Wards To Watch — Surprise Edition

There’s a dust up brewing over in Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth where Jane Farrow, the Jane Farrow, former CBC media type, donnybrookformer Executive Director of Jane’s (the other Jane) Walk, former Executive Assistant to Councillor Mary Margaret McMahon and just generally fabulous left of center Jane Farrow registered to run against the incumbent, Paula Fletcher, a well-established, long time left of center councillor who barely squeaked out a victory in 2010 over media celebrity, notably not left of center and back for another run at it, Liz West.

VOTE SPLIT!! was the almost immediate reaction by many City Hall watchers, with the assumption generally being that this automatically paves the way to victory for Ms. West. Each ballot cast for Ms. Farrow would be one less cast for Ms. Fletcher. ptahasdisbandedThat only needed to happen about 250 times and the race would be over.

This is presumptuous on a whole bunch of levels.

To start, Councillor Fletcher hasn’t even registered to run yet. Sure, the election’s still over 5 months away but if she is in the race, she really should signal her intentions. Waiting on the sidelines is kind of oily incumbent behaviour. Keep everybody guessing. Either a bunch of people jump in with the expectation of an open ward, ending up carving up the vote or it keeps everybody on the sidelines, wondering, should they enter, shouldn’t they, until it’s too late to mount a serious campaign.

As I tweeted out when the news broke, since when has incumbency bestowed any sort of squatter’s rights on a ward? kingofthecastleA designated position until either the candidate or voters deign to say otherwise. Until there’s an actual vote splitting scenario, you know, between two actual candidates, maybe we can back off the sturm und drang for a bit.

More annoyingly, who says all progressive, left of center voters are the same, expect the same from candidates? It is hardly a uniform bloc of singular group think. In fact, just the opposite, much to its exploitable electoral detriment.

Maybe it’s time that Councillor Fletcher has her progressive qualifications taken out for a test run, see if they’re still what the residents in Ward 30 are looking for. My guess is, while there is much overlap between the two, she and Ms. Farrow have some very distinct views of what constitute progressive values in Toronto in 2014. allthesameA good airing out of ideas and opinions never hurt any discourse or policy positions in the long run.

Besides, how do we know for a fact that this thing’ll get settled on a left-right split? Sure, Liz West was a Ford-lite sounding waste and efficiency finding vessel and Councillor Fletcher was a high ranking target of the outgoing David Miller administration. While I don’t think she’d achieved a Sandra Bussin level of loathing in the media, Fletcher did make something of a spectacle of herself when she badgered one budget deputant she thought to be a John Tory radio show plant. “Come on down, baby!”

Couldn’t it have been Ms. West just struck Ward 30 residents as the best possible alternative to Fletcher in 2010? She was a two term councillor at the time. Maybe she had just almost worn out her welcome.

What’s not to say that Jane Farrow may present Ward 30 voters as their best alternative come October? toughchoiceIn that case, she may just as well strip votes from Liz West who, to the best of my knowledge, hasn’t spent the time between the last election and this one, working the constituency, establishing herself ready to step up and serve as city councillor. Unless, of course, appearing on Hamilton TV constitutes working the constituency.

Look, I don’t have any beef with Councillor Paula Fletcher. Her voting record over the last 4 years shows a strong resistance to the Ford agenda. The Boys and their crew never missed an opportunity to drag her name out as the prime example of the tax and spenders they were constantly doing battle with in order to be respecting the taxpayers.

But from my perch observing the proceedings at City Hall, she was not one of the go-to bulwark stalwarts against the hurry up offense of the Fords. toughchoice2That grunt work was done more often than not by the likes of councillors Shelley Carroll, Janet Davis, Gord Perks and Adam Vaughan, both at council meetings and with regular appearances as visiting councillors at standing committees where much of the public input happened and policy decisions took shape. A reliable no vote? Sure. But there’s that goes into the sausage making than that.

Perhaps most annoyingly about all this is that we’re still having the same conversation about vote splitting. If there was ever the case to be made for ranked ballots, this would be it. Two candidates, of similar political persuasion, neither would be a terrible choice for councillor. rabitOne speaks to your sensibilities, just a little bit more. That one is # 1. The other, # 2. And let the run off begin.

Unfortunately, we’re still lagging behind on that count. Until such time as we finally step up and embrace ranked ballots (Hello, Queen’s Park!) voters are going to sometimes have to face the unpleasant prospect of vote splitting. We’re not there yet in Ward 30. So let’s take a step back, relax, and enjoy having too many good candidates to choice from rather than too few.

excitedly submitted by Cityslikr

8 Responses to Wards To Watch — Surprise Edition

  1. Surprised that you say “presumptuous on a whole bunch of levels” like that isn’t the DEFAULT setting of a majority of our Noble-Rotundans and their Coteries.

    Sadly, Incumbency bestows a myraid of squatter’s rights, and unfair advantages upon a sitting (or sleeping) Councillor.

    I am a 100% advocate of Term-Limits (12 yr Council + 12 yr Mayor = 24 yr posible total), which I know you are not a supporter of…


    …but I hope to win you over (*maybe, with Paula Fletcher’s help).

    I would respectfully suggest that Toronto Council needs BOTH Ranked-Ballots and Term-Limits so that we can cleanse our Ward maps of it’s various fiefdoms like –



    Fordor (*There – Be Dragons..!)

  2. Paul says:

    Sometimes I find your wide-eyed optimism about politics a little too Pollyanna-ish for my taste. Your analysis seems to lack any sense of realpolitik. In a council full of deadweight and destructive right-wingers, asking why strong progressive candidates would choose to run against one another is a legitimate question. There can be reasonable answers to that question, but I disagree that it is antidemocratic to be unsatisfied with those answers given the current political context.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Paul,

      Thank you. We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke like being called wide-eyed optimists and Pollyanna-ish. It’s better than the opposite which only breeds contempt and apathy.

      We never suggested there wasn’t a time for realpolitik. Only that the time wasn’t now, when the sitting incumbent hasn’t even announced her intentions to run again. Incumbency comes with all sorts of built in advantages come campaign time. Why on earth should we grant them even more of an upper-hand by insisting anyone of similar political ilk wait and see if they’re going to run again? That seems highly undemocratic to us.

    • The problem on Council (on left and right) is one of deadweight and dogmatists.

      Blind Dogma and general unwillingness to accept that the demographics of this City have moved & shifted a LOT since 1998 mean that we have the same fights over-and-over like some kind of Municipal “Groundhog Day”.

      Changing the players would help to change that script – and break the inertia at City Hall.

  3. Sonny says:

    The last time I saw Paula she was wearing a plastic foot cast. She is the incumbent and I guess we’ll have to see how the Tabuns(Fletcher) campaign does vs the Libs(West) & Greens(Farrow)…

    In Davenport Bailao & Palacio are supporting the Lib vs Schein which would give an indication of their resiliency municipally…

  4. Paula should get the boot for messing over Heather Terraces Dont be surprised if someone else enters the race It could the guy whose housing is being ruined for the sake of a condo deal I would love it if someone on the autism spectrum was at city hall.Better than a condo queen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: