteran (Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis) and young (Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh) star receivers. Atlanta’s stars figure to dominate this list for a long time, led by Calvin Johnson (WR, Detroit), Cam Newton (QB, Carolina), and Eric Berry (S, Kansas City), and Philly is home to two quarterbacks named Matt (Ryan of Atlanta and Schaub of Houston).

Beyond the top 10, 9 metros produced 3 stars, 19 produced 2, and 42 produced 1 each.

Metro vs. Small Town
75% of all players are from a Metropolitan Statistical Area, and the proportion of stars is slightly higher at 77%.

However, the number drops below that to 71% when we count the share of points earned.

Notable stars from outside metro areas include Ed Reed, Brian Urlacher, Charles Woodson, Julius Peppers, and Champ Bailey.

Yet, the large metros (and a handful of football hotbeds such as New Orleans) are leading the way in both quantity and quality.

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Jasper Ave Blues: The Employment Challenge

A recent blog post by Edmonton Journal writer Elise Stolte caught my attention. In it, she highlights a project approved but on hold, to be located on the popular 104th Street, Edmonton’s ‘Warehouse District’. The reason? Melcor – the developer – can’t find tenants.

Riding By

It seemed curious at first, given the wave of recent announcements of new condos, and renovated and reopened buildings such as the Jaffer and Mercer. Many, including myself, have trumpeted the growing appeal of downtown – in particular 104th – for businesses and residents alike.

In her story, Stolte quotes Dan Eggert of Melcor (disclosure: Dan is a friend), who makes what I believe is a salient point about Edmonton’s economy – that many of Edmonton’s current employers don’t prioritize downtown. One could go further and identify the fact that many of Edmonton’s leading industries just aren’t suited for a truly urban environment too – particularly industries in the petrochemical, and manufacturing sectors, amongst other highlighted by EEDC. It’s one of the major reasons Edmonton and the region’s business activity is spread out – almost node-like – rather than being centralized to the degree that of other cities’ might be.

While diversifying Edmonton’s economy would be a positive move, it is much easier said than done. It is also fraught with risk, should government be tempted or pressured to incent certain developments. Michael Porter, a leading expert on the competitiveness of regions, has written about how this process of “picking winners” rarely works out.

Something to think about, then, is what is – in the short to medium term at least – the most efficient way to encourage greater development downtown, knowing what Edmonton is. Business growth in the area will most likely continue, but may have limited potential right now. A better strategy may be to continue encouraging – and where it makes sense providing incentives for – residential development. Build that, and restaurants, cafes, pubs, and other commercial establishments will follow to serve the growing market. One might even go so far as to think at least a handful of these new downtown residents will be entrepreneurs who may want to set up shop close to home.

It’s a realistic and achievable goal for Edmonton to increase downtown activity, and fast (though I disagree with some of the ways it’s attempting to do so). Activity comes in many forms, and right now it looks to me like building a stronger and larger residential community is the most effective way to go.

A Fracking Concern

They’re going to be making steel in Youngstown again. Taken in isolation, this is great news, pointing to progress in an area that has struggled economically for the past 3-4 decades, and – as the story linked above – points out, lost half its population since 1950.

The steel mill, however, will be producing parts to use in hydraulic fracturing, fracking for short. This process is gaining support in the midwest as a means of economic recovery, through extracting natural gas found in the Marcellus Shale Formation.

Youngstown Sheet and Tube
The old Youngstown Sheet and Tube factory.Photo by bobengland, using a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical 2.0 License.

Much of my interest in writing about this subject comes from a desire to know more about it. Instinctively, I question whether investing in non-renewable energy is the best long-term strategy for any region. There are renewable energy opportunities in Ohio and the Midwest, and places like Austin, Texas are investing in clean energy manufacturing, which might put them even further ahead in the long run.

Lending more support to the clean energy apporach is the increasing number of signs that solar energy will be price competitive soonthis map says in about 12 years for the major Ohio cities, and sooner for much of the rest of the United States. Cities and regions that are investing now are likely to have a leg up going forward.

Leaving the economy aside for a moment, there are serious environmental concerns about the process (Wikipedia has a well-sourced list, and the pros-cons are well-debated here), most of which would have their effect felt close to home. The public health and safety concerns of residents shouldn’t be overlooked or underestimated.

