13 years after ballot stuffing scandal, former city council member Margot Aftergood will run again

Margot Aftergood — the former alderman who quit after the 2004 civic election amid allegations that her campaign team had stuffed ballot boxes — wants back on Calgary city council. 

Aftergood was elected by 138 votes in Ward 10 in the 2004 election, but resigned a month later.

She was ultimately cleared of any involvement in the scandal.

Now she's announced that she will run again in this fall's municipal election, in Ward 7, against Coun. Druh Farrell.

"I am a longtime resident of Ward 7 and I do love my neighbourhood like most people love theirs," Aftergood told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"But what's going on in our neighbourhoods we don't seem to have any more control over, and what's going on in our houses are high taxes.

"And you know, everything right now is about urban development but that's taking away our green space, so I feel that I'd like to get back into the fray and fight for the taxpayers of Ward 7."

Scandal over mail-in ballots

The 2004 vote marked the first time Calgary had allowed the use of mail-in ballots. 

The city received 1,266 online requests for mail-in ballots in Ward 10 — from the same two computers. The applications all asked that ballots be mailed to the same postal box in a northeast Calgary strip mall. 

Of 1,266 mail-in ballots, 863 were completed and handed to the Calgary Election Office — but they were ultimately deemed suspicious and were disallowed. 

Aftergood acknowledged the postal box had been rented by her husband, David Aftergood, but said she and her husband had done nothing wrong.

However, several people from her campaign team — including her husband and his brother — were initially charged, accused of violating the Local Authorities Election Act. 

In 2007, David Aftergood was found guilty of violating the elections act and was sentenced to 14 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. However, he never served out the sentence because, upon appeal, he was granted a new trial. The charge against him was stayed in January 2010.

His brother, Ron Aftergood, and campaign volunteer Son Nguyen pleaded guilty to violating the Local Authorities Election Act and were fined $4,000 and $1,500, respectively. Charges were dropped against others who were initially accused.

'Everything will go extremely by the book' 

Margot Aftergood, who describes herself as a fiscal conservative, has been knocking on doors in Ward 7 for about a year. 

The 2004 scandal is not something people remember, she said.

"We went through all kinds of reviews and judicial proceedings, and in the end it was concluded that I was not involved and my husband was cleared," she said.

Aftergood said it can be a challenge to manage a campaign team.

"When people want to volunteer on your campaign you don't want to say no," she said.

"Getting help like this is very important to get a campaign on its feet, and as a candidate it's impossible to do everything, to watch everything, but we're going to be extremely, extremely careful this time, and everything will go extremely by the book."

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With files from the Calgary Eyeopener