In 1956, Jeromy Farkas’ family escaped the communist regime in Hungary to build a better life in Calgary. A born and raised Calgarian, Farkas comes from the southeast community of Dover. Farkas has a political science degree from the University of Calgary and before entering politics he ran a small business focused on data analysis and technology. In 2017, Farkas was elected as the Councillor for Ward 11. In his time on council, Farkas was a strong conservative presence, though sometimes angered his council colleagues, who accused him of grandstanding without offering solutions.
Farkas’ platform includes three campaign promises. Firstly, he wants to control taxes and city spending through a four-year property tax freeze. Another key priority for Farkas is to defend public safety and reject the defund-the-police ideology. This includes ensuring emergency services are adequately funded and reopening a downtown police station. Finally, Farkas promises to replace city council’s pensions with a smaller registered retirement savings plan. Farkas turned down his own pension when he was first elected in 2017.
The Calgary Journal asked our city’s mayoral candidates five questions about themselves and their campaigns. Here’s what Farkas told us:
5 Questions with Jeromy Farkas
Samreen Ahmed: What issue is most important to you as a mayoral candidate and how will you solve it?
Jeromy Farkas: My focus is on the economy and responsible spending. My family came as immigrants from another country, and I’m so proud that Calgary has been an incredible place to be able to call home and to find the best possible opportunity. So when I think about why I chose to run for city council in the first place, it was grounded in ensuring that every Calgarian who came after me enjoyed just as much opportunity, if not more. So my focus again is on the economy, responsible spending, getting our budget under control, and to really make things easier for struggling families, seniors, students and small business owners.
Why should young people vote for you?
Well, I think as a young person myself, I think I have a good mix of energy and experience to do well in the role. I understand the hardships and the challenges that young people these days face. And I want to make sure that Calgary remains an exciting place to live and one where anybody can succeed regardless of their chosen field or profession. I care a lot about our future Calgarians, and we have a component of our campaign focused specifically on youth outreach and it’s called Youth Quake. So I’m very much interested in pushing for policies and changes that make it easier for younger Calgarians to want to choose Canada as the place to be able to live their life and to pursue opportunity.
Let’s say you have some downtime from your campaign. Which local bar, restaurant or coffee shop are you going to and why?
Oh, I really enjoy Ten Foot Henry in Beltline. It’s hard to pick between restaurants, but for me, representing Ward 11 currently as a city councillor, I have some of the best hangouts in all of the city and it’s been a great privilege and opportunity to really get to know and to see all sorts of other places throughout the city. But if you’re thinking somewhere close to City Hall, I do really enjoy Ten Foot Henry and their roasted tomatoes.
What’s one TV show or movie that helped get you through the pandemic?
Oh, it’s not a TV show or a movie, but I really enjoyed Doris Goodwin’s book called Team of Rivals. It talks about President Lincoln’s leadership, how he was able to bring together the American people at a time when they’re most divided. And it’s offered a lot of advice for not just me, but anybody who is seeking to be a leader and to bring together a team.
Calgary is in a difficult economic spot right now, and many young people are looking elsewhere for opportunities. What would you do to help the city prosper as we eventually emerge from the pandemic?
Well, one thing I’ve committed to today is to pursue a four year property tax freeze. I believe very strongly that we need to get our spending under control and a four year property tax freeze would be able to throw a needed lifeline to those struggling students, small business owners, seniors, younger families. And I think that that’s really crucial to be able to give some stability and to some certainty with the downturn in the economy, as well as struggling with the COVID restrictions. A lot of people are hurting out there right now. And I think that City Hall has to do everything that it can to be able to allow those people to get back on their feet and to put our city back on top where we belong.
Thank you for speaking with me.
Oh, thank you for the opportunity, I really appreciate it. Maybe if I could just close, I’d say it’s definitely time for change. And when my family arrived as refugees, they saw our city as much more than a place to be able to find a job. Calgary is something that you can’t find just anywhere else. It’s the promise of a fresh start. And many doors were closed to my parents. But as Calgarians, they worked so hard so that those same doors would be made open to me. While we didn’t have a lot of money, we did have a lot of opportunity. And over the past decade, Calgarians have really struggled with the lack of opportunity. We’ve seen the economy struggle, the tax burden increase, and the City Hall establishments become increasingly out of touch. So, I’m running for mayor to bring about real change. And I’m bringing forward a detailed ten point blueprint for change that will help Calgarians get our city back on track where we belong. And if I’m elected mayor, I’m going to focus on three priorities.
Firstly, a strong and growing economy based on financial responsibility at City Hall. Next, an open and transparent government that better includes Calgarians in the decision making process. And thirdly, safe and vibrant communities through support for police and other essential services. And I know that Calgarians have what it takes to come back stronger than ever. And it’s time for City Hall to work for the people again. So I’m Jeremy Farkas, and that’s me. And I’m asking for your support on October 18th.