Edmonton election shenanigans – week one

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Election season has a tendency to bring forth all dimensions of crazy. For example, many Edmontonians will remember Tom “Buffalo Terminator” Tomilson, who made many unsuccessful bids for various political positions at the municipal level. You’ll remember he because he was fucking nuts.

I don’t remember some of the specifics of his campaign, except that, according to his Wikipedia profile, he claims to have worked over 85 different jobs. And he can speak Esperanto. Like it matters.

Edmonton’s 2010 election is proving to be just as fruitful in its weirdness, though not in such an overt way as the Buffalo Terminator’s standard election shenanigans. Still, we’re just over one week in and there are some candidates who are already starting to create buzz. In a bad way.

When you have to issue a press release stating that you would like the media to stop asking about a certain thing, you know the rest of the election is going to be a tough slog. Enter: Scott Robb, council candidate for Ward 4 (running against incumbent Ed Gibbons).

Aside from his mostly-standard and boring platform points — where he twice he mentions the risk of death Edmontonians face due to the roll out of city-wide LRT and the closure of the City Centre Airport — Scott Robb has one remarkable trait that no other candidates in this election can boast. He’s high-priest in the Church of Satan.

So now you’ve either reacted by raising your eyebrows slightly with bemusement, or covering your mouth with shock. The media’s caught on to this unusual characteristic as well, with this story across many Postmedia newspapers. Robb’s received enough comments about the whole Church of Satan thing that he released the following statement:

“As reported in a September 23, 2010 article in the Edmonton Journal (and subsequently picked up by the wire services), I indicated that I had a non-conventional religious belief system.

“I understood that making these beliefs public would be extremely controversial. However, this was done in the hopes of stimulating discussions of this election as a whole.

“Specifically, my interests are for the constituents of Ward 4 this was an attempt to combat voter apathy in municipal elections.

“I am a firm believer in democracy and wish to engage more voters than the 23.47% of eligible voters who voted in this ward (formally known as ward 3), in the 2007 election.

“I strongly believe that one’s religious beliefs should never be used as an indicator as to their ability to do their job. As I have stated numerous times, I am a firm believer in the separation of church and state.

“I applaud the media for their background research, but I would like to return to my campaign and will no longer field any interviews or questions related to any religious beliefs.”

Cue the “Really” skit from Saturday Night Live, right?

Robb clearly understood that his religious beliefs would be “of interest” for the electorate — and I use quotes because of the absurd understatement — but as I stated on Twitter over the weekend, I think he’s totally out of touch with just how much this would be an issue with his potential constituents.

In contemporary culture, Satan is still something most people association with evil. He’s the de facto devil, even if that characterization doesn’t jive with Robb’s beliefs. And it’s certainly going to be on the minds of voters in his ward. I wish him all the best, but he’s got an uphill battle to fight. And he’s out of his fucking mind if he thought it wouldn’t be a big deal.

For outstanding coverage of Edmonton’s 2010 Municipal Election, check out EdmontonPolitics.com, Daveberta.ca, Alex Abboud’s blog, and Edmonton Commons.

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