Ex-Mayoral Candidate Challenges Current Councillor

By Kyra Bird 

Calgary Nude Recreation, a naturist group in the city, recently caused controversy when they attempted to hold a naked waterslide swim event at the Southland Leisure Center. Although the event had already been cancelled by the City of Calgary, ex-mayoral candidate Larry Heather still wanted to confront his councillor Jeromy Farkas about his stance on the controversy, resulting in a healthy exchange between the two men.

The naked swim event, which was a private, after-hours function that Calgary Nude Recreation had booked the facility for, attracted city-wide attention. The event, which the public could pay a fee to attend, was intended to be all-ages. That prompted a woman named April Parker to start an online petition, which ended up gaining over 20,000 signatures, calling on the City of Calgary to cancel the swim over concerns of children attending.

The swim night was ultimately cancelled by the city due to safety concerns. Calgary Police confirmed that they received a threat against the leisure center in relation to the event.

Following the cancellation of the event, it seemed as though the public conversation around the event and group was over, but Heather decided to attend Farkas’ town hall event to bring up the issue once more.

Heather ran for mayor on a platform of “restoring the Lordship of Christ over the Mayor’s office.” He promised changes such as cutting city staff by one third, reducing the cycle track network on main roads and reversing what he called Calgary’s “current slide into SlumVille.”

Heather is also a ward 11 resident, meaning Farkas currently serves as his councillor. Heather, who said he didn’t vote for Farkas or any of the candidates who ran in the ward, felt it was important for his councillor to “commit to oppose” any future events held by naturist groups like Calgary Nude Recreation.

Farkas didn’t do that, instead re-iterating his view that city staff had made the wrong decision shutting down the nude swim event because of the threats that were made. He believes that the “warranted” concerns surrounding liability and children attending could have been sorted out.

“I think we could have addressed those concerns in a way that the event could proceed.”

In the process of answering the, at first, anonymous question, Farkas was interrupted by Heather shouting comments, saying the naturist group’s public invitation to the event was like “throwing jet fuel on a campfire.” The councillor continued to condemn the resident’s notion that threats against the group were to be expected given, in Heather’s words, their “extreme violations of societal norms.”

The crowd in attendance loudly applauded Farkas throughout the exchange. Ultimately, Heather “was not satisfied with Jeromy’s answer” but said he will continue to attend future town hall events, as well as carefully watch the city’s moves the next time an issue like this arises.

“The city has made it clear, and the mayor has made it clear [the naked swim] shouldn’t have been cancelled. Jeromy made it clear that it shouldn’t be cancelled and so, you know, I know it’s going to go ahead again when the fire dies down a bit but I hope to keep people vigilant.”

More town hall coverage: 

Ward 11’s Jeromy Farkas Holds First Town Hall Event

Farkas Thanks Family

Farkas Faces Ex-Opponents

Ward 11 Town Hall- Full Transcript

Ward 11 Town Hall- Full Transcript

By Kyra Bird

Here is the full transcript from Jeromy Farkas’ Ward 11 Town Hall Event, held last Thursday, January 18:

Jeromy Farkas Town Hall Event Transcript

The link is a word document that will download to your computer when selected (it is 20 pages in length).

Here are some notes, also included at the beginning of the transcript to hopefully answer any questions you may have about the content of the document:

  • The representative from the PBP Community Association who spoke at times, audience members, and residents who asked questions, have all been kept anonymous as names were not used during the event.
  • Parts omitted from the transcript include some opening statements from the PBP Community Association prior to Farkas beginning the event, as well as offhand comments that weren’t in any way related to the town hall/politics (ex. calls for questions to be submitted, jokes unrelated to the conversation) These parts were omitted as the true content of the night revolved around Farkas reading and answering questions.
  • I have numbered the audience members who did speak out during the forum just to ensure that it’s clear that more than one audience member spoke out throughout the night.
  • Everything has been written as it was spoken, to the best of my understanding Any issues with grammar, unfinished sentences, etc. are just speech errors. Errors with spelling/format/missing words (often due to audio quality- which I noted with a “?”) are mistakes on my part.

If you have any questions at all about the content of the transcript, pieces that were omitted, etc. please do not hesitate to reach out and contact me! I am also active on Twitter @KyraNoelleBird, and you can contact me there as well.

More town hall coverage: 

Ward 11’s Jeromy Farkas Holds First Town Hall Event

Farkas Thanks Family 

Farkas Faces Ex-Opponents 

Farkas Faces Ex-Opponents

By Kyra Bird

Keith Simmons and Robert Dickinson lost the recent municipal election when they ran against councillor Jeromy Farkas but both ex-candidates are staying involved and attended the councillor’s recent town hall event alongside other ward 11 residents. Dickinson, specifically, said he attended the event to keep informed about the issues facing residents and to watch the new councillor in action.

The town hall was hosted by the Palliser, Bayview, and Pump Hill Community Association on Thursday night.

Farkas ensured that his ex-opponents’ attendance at the event was not missed, as he publicly thanked both men for coming while the audience applauded.

Though he didn’t personally have any questions for the councillor, Dickinson said in an interview after the event that he attended “to see how councillor Farkas responded to different questions from the audience and hear what the residents were most concerned about.”

Overall Dickinson said some of the councillor’s answers were lacking, but he did acknowledge that future town halls offer more opportunities for Farkas to meaningfully interact with residents.

