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Campaign Launch Speech - June 22


Scott McKeen - Man with a Plan

In case you missed it, I'm pleased to share with you my speech from our Campaign Launch on June 22.

We hope to hear your issues and vision for Ward 6 as the campaign moves forward!

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First, I want to thank Stephen Mandel for that kind introduction.

Stephen is here today as a citizen and friend of the campaign. Not as “The Mayor!”

You know, I’m glad he’s not the mayor today ... Because on the way over here I hit SUCH a pothole.

And I took the mayor’s name in vain.

Secondly, I want to thank you all so much for coming today. I see many friends here.

My dear mom is here. My daughters Jennifer and Molly are with me. Unfortunately, my son Matt couldn’t make it. He and his band were flooded out at the Sled Island Festival in Calgary.

The third thing I want to do today is make it official. That I am enthusiastically, yet humbly and anxiously, entering the race for council in Ward 6, the heart and soul of Edmonton.

Yes, I said I was making this announcement anxiously. Of course I’m anxious. To put your name forward for city council is to jump into a whirlwind of public scrutiny and responsibility.

Imagine being elected to represent 60,000-plus people. Now imagine representing 60,000-plus people, knowing that each one of them holds unique aspirations, hopes and ... grievances.

But that isn’t the only reason I’m anxious. As many of you know, I ran for council in 2010. It was in a different ward, under different circumstances.

I learned a lot from the campaign. I’d spent almost 30 years as a reporter and columnist. The journalism reflex is to stay detached, observe and report.

Journalists report on the doings and doers in a community. But they do not DO.

So running for council in 2010 was, for me, to be a stranger in a strange land of you Can-Do People.

Losing that election ... well, losing sucked. Looking out at the long faces of campaign volunteers — some of those faces streaked with tears — was something I will never forget.

I took a long time — deciding to run this time. I kept being asked. I kept saying no. It wasn’t until I acknowledged my fear that I could say yes.

I admitted to myself that I was afraid of letting down campaign volunteers again. Of asking them to give up countless hours ... And losing again.

But I remembered what I told those folks on a downcast election night in October of 2010. I told them of how they’d filled me with such a sense of privilege and inspiration. How they had done something remarkable.

They’d left the comfort of their homes on numerous days and evenings that fall to engage with fellow citizens. They got involved.

Together, we learned things. Our perspective changed. Our consciousness got raised. We made new friends and created lifelong memories. Yes, we “lost.” But we also gained ... so much.

The funny thing, that the election campaign of 2010 also left me with a hankering for more of this doing thing.

After that election I dipped my toe in. Then I dove in. I started a business and worked hard for some amazing clients.

But I also volunteered on a number of causes and boards: The Downtown Edmonton Community League. The Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers. The Downtown Vibrancy Task Force. The Lieutenant Governor’s Circle on Mental Health and Addiction.

I learned that I love being involved in things. I especially love being involved with enthusiastic, creative people.

It is truly inspiring to be around members of Edmonton’s new generation of community leaders, with their ideas and energy aimed at a stronger, better, more vibrant Edmonton.

Our campaign team is chockablock with such people. And our campaign motto is: Core Values.

The motto speaks to the critical importance of investing, maintaining and improving the core communities that make up Ward 6.

Our motto, Core Values, also speaks to the core services provided by the civic government — services that must be funded appropriately to create a city that works — that attracts investment and talent — that offers to our kids and grandkids the prosperity we enjoyed.

Core values also speak to the human element — the core human values — we’d like our campaign to reflect: Neighbourliness, kindness, honesty, curiosity.

We will begin this campaign with our ears open. Yes, we have ideas. But we have no monopoly on ideas. We are curious to hear from our neighbours in Ward 6 before formalizing our platform.

What I can say today is that this campaign places a high value on integrity, so far as the sacred responsibility given city council to spend citizens’ tax dollars wisely. We will not make grand promises during the campaign and skip the accounting.

You know, if I could fulfill one dream of mine, it would be to reduce the amount of public cynicism about politics. As a former journalist, I’d like to thank former journalists Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin in that regard. :)

Here’s what I know to be true. City politics is a unique animal. No political parties. No party leaders or party whips. No locked caucus doors. What you’re left with is a kind of fishbowl democracy.

I observed, interviewed and chatted with mayors and city councillors for more than 25 years now. I’ve seen councillors wide-eyed with stress over big decision. I’ve seen them tongue tied and at a loss. I’ve seen them in tears.

Public service is not easy for committed council members.

I can’t name all the councillors who inspired me to run for office, with their passion, intelligence, commitment and integrity. Some are here today.

But I will talk about Jane Batty, the departing councillor for Ward 6. I love Jane Batty. She is simply one of the most gracious people I’ve ever met.

Jane was council’s finest diplomat. She elevated the discourse in and around council with her wisdom and civility. Jane, as many of you know, is refined and genteel. What you might not know is that — man, can she cut you down to size with a deftly aimed quip.

When Jane does it, though, it’s with such a sweet smile on her face that your ego doesn’t feel a thing. Until it does.

Oh, I’ve got the scars. And I earned them. Thank you Jane for keeping me in line — and for all your service to Edmonton.

Before I conclude, I do want to again thank our mayor. I wish he could have been here today. :)

I’d have told him how he has been the finest Edmonton mayor of my lifetime.

In nine years, he managed to solve issues that haunted this city for more than 50 years. It took tremendous resolve and a force of will the likes of which we’ve never seen on council before.

Make no mistake. This mayor is demanding. Challenging. Obstinate. He has a way with, uh, slang.

But then a little kid or a puppy crosses his line of sight and his face lights up and he starts making goo-goo noises.

The mayor is tough — and a creampuff. Bottom line? He is a mensch. He deserves nothing but our thanks.

One last thing. When I’d finally made my decision to run, I sought out the advice of a close friend.

Shave off that damn mustache, he said, launching into a diatribe about mustachioed villains from history: the likes of Stalin and Jesse Ventura.

I Googled “famous moustaches.” And I found Ghandi, Einstein and Tom Selleck.

At any rate, I later ran the moustache controversy by the campaign team. Should I shave it? I asked.

NOOOO! they said.

So instead of losing the moustache, we’re adopting and harnessing the power of the moustache. We feel mo’stronger with it. We are mo’ better with it. We will ride it wildly through now to Mo’October and the, ah, Mo’lection.

We hope you will join us on the journey. No moustache required. We are going to get busy, get involved, make friends and create some memories.

This time, we are going to win.

Thank you all for coming out today. See you on the campaign trail!

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