Deindustrialization of Youngstown is well-document, and I can’t begin to understand the affect this has had on the region. Coming from a region with a resource-heavy economy that has experienced booms and busts in my lifetime, I can empathize. The immediate economic returns of resources – in particular energy – are hard to resist. Given the history of the past few decades, and in light of the recession of the past few years, I don’t fault any citizen or city in that region for jumping at a possibility for economic growth.

But resources and their boom/bust cycles cause instability, and I think most citizens want predictable, reliable economic growth. Would clean/green industry, or other paths to economic development be a better investment in the long run? There are lots of possibilities for the Midwest, and many urban enthusiasts – including myself and the author of this excellent post – have been pleasantly surprised by what we found when visiting cities like Cleveland. Fracking might be the option right now, but I’m thinking a bright future for former industrial centers may come from other sources.

2011 and 2012 in Review and Preview: A List of My Favourite Things

The new year started two days ago, but for many people (myself included), today is the first day back at work in 2012, so it feels like the official beginning of the new year.

I like to make lists. They are more often than not incredibly ambitious, meaning my ability to make lists far exceeds my ability to complete all the tasks on them in a timely manner. On my to-do list (resolutions, if you will) for 2012 is to write more frequently, and regularly. Ideally 2-3 times per week, but given my pace over the past two years, once a week would be making huge strides. I also had an ambitious to-do list over the holidays, which included writing a long, narrative, year in review. That never got completed, my time instead going towards more pressing, if mundane tasks such as cleaning my home, along with more enjoyable things like spending time with family and friends, and lazy mornings lying on my couch, drinking copious amounts of coffee while watching English Premier League soccer.

Anyway, I want to post some retrospective, so inspired by Andy’s post, here are a few of my favourite things from 2011. I’m not going to do a ranked list, nor am I going to limit them to things that occurred in the past 12 months. I’m also going to list things I’m looking forward to in 2012.

Finally, there’s a crowdsourcing element. Based on this list, I’m hoping readers can recommend things they think I – or anyone interested in what’s on this list – would also enjoy.

Without further ado, the best of 2011-12.

Cities
Favourite cities I visited:
Boston, MA – one of my favourite cities, if not my favourite, since the first time I visited. I could spend days lounging on Boylston and Newbury Street and be perfectly happy. I also stayed in the redeveloping South Waterfront district for the first time. I was holed up at the Westin and Convention Centre for most of it, but enjoyed the little bit I saw.

Lyon, France – admittedly, I’m consciously being somewhat of a contrarian putting this on the list instead of Paris. I loved both. But I found Paris’ major attractions to be overrated (except Musee d’Orsay). I love walking around both cities, admiring the architecture, streetscapes, and enjoying quiet afternoons at cafes and brasseries. But in Lyon you can do that with fewer hordes of tourists and less aggressive servers.

Chicago, IL – visited twice, first time since I was a kid. Will definitely go back at least once this year. The architecture is amazing (I cannot recommend the Chicago Architecture Foundation boat tour enough), Wrigley Field is a gem, and the Lakefront Trail is one of my favourite places to run. Also, Millennium Park. Everything about it is amazing. And the Loop has a more than sufficient concentration of Dunkin’ Donuts to keep me happy.

Looking west from the Wabash Avenue bridge

Portland, OR – third straight year I visited, and cannot say enough good things. In the 55 or so hours I spent there, squeezed in a lengthy visit at the Market, went to an art show/auction, ran a half marathon, had a few amazing meals, caught a free concert, and also managed to more than catch up on sleep too.

Favorite website about cities:
The Atlantic Cities – launched in September, the site has a great roster of writers, and interesting content every day.

Upcoming in 2012 – I’m interested in focusing more on urban economic development. I’ve always been more interested in the planning side, but got connected to this through the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City’s Urban 2.0 conference in October.

Ideas (and News/Current Events)
Occupy Wall Street – Which I wrote about here.
Ending Homelessness – there are some amazing initiatives happening locally and abroad towards this end, and I feel privileged to contribute towards it through my day job.
The Canadian General Election – the quiet Conservative march to a majority, the Jack Layton-driven surge that boosted the NDP (followed by his tragic death mere months later), and the collapse of the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois made for probably the most fascinating federal election since at least 1993.

Upcoming in 2012: The Alberta General Election. Politics in my home province might just get interested. Or not. But I’m curious to see what happens this spring. Learning more about poverty (and how to end it).

