Candidate for Mayor
A born-and-raised Calgarian from the southeast community of Dover, Jeromy’s family story is one of hard work and sacrifice. Jeromy’s father arrived in Canada in 1957 as a refugee from communist Hungary, and his mother traces her roots to settlers who emigrated from Eastern Europe to homestead and build a better life.
Jeromy learned from a young age that anything is possible if you are willing to roll up your sleeves and work for it. His early years included delivering flyers at the age of 8 years old, bussing tables, labouring in an Ogden shingle factory and working his way through school.
After earning a Political Science degree from the University of Calgary, Jeromy launched his entrepreneurial spirit through the start-up of a successful small business in data analysis and technology.
As jobs evaporated, he saw the burden on taxpayers grow heavier and how everyday Calgarians were ignored by an out-of-touch City Hall establishment. Jeromy grew frustrated seeing his peers move away to seek opportunity elsewhere. Rather than stand by and watch, Jeromy committed to do something about it.
In 2017, Jeromy was elected as the Councillor for Ward 11 on a promise to bring financial responsibility, transparency and integrity back to City Hall. Jeromy wasted no time in leading by example when he declined his generous council pension and transition allowance.
From day one, Jeromy kept true to his word and has been working hard on behalf of Calgary families, seniors, young people and businesses.
Jeromy’s record demonstrates his commitment to improving Calgarian’s everyday lives by championing wiser spending, lower taxes, better core services and a safer community. Jeromy will bring a fresh, new kind of leadership that will rally Calgarians together behind bold ideas that will turn things around and bring positive change to our city.
Jeromy understands firsthand that Calgarians are trailblazers at heart and that our city was built on the backs of hard-working, innovative and entrepreneurial people.
As mayor, he will bring fresh ideas and new energy to draw Calgarians together to solve our city’s urgent challenges and kickstart our economic engine.
An avid outdoor enthusiast, cyclist and runner, Jeromy competes regularly in the Calgary Ironman 70.3, and gives back as a career mentor to post-secondary students.
Question 1: What work experience do you have that’s relevant to the role of Mayor and how do you feel the skills and perspective you have gained will help you in your role as Mayor?
Having spent the last 4 years as a City Councillor, I have had the chance to become very familiar with the policies and bureaucracy of City Hall. This means that I will be able to hit the ground running from day one to start implementing the changes that I am proposing in my platform.
Question 2: What do you think are the biggest issues affecting Calgary are, and how would you approach these issues as Mayor?
If elected mayor, I will focus on three priorities: ● A strong and growing economy based on financial responsibility at City Hall. ● Open and transparent government that better includes Calgarians in the decision-making process. ● Safe and vibrant communities through support for our Police and other essential services. Calgary has what it takes to come back stronger than ever. It’s time for City Hall to work for the people again.
Question 3: What do you think is the role of a municipal government? Do you think the City does too many things, not enough, or just the right amount?
The city is in charge of roads, transit and essential services. I am focused on an efficient City Hall within areas of its own jurisdiction. We need to get back to basics and see an improvement on the delivery of our core services. That starts with a high-performance government that will deliver their core services in an efficient and cost-effective way.
Question 4: Do you think property taxes are too high, too low, or just about right?
Calgarians are over taxed. From 2010 to 2019, the city collected $1.3 billion in surplus revenue from Calgary taxpayers, which amounts to about $2,765 per property. Only the much larger city of Toronto collected a larger surplus. Rather than showcasing good financial management, this large surplus shows Calgary taxpayers are paying more than their fair share for the services they get.t
Question 5: Over the next four years, should the City spend less in absolute terms, increase spending but by less than the rate of inflation and population growth, increase by the rate of inflation and population growth, or increase faster than the rate of inflation and population growth?
The focus of all City departments should be on core mandates and efficient delivery of services. Calgarians deserve a highly effective municipal government that offers its citizens good value for money. I have repeatedly called for spending restraint in the city budget, voted against unnecessary expenditures, and advocated for modest reductions in non-essential services. This does not prevent the city budget from growing to meet demands because revenue can still grow if the city is growing.
Question 6: During the introduction of City Charters a few years ago there was a lot of debate about new taxation powers for the big cities. Would you support the City being given any additional taxation powers by the Province? If so, what taxation powers should the City have?
No, I would not support new taxation powers. The City of Calgary does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem.
