In 1956, Jeromy Farkas’ family escaped the Hungarian Communist regime to build a better life in Calgary. Born and raised in Calgary, Farkas comes from the southeast community of Dover. Farkas holds a political science degree from the University of Calgary and before entering politics he ran a small business focused on data analytics and technology. In 2017, Farkas was elected Councilor for Ward 11. During his tenure on council, Farkas was a strong conservative presence, although he occasionally angered his fellow councilors, who accused him of demagoguery without proposing solutions.
Farkas’ platform includes three campaign pledges. First, he wants to control the city’s taxes and spending through a four-year property tax freeze. Another key priority for Farkas is to defend public safety and reject the ideology of police funding. This includes ensuring that emergency services are adequately funded and reopening a downtown police station. Finally, Farkas promises to replace city council 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 mayoral candidates five questions about themselves and their campaigns. Here’s what Farkas told us:
5 questions to JÃ©rÃ´me Farkas
Samreen Ahmed: What is the most important problem for you as a candidate for mayor and how are you going to solve it?
JÃ©rÃ´me Farkas: I focus on the economy and responsible spending. My family came as immigrants from another country, and I am so proud that Calgary is an amazing place to live and find the best possible opportunity. So when I think about why I chose to run for city council, it was to make sure that all Calgarians who have come after me have as many opportunities, if not more. So I’m focusing again on the economy, responsible spending, keeping our budget under control, and making things easier for struggling families, seniors, students, and small business owners.
Why should young people vote for you?
Well I think as a youngster myself I think I have a good mix of energy and experience to do well in the role. I understand the difficulties and challenges that young people face today. And I want to make sure Calgary remains an exciting place to live and where everyone can succeed, no matter what field or profession they have chosen. 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 interested in pushing for policies and changes that make it easier for young Calgarians to choose Canada as the place to live their lives and seize opportunities.
Let’s say you have some downtime from your campaign. Which local bar, restaurant or cafÃ© do you go to and why?
Oh, I really like Ten Foot Henry at Beltline. It is difficult to choose between restaurants, but for me, representing Ward 11 currently as a city councilor, I have some of the best hangouts in the whole city and it has been a great privilege and an opportunity to really get to know and see all kinds of other places all over town. But if you think of somewhere near town hall, I really enjoy Ten Foot Henry and their roasted tomatoes.
What TV show or movie helped you get through the pandemic?
Oh, it’s not a TV show or a movie, but I really enjoyed Doris Goodwin’s book Team of Rivals. He talks about President Lincoln’s leadership, how he managed to bring the American people together at a time when they are most divided. And he offered a lot of advice not just to me, but to anyone looking to be a leader and bring a team together.
Calgary is currently in a difficult economic situation and many young people are looking for opportunities elsewhere. What would you do to help the city thrive as we finally emerge from the pandemic?
Well, one thing I made a commitment to today is to pursue a four-year property tax freeze. I firmly believe that we need to get our spending under control and that a four-year property tax freeze would be able to provide a much needed lifeline for struggling students, small business owners, seniors and young families. And I think that’s really crucial in order to be able to give some stability and some certainty with the downturn in the economy, as well as to fight the COVID restrictions. A lot of people are suffering there right now. And I think that the town hall must do everything to be able to allow these people to get back on their feet and put our city back on top of its place.
Thanks for speaking with me.
Oh, thanks for the opportunity, I really appreciate it. Maybe if I could just finish I would say it’s definitely time for a change. And when my family arrived as refugees, they saw in our city much more than a place to find a job. Calgary is something you cannot find anywhere else. It is the promise of a new beginning. And a lot of doors were closed to my parents. But as Calgarians, they worked so hard to have those same doors open to me. While we didn’t have a lot of money, we had a lot of opportunities. And over the past decade Calgarians have really struggled with the lack of opportunity. We have seen the economy struggling, the tax burden increasing, and city hall establishments become more and more disconnected. So, I am running for mayor to bring about real change. And I offer a detailed ten-point plan for change that will help Calgarians get our city back on track. And if I am elected mayor, I will focus on three priorities.
First, a strong and growing economy based on financial responsibility at town hall. Second, an open and transparent government that better includes Calgarians in the decision-making process. And third, safe and vibrant communities with support from police and other essential services. And I know Calgarians have what it takes to come back stronger than ever. And it is time for the town hall to work for the people again. So I’m Jeremy Farkas, and that’s me. And I ask for your support on October 18th.