Sports
The Last Day of the MLB Regular Season and Entire Playoffs – The last day of the season was devastating as a Red Sox fan, but everything that night and aftewards was thrilling as a fan. Chris Carpenter’s Game 5 CG SO win over Philly in the NLDS, and the epic comeback in Game 6 of the World Series stand out.

Women’s Soccer – I seriously enjoyed the Women’s World Cup this summer. It offered a high quality level of play, without any of the defensive grind or diving that often sully the men’s international game. The top american league, Women’s Professional Soccer, offers a pretty good concentration of talent on 6 teams (now 5) as well. The Western New York Flash throwing out a front line of Marta, Christine Sinclair, and Alex Morgan is the women’s soccer equivalent of the concentration of “galacticos” that you find on Real Madrid, AC Milan, or Barcelona. Speaking of…

FC Barcelona – one of the most enjoyable squads I’ve ever watched in any sport. The sheer talent, and precision skill and passing is just an absolute joy to watch every time they’re on the pitch.

Fantasy Baseball – I finally won my league (in the 6th season), claiming not only the regular season crown, but also the scoring title (only done twice) as well as surviving the randomness of the playoff round to win that as well (first one to win all three). I have decided to enjoy this moment and become insufferable, declaring myself the first “Triple Crown Champion”, much to the annoyance of the rest of my league, I’m sure. Of course, karma is already rearing its ugly head, as I’ve lost Ryan Braun for a 1/3 of next season to suspension. But who cares? Flags (or in this case, league champion bobbleheads) fly forever.

For 2012: Euro 2012, Yu Darvish in MLB (I hope), a Red Sox club that doesn’t implode (I really hope)

Music
The Head and the Heart – if I had to pick a favourite album of the year, this would be it. Beautiful, melodic songs that will never get old.
My Morning Jacket – loved the new album, and caught them in concert at the Roosevelt Auditorium in Chicago.
Jazz – I’ve really started getting into the genre, anything from Miles Davis or Steve Coleman, to contemporary artists like Avishai Cohen.
Wilco – always. But the new album is enjoyable too.
Brian Fallon – The lead singer of The Gaslight Anthem also delivered an album with his side project, Horrible Crowes. A nice deviation from Gaslight’s sound.

For 2012 – Finally checking out the new Roots and Black Keys albums. Jessica Lea Mayfield, who I just discovered through Austin City Limits. Further exploring the jazz genre.

Television
Parks and Rec – this is literally the best show on television.
How I Met Your Mother – after a shaky couple of years, this season has delivered in spades so far.
Austin City Limits – The Decemberists/Gillian Welch and Americana Music Festival episodes in particular were great.
The Wire – started in 2010, finished this year. Just an incredible 60 hours or so of television. I don’t know what else to say about it.

For 2012 – 30 Rock, which returns next week. This Old House, I have the entire Bedford season to catch up on. The remaining new episodes of Austin City Limits look great.

Movies
Moneyball – I don’t watch many movies, but I greatly enjoyed this one. Different enough from the book that I didn’t have to compare apples to apples, but well written and executed as a story.

For 2012 – The Dark Knight Rises, On the Road, The Great Gatsby

Books
Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America by Paul Tough – great narrative about the effort to overcome the challenges created by poverty and give kids in Harlem a shot at a better future.
The Extra 2% by Jonah Keri – how the small-market Tampa Bay Rays are able to compete with (and beat) the big money Yankees and Red Sox.
The Dragonfly Effect by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith – interesting look at good uses of social media.
For 2012 – The Art of Fielding, which I started on New Year’s Day. So far, it’s fantastic. Re-reading On the Road and The Great Gatsby in anticipation of the movie versions being released. Michael Chabon’s new book Telegraph Avenue.

Magazines/Websites
The Atlantic – a long-time favourite, it delivered some great long-form essays in the magazine, and regular interesting content on the website.
Chamber of Comics – Mike Winters’ comics are brilliant. That is all.

For 2012 – suggestions welcome.