Question 7: The City often claims that they’ve found savings in various budgets, but instead of actually cutting spending, they just put the savings into a reserve account and then spend that money on other things. If there’s money left over at the end of a financial year, do you think that money should be saved up by the City to spend in future years? Or should it be returned automatically to taxpayers the following year through some kind of rebate?
Surplus tax revenue goes into the city’s Fiscal Sustainability Reserve, which holds a balance of $638 million at last count. This reserve is supposed to be a rainy-day fund for operational emergencies, but it has never once been used for this purpose since its creation in 2005. Instead, it has funded a laundry list of Council pet projects like the failed Olympic bid. I am proposing a four-year tax freeze using these reserves.
Question 8: Everyone says they support affordable housing, but what does that term mean for you? Do you think the City should be subsidizing housing for lower-income residents? Or focused on keeping the cost of all housing from getting out of control? Or perhaps some combination of the two? If so, how?
As property owners and landlords, the City must ensure proper maintenance of all assets, for the safety and security of all staff and tenants. There is only one taxpayer at the end of the day, and the City needs to be cautious there isn’t duplication of efforts, and that the work with the two other levels of government on affordable housing is efficient.
Question 9: The Calgary Metropolitan Region Board is currently debating their Growth Plan for the Calgary region. What do you think about the plan? Do you think we should be limiting development in certain parts of the region? If so, are you worried about how that will affect housing affordability?
I am not supportive of the CMRB's proposed Growth Plan as it stands. At present, Calgary and our neighbouring municipalities do not have a coordinated approach to economic development that is in the best interests of the Calgary Region and Alberta. Infighting between municipalities in our region limits possibilities. Instead, I think that we should look for more opportunities to work with our neighbours to uplift the regional economy and cast as wide a net to the world as possible. This can look like embracing best practices to keep land prices low, tax rates low and minimize approval times throughout the region. A regional economic development body could be created through the existing Calgary Metropolitan Region Board. Calgary and the other nine member municipalities (Rocky View County, Airdrie, Cochrane, Chestermere, Strathmore, Wheatland County, Okotoks, High River and Foothills County) already collaborate through the Metropolitan Region Board on planning and growth matters, and they already consider economic wellbeing and regional competitiveness a priority. Incorporating an economic development arm into this organization is a natural step forward to helping them fulfill their mandate and would be another tool to help attract investment to the region.
Question 10: There’s been a lot of debate about the City’s new “Guidebook for Great Communities”. What do you think about the Guidebook? What do you think should be the split between greenfield and established community growth for new housing? Should the City have a specific target? Should this be determined by market demand?
Although the Guidebook for Great Communities (renamed the Guide for Local Area Planning) was quietly passed as non-statutory (less binding) I maintain that this should have been paused until after the election. There was an absence of meaningful public consultation and despite over 60 amendments, there is far too much ambiguity in the language and there remains a lack of considerations for single-family districts. I still feel that the document will pave the way for government to have too much control over how our city builds and grows for decades to come. My stance in opposition to the Guidebook at this time is based on thousands of people reaching out to me. Change is needed at City Hall, as this is a fine example of government not listening to its own people. When it comes to development, there needs to be a balance between supporting the free market and ensuring our city grows sustainably. When approving new communities, we have to look at the market demand and do our due diligence to make sure developers are contributing their fair share to infrastructure, rather than adding more pressures that could ultimately be put onto the taxpayer. This takes measured accountability and responsibility on the part of City Council as well as the development community.
Question 11: When the City voted to approve four projects - the Event Centre, the BMO Centre expansion, the Arts Commons transformation, and the Foothills Fieldhouse - they did so against the advice of the City’s own CFO, who said the City could only afford one of them. Do you think that was the right move? Why? If, as the City continues through the process with each of these projects, it becomes obvious that the City’s CFO was correct, and Calgarians can only afford one of these projects, which would you choose?
As all of these projects have already been approved, and a few of them are already underway, at this point I am committed to ensuring that Calgarians receive the facilities they were promised for the price they were promised, and that moving forward, City Hall focuses on needs over wants. We need to take care of what we have, focus on core services and deliver better value for money to Calgarians.
