Such is the voter’s dilemma, living in a first past the post electoral world.
You come across a candidate who hits all the right notes and you think to yourself, yeah, I can get behind this one at about the exact time you realize, yeah, they don’t have a hope in hell of winning.
That’s me and Ari Goldkind right now.
Running as he is for mayor in a town that doesn’t take kindly to electing strangers to that position, calling his campaign a long shot is being generous. At this juncture, Mr. Goldkind sits with about 52 other candidates out on the fringes of the race, Don Quixote’s all of them, tilting at a seemingly impregnable windmill.
Anyone who has followed us here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke from the beginning knows that we spent a lot of time and bytes during the 2010 election writing about the fringe candidates for mayor. Hell, we even ended up endorsing one of them. We have a certain fondness for the outsiders especially when the slate of endorsed insiders can be so patently uninspiring.
The fact of the matter, however, is that 95% of those relegated to the fringes are fringe candidates. Madmen, publicity seekers, stunt takers and single issue candidates. Few have any sort of grasp of the full breadth of issues this city faces. What makes them run is anyone’s guess but even in a campaign as long as our municipal one is, there’s not enough time to spend offering up a wider platform to them.
After attending Ari Goldkind’s campaign launch last Wednesday, I can confidently say that we would be doing ourselves a huge disservice if we continue to think of him as unelectable and not worth our time listening to. Yes, the odds remain high against him. Until he can get himself on the radar of the mainstream media, he will continue to be an unknown. Toronto does not have a history of throwing caution to the wind and electing a complete outsider like Naheed Nenshi, say.
Am I comparing Goldkind to Nenshi? No. But I think any progressive voter should take a moment or two to look through his campaign literature and the issues he is talking about.
Most impressively for me is his boldness in talking upfront about the necessity for more taxes, tolls and other revenue streams. “Toronto Needs the Truth” his campaign flyer insists. He’s also not afraid to talk about one of the city’s biggest budgetary bugaboos: the Toronto Police Services.
As a proud, self-proclaimed outsider to municipal politics, I have some concerns Mr. Goldkind hasn’t fully brushed up on all the nuances of municipal powers and the always thorny matter of city-province jurisdiction. It won’t be as easy as just declaring an intention to toll. The city currently doesn’t have the power to collect any HST. Queen’s Park hangs protectively over all such decisions.
But, hell, if that lack of knowledge disqualified every candidate from running for office, there would never have been a Mayor Rob Ford.
More worrisome for me is Ari Goldkind’s lone wolf/anti-career politician campaign rhetoric. (h/t to @judemacdonald for this particular conversation.) While he sits diametrically opposed to everything Rob Ford represents, the two men share a certain seeming disdain for a collaborative approach that city council depends on to function. Of this mayor’s many colossal failures, perhaps the most damaging in terms of governance was his go-it alone, my way or the highway approach. A mayor unable to work with those not always sharing the same opinion or ideology is a mayor unable to lead the city.
At this point, however, I will give Ari Goldkind the benefit of the doubt. Inclusion is not necessarily the language of the outsider, long shot candidate. Certainly the speech he gave at his campaign launch was much less combative, as he spoke of surrounding himself with smart people with differing opinions.
As voters, we will do ourselves a huge disservice if we don’t insist on Ari Goldkind getting a shot on stage to debate the other mayoral candidates. With the news that Sarah Thomson will get the fill-in spot in Rob Ford’s absence at next week’s National Ethnic Press mayoral
debate round table discussion, obviously the definition of ‘fringe candidate’ is somewhat elastic. Sure, sure. She ran in 2010 and gained almost no traction before dropping out late in the race. Nothing she’s done subsequently lends any credence to the notion she’ll fare better this time around.
If we can’t even dream a little at this point of time in the municipal campaign and insist that all credible candidates get an opportunity to be heard, what chances are there that we can move beyond accepted conventional wisdom in building a better city? Ari Goldkind has, I think, proven to be a credible candidate for mayor. He has a small but committed and enthusiastic organization behind him. His platform is one many progressive voters can get excited about. There is no downside that I can see to this campaign if he moves from the fringe and joins the always unofficial rank of serious contender.
Let’s see to it that happens. Let’s demand that it happens.
— pushily submitted by Cityslikr