Other Things
The Holiday Half and 5K – fun race, complete with Christmas carrollers along the course, excellent swag, and ample post-race food and drinks. I would have enjoyed this more had I not been running with an injury (which forced me to jog the last 5 miles), but that’s not any fault of the race. Will definitely do this again in 2012.
(Farmers’) Markets – I go to the 104th Street Market in Edmonton every Saturday I’m here. Greatly enjoyed the Portland Saturday Market a few weeks ago as well.
Libraries – I probably get more ROI on my $12 Edmonton Public Library membership than I do on anything else all year.
Torres Wine – discovered them this year, fantastic reds (especially the blends) and whites at affordable prices.
Restaurants – brunch at Cafe Nell in Portland, the Rib Crib in Philadelphia, pretty much everywhere I ate in France.
Airlines – Thoroughly enjoyed flying United several times, as well as Horizon/Alaska Air on my Portland trip in December.

For 2012 – Chicago Marathon (and other races TBD), Oregon and Washington wineries. Finally eating at The Girl and the Goat in Chicago.

We Should All Be Bruins Fans Tonight

The Vancouver Canucks franchise was in its second season the last time the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup. Tonight, they meet in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. History favours Vancouver as the home team – both on odds, and if you go by recent history, the home team has won every game so far this series.

The other day, one of my favourite sportswriters, Jonah Keri, wrote a piece called Why the Bruins Shouldn’t Win the Stanley Cup. This is a rare case where I disagree. The Bruins are the team anyone should want to win tonight. I’m going to respond to a few of Jonah’s arguments below.

(Full disclosure: I support the Bruins, and all Boston teams. And I’m also a proud Canadian).

No one in Canada wants you to win, of course. Not when a Canadian team might bring the Cup back home for the first time in 18 years.

Yes, this is the case for some Canadian fans, but it shouldn’t be. Also, many Canadians shudder at the thought of how boastful Canucks fans will be after their first Cup win. If you cheer for the Oilers or Flames during the regular season, why should you suddenly adopt their rival simply because they play in Canada? Does this prove we’re somehow superior at hockey because a team that is based in our country, but composed of players from several different nationalities, wins the Cup? Nonsense. We prove our mettle as a hockey nation by routinely winning international competitions. With Canadian born and bred players. Claiming national pride because of the Canucks is based on outdated concepts of nationalism, and as ridiculous as saying Spain is the best soccer country in the world because Barcelona just won the Champions League (on a technical point – they are the best because their national side is the defending Euro Cup and World Cup champion. Just like we’re the defending Olympic hockey champions).

Sure, Boston was once a suffering sports town.

Now? You sound like the douchebag who bitches that(…)

Meanwhile, the Canucks have existed for 41 years and haven’t won jack.

Sure, Boston has won in other sports, but many fans support the Bruins in the way they don’t for other local teams. It would be like saying “I don’t feel so bad for the Expos losing in the ’81 playoffs because the Habs just won 4 Cups in a row”.

Also, looking at their past experience, it’s clear that Boston fans have had it worse. Vancouver has 4 decades of middling management, with a couple of lucky runs involved. Boston has had good teams that couldn’t quite get over the hump, and in some cases lost in heartbreaking fashion.

In their first Stanley Cup finals appearance (1982), Vancouver had a losing record (and overall, 11th best out of 21 teams). They got swept by the New York Islanders, the 3rd of 4 consecutive Stanley Cups they would win. In their second appearance (1994), the Canucks were the 7th seed in the West, and made it all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals before losing to the New York Rangers – who had the best record in the league that year. Neither result says “tortured” as much as it says the team overperformed, and ultimately probably didn’t deserve a better result.

Now compare that to the Bruins. They’ve appeared in 5 finals since, and respectively those teams finished the regular season in 1st, 3rd, 2nd, 4th, and 1st overall. Each time they were a worthy finalist, but couldn’t get over the hump against some of the best teams of all time – the ’75 Broad Street Bully Flyers, the Habs dynasty in ’77 and ’78 (the ’77 club is considered the best of all time) and the ’88 and ’90 Oilers – the ’88 version was Gretzky’s last year with the club, and the ’90 version had much of the dynasty still in tact, and Bill Ranford playing out of his mind in goal.

Now you want to talk torture? Two of their great players – Bobby Orr and Cam Neely – saw their careers cut short due to knee injuries. In Neely’s case, it was after a knee on knee hit from notorious cheap shot artist Ulf Samuelsson. How about the ’79 semi-final, where Game 7 against Montreal turned on a critical too many men on the ice penalty. How about last year’s playoffs, where they led Philly 3-0, lost Game 4 in overtime, then blew the series after also holding a 3-0 lead early in Game 7.