Question 12: Do you support the construction of the Green Line LRT as currently envisioned by the City, would you prefer changes be made to the plan (and if so, what changes), or would you prefer to cancel the project entirely? If, as Mayor, you find out that - despite all the previous assurances - there has in fact been another cost overrun on the Green Line, what would you do?
The Green Line has now been approved by Justin Trudeau and Jason Kenney, meaning that no adjustment to the plan is allowed and it will proceed as proposed by City Council. I have serious concerns about this and consider it to be a broken promise to Calgarians -- a significant reduction in length at an increased cost. I am the only candidate whom Calgarians can trust to hold the project team accountable, and ensure that the line is delivered on time and on budget.
Question 13: What do you think is the best approach to attract businesses to Calgary? Direct incentives to specific businesses, paid for by slightly higher taxes, or lower tax rates for all businesses?
For Calgary to be successful, City Hall needs to get out of the way of businesses and other organizations by reducing red tape, keeping the tax burden under control, and helping facilitate our city's entrepreneurial spirit. City Hall does not create jobs, Calgarians do.
Question 14: Should the City be in the business of operating golf courses, or should they privatize or sell them off? How about garbage collection or other services?
I supported city staff bringing forward their cost savings ideas to make golf course operations self sufficient. This is why I voted against privatizing the golf courses. Through spending reforms and wise choices, City Hall can get its budget under control and turn our city around. We need to find efficiencies and look to partnering with other organizations when and where it makes sense. For example, the YMCA running the City’s rec centres has shown cost savings and quality improvements. I have the utmost respect for our city workers and see tremendous value in what they do each and every day. City Hall is top heavy, with managers managing managers. I want to lower the administration costs and not target the boots on the ground for cost savings.
Question 15: Should we defund the police? If yes, what exactly does defunding the police mean to you? If not, what should the City do to address both historical and ongoing injustices?
Defunding our Calgary Police Service is a reckless, ideological proposal that will lessen the safety of all Calgarians. Properly funding our police and re-establishing a downtown police station will help lead to safer communities required for our city to grow and prosper. A properly resourced police service benefits every Calgarian who wants to walk our streets with peace of mind. It gives our police the resources for adequate training and potential alternative-response models that may better serve marginalized Calgarians and people of colour who may not have been properly serviced in the past.
Question 16: Do you support the City’s mandatory vaccination policy for City employees?
I made a motion at City Council asking the City Manager to reverse the mandatory vaccination policy and talk with city staff first.
Question 17: Council recently dropped residential speed limits to 40km/h, do you agree with that decision, and what do you think about the proposal by some to go further and drop it to 30km/h in the future?
I continue to have concerns that a one-size-fits-all approach of speed limit reductions will not achieve the safety outcome we are looking for. If the majority of Calgarians speak out and demand a change back, I would evaluate the options and costs associated with that scenario. I value the voice/opinion of Calgarians, City Council works for citizens and not the other way around.
Question 18: For years there has been an ongoing debate about the City’s public art spending. Some say that the problem is the selection process for what art is commissioned, while others are opposed to any use of public funds for art. What do you think?
I believe that public art should tell Calgary’s story. I do not support spending millions on projects commissioned from outside organizations, public art should be created by our local and indigenous artists.
Question 19: Serving as Mayor you are elected by and responsible to all Calgarians, but some policies and government actions inherently benefit one part of the City at the expense of another. How would you deal with a situation where you feel that the best interests of some Calgarians conflict with the best interests of Calgarians in other parts of the City?
Council’s decisions need to be in the best interests of the most people possible. I highly value the input of Calgarians in the decision making process, and in a situation where there is conflict, having stakeholders from both sides participate in finding a possible solution or compromise is essential.
Question 20: While the concept of a secret ballot is essential, many of our supporters have told us that they’d like to know the political alignment of their candidates. So, if - and only if - you feel comfortable saying so, who are you voting for in your local ward race and why, and if you are affiliated with any provincial or federal political parties, which ones and why?
I am staying out of the ward races. Mayor Nenshi’s approach to picking favourites on City Council has been very damaging to building a united team, and I need to hit the ground running with the team that Calgarians decide. In the most recent federal election, I voted for the Conservative Party of Canada. As Ward 11 Councillor, I have frequent interactions with my local MPs -- Greg Mclean, Bob Benzen, and Stephanie Kusie – and have found them to be very responsive on constituents issues. I felt they were most aligned with my views on the economy, budget, and employment.