So the story goes…
Back in 2003, fed up with their representation at City Hall, some residents of Ward 16 took out an ad. Councillor Wanted! A plucky young go-getter named Karen Stintz applied for the job and the rest, as they say, is history.
I was thinking about that tale yesterday when finishing off the post about Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong registering to run for re-election in Ward 34 Don Valley East. Checking to see if he had any opponents yet, I found a serious dearth of information about the 3 candidates running against him. Two are present in name only. There’s nothing else immediately obvious about them. No website. No contact phone number. No social media offerings. The third, Sadiq Al-Ali, is on the Twitter and has a Facebook page with zero about him or his campaign platform.
Damn, I thought. Wasted opportunity with the incumbent making mayoral noises over the last few months. There was space to get their names out there, establish some credibility. Now, with the councillor officially in the race, it’s going to be a much tougher uphill battle for any challengers.
Then I started looking around to see what other incumbents were running again and facing little opposition. And let me elaborate on what I mean by little opposition. It isn’t a stringent definition. All I want is to Google a candidate’s name and be able to find out something about them. If I can’t, well, they’re not serious contenders.
Aside from Ward 34, I found 10 other wards where the sitting councillor was not facing much of a seeming challenge. Ward 11 York-South Weston, Frances Nunziata. Ward 13 Parkdale-High Park, Sarah Doucette. Ward 14 Parkdale-High Park, Gord Perks. Ward 15 Eglinton-Lawrence, Josh Colle. Ward 21 St. Paul’s, Joe Mihevc. Ward 22 St. Paul’s, Josh Matlow. Ward 25 Don Valley West, Jaye Robinson. Ward 31 Beaches-East York, Janet Davis. Ward 32 Beaches-East York, Mary-Margaret McMahon. (Yes, I’m not considering this as serious.) Ward 40 Scarborough Agincourt, Norm Kelly.
Now, I like a handful of these councillors and hope they’re re-elected. Nevertheless, each and every one of them needs to be campaigned against, forced to justify their past 4 years in office to the residents of their respective wards. The decisions they made. The votes they cast. Nobody should be content enough with their local representation to allow them to breeze through to re-election.
Perhaps most egregious of all are the incumbents currently sitting unopposed on the slate. Councillors Mihevc, Matlow, Robinson, Kelly and Nunziata. Frances Nunziata, folks! The worst kind of councillor needs to be chased from office in the worst way. After her significant contribution to the nasty, counter-productive tone at council this term, Councillor Nunziata should hardly be rewarded by being acclaimed back into office.
No elected official should ever be acclaimed. It really sends the signal that nobody gives a flying fuck about life in their ward and city. Yeah, whatevs. All politicians are [fill in your own variation of some meaningless, apathetic generalizations here.]
Now, I know there are some externalities to this campaign that may be affecting candidate commitments at this point. There’s going to be probably two federal by-elections in the city before municipal voting day in October including one in a high profile downtown riding. All signs indicate we’re going to find ourselves in a provincial election before then too. This means some probable candidates and the backroom organizing types who run campaigns are otherwise occupied. When the smoke clears from those, there will be a more serious consideration of the municipal campaign.
Still, there’s less than 6 months to go. It’s never easy to beat a sitting councillor. Incumbents don’t tend to defeat themselves, even the really awful ones. Name recognition is a tough nut to crack. It takes time and a long haul to overcome it.
But it has to start somewhere. Why not with A Councillor Wanted! campaign? Serious Candidates Need Only Apply. Legend has it, it worked once.
— helpfully submitted by Cityslikr