I watched a Bruins-Lightning game this year from the nosebleeds with the diehard fans. It was awesome.

This Vancouver club had the best record in the regular season, but Boston was tied for 7th. Neither is in the final by fluke. You could argue this is the first time the Canucks had a club that legitimately could have expected to reach the final. Maybe they’ve suffered through 40 years of bad management, but so do many teams. This is nothing compared to what Bruins fans have endured.

Those cities have seen enormous sports heartbreak, their spirits deflated as they trudge through January blizzards waiting for their shot at the big one.

That quote is in reference to places like Minnesota, Winnipeg, and Buffalo. Some cities have truly endured heartbreak with their teams. Buffalo lost 4 Super Bowls in a row, when they probably had the better team at least twice. They lost the ’98 Cup final because Brett Hull kicked in the winning goal. Minnesota, the most hockey-mad state in the US, suffered through mediocre management of the North Stars, got lucky and made the final in ’91 (against a much better Penguins team, led by Mario), then watched the team move to Dallas just as Mike Modano was coming into his prime (they won the aforementioned ’98 Cup). In their first decade, the expansion Minnesota Wild have been nothing short of uninspiring.

No one will likely ever be tortured more than Cleveland fans, who came a game short of the Super Bowl twice in the ’80s, losing in such heartbreaking fashion that each game can be described in two words (The Drive and The Fumble), then watched a potential baseball dynasty break up in the ’90s (losing one World Series on a critical error by their 2B). This century? They only had the best athlete to play in Cleveland since Jim Brown break up with them on a nationally televised program.

What do Vancouver fans know about suffering? Maybe losing Game 7 at home, especially if it’s in heartbreaking fashion, will teach them what fans of other teams have gone through. Until that happens, the Vancouver Canucks will remain an unlikable, dirty hockey team. Seeing them win the Cup isn’t something anyone but the most hardcore Canucks fan should want to happen.

What’s so unlikeable about this Canucks club, you ask? I’ll leave the final word to Jonah:

This series should have reinforced pro-Bruins sentiment. Vancouver’s Alex Burrows biting Patrice Bergeron’s fingers was a punk move, one that would have been handled with a flurry of right hooks to the head if this were 30 years ago and the game hadn’t turned away from fighting. Maxim Lapierre’s Game 2 taunt, where he stuck his fingers in Bergeron’s face and dared him to bite back, wasn’t much better.

And there’s The Hit. Five minutes into Game 3, Aaron Rome lined up Nathan Horton, watched him get rid of the puck, took three strides, dipped his shoulder, leapt for the head, and blew him up. However you felt about the hit, you had to feel for Horton, laid out on the ice, his teammates and 17,565 spectators looking on in horror, medics fumbling with a stretcher, trying to stabilize the big Ontarian before the frantic ride to Mass General.

Go Bruins.

Pyramid Power: August 14 Ranking of Edmonton City Council Races

This blog has been silent for the past couple of months. In large part, it’s due to the challenge of finding time to write, but also having been away for work and then vacation, fallen out of the habit of updating it. I intended to write more about the Edmonton Civic Election, but other sites have provided good coverage, and the Edmonton Journal has a good roundup of the announced candidates.

Lots has happened since May. Another incumbent, Ron Hayter, announced his intentions to retire, several more candidates declared publicly and began campaigning, and a(nother) potential referendum on the City Centre Airport has started to overshadow everything else.

With the Journal’s roundup, I don’t see a need to keep updating a list of candidates, but I do think it’s time to once again rank the races from most to least competitive (here are my May rankings). I intend to update these rankings a few more times as we get closer to the election, but that will probably be the extent of my coverage here. Keep in mind this is just my impression, and it will no doubt change as we get closer to both nomination day and election day.

City Hall at Night

The races are ranked from most to least competitive, in four categories:

Toss-Ups: No clear favourite, and could go any of two or more ways at this point.
Competitive: A leading candidate/favourite at this point, but a race that should be a close vote and could go another way.
Leaning Safe: A safe seat for now, but could become competitive or a toss-up in the right circumstances.
Safe: A safe seat for the incumbent, which doesn’t figure to change without something dramatic happening.

