Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi wins a third term; two of 14 councillors are South Asian

Naheed Nenshi
Photo: Twitter

CALGARY Mayor Naheed Nenshi, the first Muslim mayor of a major North American city, won a third term with 199,122 votes as compared to his nearest rival Bill Smith’s 169,367 votes.

Smith, former Progressive Conservative Party president, conceded around midnight Tuesday though counting at all the 234 ward stations was completed only by about 6 a.m.

Nenshi, referring to the bitter and divisive campaign, said: “I can’t promise you I’ll be a different person and I’m not sure you want that, but I can promise you I’ll do my very best, put my pants on every day and go to work every single day for every one of you.”

He said: “Being your mayor is the best job in the world. This city is the best city in the world. And our best days are still ahead,” CBC reported.

Nenshi also said: “I will still be scrappy. I will still fight for people every day, but I will make sure that people will see that I’m always listening, that I’m always willing to change my mind and that I’m always willing to hear great arguments,” the Toronto Star reported.

The Calgary Flames’ owners seemed to try their level best to turn Calgarians against Nenshi because of differences about a new hockey arena, but ended up with egg on their face.


George Chahal
Photo: Chahal website

GEORGE CHAHAL was one of two South Asians out of the 14 councillors elected in Calgary. The other was Jyoti Gondek.

Chahal, the youngest of three children was born to Ram and Surinder who emigrated to Canada in the early 1970’s from the United Kingdom with their two children Raj and Charan. George was born in Calgary (1975), according to Chahal’s website.

Chahal graduated from University of Calgary with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Economics.

Throughout the years, Chahl has continued his passion for sport at many levels of competition locally, provincially, nationally and internationally. He  has a passion for teaching and coaching children as he has been a volunteer soccer coach for several girls U12, U10, and U8 soccer teams over the years.  He  is also currently the director and one of the founding members of the Punjabi Athletic Group. More recently in 2016, Chahal was a member of the Provincial Gold medalist Calgary Phantoms at the Provincial Ball Hockey Championships, and Masters National Gold medalists with Team Alberta.  He is an avid ice hockey enthusiast playing weekly at Winsport with the Olympia Liquor Kings.

Upon completing his education, Chahal entered the workforce full time as a Financial Advisor with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce at the Falconridge Branch.  In 2002, he followed his father’s footsteps, entering the Real Estate and Development Industry. He is the Vice President, Finance and Planning, at Oxford Group. He is a member of a number of professional associations including the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB), Urban Land Institute (ULI), and Certified Commercial Investment Management Institute (CCIM).

While working full time George embarked on attaining further education and enrolled in the faculty of Environmental Design Planning (University of Calgary) program in 2003.  He was awarded a grant from the City of Calgary to conduct research on ethnic diversity and affordable housing.  This research project was later published online at the City of Calgary.  He expanded on the research and in the fall of 2006 presented his thesis on Planning for Ethnic Diversity. In November 2006, Chahal graduated with a Masters Degree in Environmental Design (Planning).

In 2003, George married Aman and has three children Amita (13), Noor (9), and Liv (4).

Currently, George has been focused on his entrepreneurial endeavors, running a small business and his continued passion for research and learning.  He also has served on many committees over the last decade.

Incidentally, he considers the number “3” to be an unlucky one because in 2007, at the age of 33, he lost the municipal election in Ward 3 by 33 votes!


Jyoti Gondek
Photo: Facebook

JYOTI GONDEK is an adjunct professor at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business, and was previously the Director of the Westman Centre for Real Estate Studies. She also worked with Credit Union Central Alberta and Greyhound Canada before launching her own consulting business (Tick Consulting) in 2002. Gondek has an MA in Organizational Sociology and a PhD in Urban Sociology, according to her website.

Gondek is currently a director on the boards of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Alberta and Design Talks (d.talks), and also serves as an advisor on the National Executive Forum on Public Property (NEFPP). Previously, she served as a citizen representative for the City of Calgary’s Planning Commission for four years, and also sat on the Calgary Economic Development Real Estate Committee.

Gondek has been recognized for her contributions to community through the 2016 Canadian Sociological Association Angus Reid Applied Sociology Award, as well as the 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and 2010 Alberta Graduate Citizenship Award.

Jyoti lives with her daughter, husband, and mum in Panorama Hills.