This Cannot Stand

March 7, 2014

WE INTERRUPT THIS REGULARLY SCHEDULED WARDS 2 WATCH DISPATCH TO BRING YOU AN URGENT BULLETIN:

PEOPLE OF WARD 11 YORK SOUTH-WESTON! newsflashWON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE, DROP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND REGISTER TO RUN AGAINST YOUR LONGTIME INCUMBENT, COUNCILLOR FRANCES NUNZIATA? IF NOT FOR YOURSELF OR FOR THE CITY. DO IT FOR YOUR CHILDREN. YOUR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

I know it’s early in the race, still months to go before election day on October 27th but when our friend Jude MacDonald pointed out that as of March 6th, Councillor Nunziata was running unopposed, I just couldn’t help thinking, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?! WHY ISN’T EVERYONE BEATING DOWN THE DOOR TO CHALLENGE HER!? SHE IS THE WORST!

(OK, I’ll stop shout-writing now. Deep breath. Deep breath.)

The thought of running against a firmly entrenched incumbent at any political level but especially municipally must be a daunting one. oldendaysAnd few city councillors are as entrenched as Frances Nunziata. Along with the city’s 180th birthday yesterday, the councillor celebrated her 180th year in office, I believe. [Actually, she was first elected as a York school board trustee in 1985. A York city councillor in 1988. York mayor in 1994. Amalgamated city councillor in 1997. But who’s counting? – ed.]

Whatever.

A municipal elected official for nearly 3 decades. An institution, really. The Municipal Institute of Cranky Pants at the Frances Nunziata campus.

You know, I’m not one for the term limits. I’ve said as much on this very site. If someone is doing a good job, serving their ward and its residents well, why arbitrarily chase them out?

But, come on, folks. This is Frances Nunziata we’re talking about. This isn’t a case of a forever politician serving her ward and residents well. Think that’s just my opinion? You don’t have to take my word for it. donothinglistThe councillor pretty much admits it herself.

“My ward never gets anything,” is a frequent lament heard coming from Councillor Nunziata’s mouth. If that’s so, whose fault is that, I ask? Look into the mirror, councillor. Look into the mirror, Ward 11.

A wag once told me that the key to Frances’ electoral success lies in her getting 9000 of her residents’ fences fixed. That’s fine, if that’s the kind of councillor she wants to be. But you can’t scream and shout about the big stuff while only focusing on small matters.

Besides, if her total absence of skills as Speaker of city council in any way reflects her overall abilities as a city councillor, I’d say voters in Ward 11 have simply stopped trying. They are merely going through the motions. X marks the circle with name recognition.

To have someone run unopposed in any election race is a bad sign for democracy. To have the likes of Councillor Frances Nunziata run unopposed is nothing short of a travesty. unopposedA slap in the face of all that is good and holy in a free and healthy political system. It’s the surest sign of apathy run rampant.

As of now, Councillor Nunziata is not the only incumbent facing zero opponents. There are six other wards in the city where challengers are absent in running against their councillor. That situation cannot stand. Any acclamation looks bad. Two bit. Small time.

Maybe voters are content with the representation they’re receiving. Why exert the effort if everything’s hunky dory, a-OK? You don’t fix what ain’t broke, am I right?

But you know, the election process isn’t simply about voting. It’s about having a conversation, having your say. Every four years every ward in the city gets to have its own debate. What’s important. What’s working. What’s not working. During that time, if a politician seeks another opportunity to represent the residents of a ward at City Hall, they should have to explain why, and set out their record of accomplishments and a new list of priorities to justify a renewal of that faith voters showed in them the previous time around.

All elected officials, no matter how effective or popular, need to have their feet held to the fire. A trial, if you will, in which they must lay out the case to warrant their re-election. whosontheballotThat can only happen if someone steps forward to challenge them. Failure to do so is an abdication of responsibility on the part of every single eligible resident.

If the likes of Councillor Frances Nunziata stands unopposed in her umpteenth re-election bid, her atrocious track record as city councillor unchallenged, then our system is clearly broken. It suggests that people, at least those living in Ward 11, really don’t care what goes on at City Hall. An electoral shrug. Oh well. What’s it matter?

In the end, you get the type of representation you deserve, I guess.

pleadingly submitted by Cityslikr