Toss-Ups

1. Ward 11
Declared: Shane Bergdahl, Kerry Diotte, Vishal Luthra, Chinwe Okelu

This is a total crapshoot. I could see these four finishing in any order at this point. They all have strengths and weaknesses, and are all out there. Bergdahl has a long history of community involvement, but is untested as a candidate. Luthra has ties to the community, but is also untested. Okelu has name recognition from running before, but has never been elected, and was surpassed by Amarjeet Sohi in the ’07 Ward 6 race. Diotte is well known, and has 2007 candidate Chuck McKenna (who did well in these polls) managing his campaign, but you have to think he’s going to be polarizing to some extent, given his out-spoken views.

If I were to guess right now, I’d say the most likely order of finish is 1) Bergdahl 2) Okelu 3) Diotte 4) Luthra. But like I said, I can see those four in any order come election day.

Competitive

2. Ward 3
Declared: Terry Demers, Dave Loken

This is the other race without an incumbent, and it could get competitive in a hurry.

Loken, a leader with the Coalition of Civic Unions and the runner-up in ’04 and ’07 (in Ward 2), declared a few months back, and has been campaigning.

His challenger at the moment is Terry Demers. Demers ran in Ward 5 in 2004, and for the past several years worked as Ron Hayter’s Executive Assistant at City Hall. She won’t be well-known to the public, but she will know many of the key players and community leaders in Ward 3 well.

Loken should have a strong advantage, having a several month head start on Demers. Yet, he hasn’t come particularly close to Krushell or Hayter the past two elections, and didn’t really grow his vote from ’04 to ’07. I think he’s the favourite at this point, hence why this is listed as ‘competitive’ not ‘toss-up’, but I would not overlook Terry’s chances here.

3. Ward 7
Declared: Tony Caterina, Brendan Van Alstine

Tony Caterina, the incumbent, is not necessarily in friendly territory here. He is working hard to get out there, but he also finished third here in ’07 (behind Gibbons and Voogd), and I’m not sure the Alberta Ave/Highlands area is the most receptive to a fiscal conservative message, or a pro-ECCA argument, the two issues most people likely associate him with.

That’s not to say Van Alstine will knock him off. He’s worked hard and campaigned for months, but Caterina likely has the money advantage, and he has been out in the community. I still see Tony as the man to beat here, but as we start to get a clearer picture closer to election day, that may change.

Lean Safe

4. Ward 8
Declared: Lori Heaney, Ben Henderson, Hana Razga

Henderson should be safe. He’s a well-respected, hard-working councillor just finishing his first term. Yet his challengers (at least Heaney, I haven’t seen enough of Razga to comment) are running hard. He certainly won’t be able to coast to victory, nor do I think he intends to, but the margin could end up closer than we think.

5. Ward 6
Declared:
Cris Basualdo, Jane Batty, Bryan Kapitza

All things aside, I think Jane Batty is the most (or second most) vulnerable incumbent in this election. This is not a comment on her performance, rather an observation that – whatever the reason – she’s been unable to grow her vote in her two re-election bids. She edged out Ben Henderson and Lewis Cardinal to finish first in Ward 4 last election, but in a head-to-head race against either may not have been so lucky. I think in 2010, either would win fairly comfortably against her.

But, she’s ranked here because I haven’t seen much from her two opponents yet that convinces me they’ll be able to challenge her. She may get lucky and avoid a serious challenger in 2010, but if she seeks any subsequent terms, I doubt she’ll be so lucky.

6. Ward 1
Declared: Andrew Knack, Jamie Post, Linda Sloan

Linda Sloan is another incumbent who could be in trouble in the right situation – despite her work in the community and on the seniors’ file, she’s been vocal on some controversial issues, and she’s not the media’s favourite, but for now she seems safe. Both Knack and Post have strong backgrounds in the communities, and are solid candidates, but neither seems to have caught on yet.

7. Ward 4
Declared: Dan Backs, Ed Gibbons, Scott Robb
Two former Liberal MLAs square off, with a young “Father, Husband, Security Officer, Ordained Satanic Priest” aiming to play spoiler.

Gibbons is now a three-term incumbent on Council, and has earned a reputation as a steady, if not spectacular performer. He’s been very effective working with the Capital Region Board, and is notable for introducing the motion last summer for a phased closure of the Edmonton City Centre Airport.