“I think sometimes [the answers] weren’t very specific to the point. I think there are some facts that maybe he doesn’t have access to yet so I do hope that as these go forward we’ll hear shorter, more detailed, more specific answers. I felt that we were still on the campaign trail a little bit.”

Dickinson said he plans to attend as many of these town halls as his schedule permits. Farkas’ town halls are currently scheduled to happen on the third Thursday of every month.

Stay tuned for my final piece about the inaugural town hall event coming on Monday, January 22. 

A full transcript of Farkas’ town hall event will also be posted on Monday, January 22. 

Edit: The original version of this piece ended with the line:

“Farkas’ town halls are currently scheduled to happen on the third Thursday of every month and ward 11 residents are currently awaiting an announcement on where the next event will be held.”

It has since been noted by multiple sources that the next town hall event has already been announced and will be held on February 15 and be hosted by the Oakridge Community Association.

More town hall coverage: 

Ward 11’s Jeromy Farkas Holds First Town Hall Event

Farkas Thanks Family

Ward 11 Town Hall- Full Transcript

Farkas Thanks Family

Farkas Thanks Family

By Kyra Bird

Thursday night’s town hall event held by Ward 11 councillor Jeromy Farkas was an opportunity for residents to come and have their voices heard by their city hall representative. But Farkas also took the opportunity to publicly acknowledge his parents who were in attendance.

Before reading an audience question, Farkas unexpectedly pointed out his parents sitting in the front row and began to get visibly emotional as he spoke about them.

“Every day I look up to you both as a real great example of the fact that anybody can work hard to be able to achieve anything,” he said.

Farkas went on to thank his parents for standing with him through the recent election campaign: “There were many, many people that told me it would be impossible for me to stand up here as a councillor for Ward 11 but you never said that.”

The family moment was applauded by the large audience in attendance before Farkas joked that he had dropped the ball on answering questions, and returned to the task at hand.

Stay tuned for continuing coverage on Ward 11’s inaugural town hall event, as I’ll be posting more stories throughout the weekend. 

A full transcript of Farkas’ town hall event will be posted on Monday (January 22). 

More town hall coverage:

Ward 11’s Jeromy Farkas Holds First Town Hall Event

Farkas Faces Ex-Opponents 

Ward 11 Town Hall- Full Transcript

Ward 11’s Jeromy Farkas Holds First Town Hall Event

Ward 11’s Jeromy Farkas Holds First Town Hall Event

By Kyra Bird

Calgarians can reach out to their city hall representatives in any number of ways, whether it be through calling their office, sending an email, or connecting with them on social media. But on Thursday night, Ward 11 councillor Jeromy Farkas took his commitment to communication one step further when he held his first town hall event where residents were invited to come and have their questions answered. Hosting this event, however, didn’t keep Farkas from facing some criticism regarding his communication with residents.

The town hall was hosted by the Palliser, Bayview, and Pump Hill Community Association and was well-attended. Seating filled up quickly, and additional audience members stood around the venue. The format was simple: each audience member was offered the opportunity to write down a question and place it in a large container where it had the chance to be randomly selected to be answered.

These town hall meetings, which Farkas plans to hold once a month at venues around the ward, are a campaign promise come to life. At candidates’ panels on October 2 and 5 and throughout the municipal election campaign Farkas committed to hold such meetings for residents to ask him “any question on any issue.” In that regard, the event delivered, as he addressed a wide range of topics.

During those same election events Farkas also said “I will stay there [at town hall meetings] and answer any questions until you are done with me.” In practice, this meant that the event ended at 8:30 pm, with many audience questions left unanswered. Farkas did continue to speak one-on-one with residents until about 9:00. When asked about the questions he left unanswered Farkas explained “We have all the questions in written form and will be following-up individually- all questions will be answered.”

Although this event revolved around nurturing dialogue, Farkas’ communication skills were questioned by one resident and evoked one of the more emotional responses of the evening from the councillor.

The audience member, who was kept anonymous along with the other residents who posed questions, wrote that they felt Farkas’ communication “has been very poor,” and they took issue with emails they felt took “a long time” to be replied to, as well as comments on social media they said “come across as very sensationalist and have been widely mocked.” The question went as far as to suggest that Farkas “consider hiring a communications person.”

Farkas acknowledged the validity of the question.

“The point is well taken,” he said. “I’m learning. I have a lot to do to improve but I never said that I was perfect. I’m going to make mistakes along the way.”

He went on to question the questioner.

“The biggest response to the criticism is: you know what? If you think my communication skills are poor to be out here in front of you, in person, taking unscripted questions, then I don’t know exactly what you’re looking for,” he said. “I hope you’ll accept the fact that I’m challenged a little bit about that.”

Monthly town hall meetings with Farkas are scheduled for the third Thursday of every month, according to Ward 11’s email newsletter. When asked, Farkas also promised that he and his team are working to ensure that future town halls will be streamed on Facebook Live, so that residents who aren’t able to attend in person will be able to view these public forums.

Edit: 

The following line has been removed from the last paragraph of this story:

“There has been no announcement yet as to where the next edition will be held.”

It has since been noted by multiple sources that the next town hall event has already been announced and will be held on February 15 and be hosted by the Oakridge Community Association.

More town hall coverage: 

Farkas Thanks Family

Farkas Faces Ex-Opponents

Ward 11 Town Hall- Full Transcript