Backs is a one-term MLA (2004-08). Elected as a Liberal, he was kicked out of the caucus, then sat (and ran) as an independent, finishing third. He shouldn’t be a serious challenge for the popular Gibbons, but Backs did well running as an independent in ’08, and he’ll appeal to pro-ECCA voters. There’s enough here to think that it might become interesting.

Safe

8. Ward 12
Declared: Vikram Bagga, Amarjeet Sohi

Sohi is a popular, hard-working one-term incumbent. He should have no problem earning re-election, though unlike some of his council colleagues he does have a declared opponent.

9. Mayor
Declared: Daryl Bonar, Carol Ann Boudreault-Handy, Dave Dowling, Don Koziak, Andrew Lineker, Stephen Mandel

I can’t see Mayor Mandel losing, but since the Mayoral race is actually contested at the moment, it ranks ahead of four Council races that aren’t.

Mandel’s strongest competitor figures to be Don Koziak, the 2007 runner-up. Koziak, who previously ran for Council three times and lost, earned 25% of the vote, despite not declaring until nomination day, and not really campaigning. With better funding, an earlier public start, and a more aggressive campaign, he should be able to do better, but I still think his ceiling for support is too low to win.

The loser from Koziak’s entry in the race is Daryl Bonar, the young member of the Armed Forces who was the first challenger to declare, and had taken a pro-ECCA stance (which figures to be overshadowed by Koziak’s presence). I had the pleasure of having lunch with Lt. Bonar a couple of months back. He is very sincere, and is doing a lot of positive work in the community, and will continue to – politics or not. That said, he was still learning the issues, and I’m still to be convinced that he’s ready to be Mayor. I hope he considers running for Council in the future though, and I suspect many who have met him feel the same way. His upside seems to be a distant third, though he would warn me (and others) not to underestimate him. He won’t lose for a lack of trying, that’s for sure.

Andrew Lineker is in the same boat, and figures to gather a handful of votes but not much more. Same for Carol Ann Boudreault-Handy, who has yet to put a website up. Dave Dowling is Dave Dowling. He’ll probably do about as well as he does every election.

10. Ward 2
Declared: Kim Krushell
11. Ward 9
Declared: Bryan Anderson
12. Ward 10
Declared: Don Iveson
13. Ward 5
Declared: Karen Leibovici

I’ve grouped all four together since the incumbent in each one has no declared opponent yet. In terms of vulnerability, I’m still expecting a pro-airport candidate to challenge Krushell, since she represents the Kingsway/ECCA area. I’ve previously written about how Anderson could be vulnerable in the right circumstances. Iveson and Leibovici should be safe; the most serious competition they may see is people jockeying for name recognition and positioning themselves for 2013, when they figure the incumbents will be running for Mayor – opening up those seats.

The Edmonton Civic Election, where the Mayor, City Council, and School Trustees will be elected to three year terms, will be held on Monday, October 18th.

Weekend Reading and Entertainment: 09/26/09

A few stories to have a look at over the weekend:

– In case you missed it, I blogged more than usual this week. I previewed the fall concert schedule in Edmonton, posted a photo essay of summer in Edmonton, reviewed Rich Vivone’s new book about the Klein years, delved into the numbers to look at next fall’s Edmonton civic election, and covered the possibility of Tory MLAs crossing the floor should Danielle Smith become Wildrose Alliance leader.

– A good Wall Street Journal piece titled ‘Making Suburbia More Livable for Retirees’

– On my reading list for tomorrow is this lengthy series from Pittsblog: The Story Behind Pittsburgh’s Revitalization.

– On Counterpunch, David Michael Green asks ‘Can America Be Salvaged?’

– My friend Jeff Porten writes a piece outlining the challenges and opportunities for President Obama titled ‘The History of the Next Three Years’.

Ken Chapman has an new blog titled Reboot Alberta. One of his first posts details a conversation with John Ibbitson of The Globe & Mail. I read Ibbitson’s book last week after reading this post, and will be writing a review in the coming days.

– Daveberta was part of a CityTV town hall on politics in Alberta this past Thursday. He writes about the experience, and within the piece you can find links to the video clips of the town hall.

– An amazing photo essay by Scott Houston: Life in Small Town America – East Liverpool, Ohio. A declining manufacturing town.

– Finally, the always entertaining Jonah Keri has advice on how to choose a favorite baseball player.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.