Meet A Mayoral Candidate XXV

Lucky Friday the 13th and with it, even luckier still, another installment of Meet A Mayoral Candidate!

Up this week: Dave Lichacz!!

What, wait now. Dave Lichacz? Who the hell’s Dave Lichacz? Did he just register to run?

Well no. In an attempt to truly get inside the mind of an outsider candidate – a “fringer” if you must – we thought we’d talk to one who wasn’t actively campaigning in order to get a more open, unguarded view. So we dug deep into the archives and hopped into our wayback machine (you have one of those too, don’t you?), traveling to a simpler time when the grass was greener, our dollar was weaker and tomatoes actually tasted like tomatoes.

The year was 2003. The execrable Mel Lastman regime was doddering off to Florida. Change was in the air. Anything and everything felt possible.

That’s when Dave Lichacz threw his hat into the ring. Why would he do that? Sure, the race was wide open with no incumbent but even a sitting councillor like David Miller was considered a long shot. What did Lichacz hope to accomplish?

“I ran for office because I felt that I could do as good a job, if not better, than a career politician who had special interest groups in his/hers back pocket. I felt that because I had distance between myself and any political influence that I looked better as a candidate who could get a job done without any pressure of people who elected me (big business) to give hand outs once I got into office.”

So he was the populist outsider. Mr. Smith meets John Doe. If you can’t fight City Hall, take control of it.

“Plus I felt that it was my duty to at least try. This way I could complain. If I didn’t try everyone says, well, why don’t you do something about it. So I did.”

Mr. Lichacz got up from the armchair and set out to get elected mayor of Toronto. Hopefully with a wallet full of cash or the beneficence of a wealthy benefactor. Yes?

“The only resources I had was $500 of my own money and some help from friends and colleagues.”

A couple of those friends ran a small printing firm offered to do all of the print literature, posters and signs for free in exchange for a tax receipt.

“As far as a campaign team I had me. I created policy statements which I mailed, emailed faxed to all the radio and TV stations in town. A new one each day until I was satisfied that I had covered the critical issues.”

What more could the media want? An engaged, hardworking candidate, keeping abreast of the issues that were relevant during the campaign and who let them know where he stood. They must’ve just eaten that up and offered plenty of airtime and space in the broadsheets.

“I didn’t hear anything back from a single one,” Mr. Lichacz told us. Come on! Don’t tell us that. Surely you were invited to the debate your opponents.

“I did take part in one debate although I wouldn’t call it a debate. It was more of a policy statement meeting and meet the candidates. The only big name that showed up and stayed for 5 minutes was Tom Jacobek. A lack of profile hurt me.”

As it was, so it will ever be… or something biblical sounding like that. The media decides which candidates to follow. How? Who knows. Names from a hat? Pig entrails? Probably just pure, utter and lazy name recognition. We know you or know somebody important who knows you. All others need not apply. Sometimes democracy is simply too messy.

Just how discouraging was it, to plug away and be simply ignored?

“I was in over my head and if I really wanted to make a difference I would have to get financial backing to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars.”

In the end, Lichacz wound up 18th of 44 candidates running for mayor in 2003, garnering 659 votes in the process. Although well behind the eventual winner, David Miller, Lichacz figures he was much more effective, monetarily speaking. At $500 spent and 659 votes, that’s 1.3 votes/$1. Mayor Miller spent $2 000 000 for 299 385 votes which equals .15 votes/$1.

“I realize now the amount of dollars involved in any type of political aspirations.”

A familiar refrain, seven years later? Money = power. How else to explain the ascension to viable candidate status by someone like Sarah Thomson, no less a political neophyte than Dave Lichacz.

We asked Mr. Lichacz the question we’ve asked all our “other candidates” with only a slight modification. If the current mayor sees his legacy as the Transit Mayor, what would the legacy have been of a Mayor Lichacz?

“I hope my legacy would’ve been to take a Toronto that was on the road to financial difficulties and make some difficult decisions. I would have tried to limit the power special interest groups had over the city and concentrate on helping the majority of citizens.”

A noble goal and a guy undaunted by the prospect of losing in order to try and have his voice heard and views acknowledged. How many others are out there right now, hard at it, wanting to make a difference to the city they live in? And why do we insist on allowing ourselves to continue ignoring them? It’s almost as if we’re afraid of entertaining new ideas, insights and opinions, grumpily content to merely rehash and recycle all that is tired and horribly shopworn.

dutifully submitted by Cityslikr

A Transit Solution Proposal

Generally speaking, the New York city subway system is not what you’d call beautiful. Very few fancy-schmancy, artistically rendered stops. Functional, turn of the last century, drab holes in the ground with newer vehicles running through a true maze of tunnels; occasionally idiosyncratic, rarely welcoming. It is a little confusing at first with your A-W, 1-8 trains, express or local runs, uptown, downtown, Rockaway bound mélange although not impossible to quickly learn how to navigate. Cleaner and freer of debris than the much less extensive moving far fewer people Toronto subway. 

But on a late morning on any day of the week, you can get from the upper west side of Manhattan to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn in a matter of minutes for the low, low price of $2.25. No fuss, little bother. Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom.

Beyond the shadow of a doubt, a subway is the best, most efficient way to move a mass of people throughout a densely populated area. About this there can be little argument. Except of course when it comes to cost. To build subways in this day and age is a pricey, pricey proposition. In most cases, prohibitively so. $300 million per stop is one estimate I have seen. So instead we talk up the benefits of LRT, environmentally friendly buses and the like. Poor second choices, runners up, consolation prize winners.

Here is another idea.

How be we take $1 billion, just over the cost of building 3 subway stops, and use the funds to develop a time machine? Hear me out, people, hear me out on this. We could then travel back in time to a low cost era – the early part of the 20th-century or just after World War II – where we would construct a much grander, wider ranging subway than we did at the time, forewarned as we would be with the knowledge of how big Toronto would get and how important public transit would be to our future well-being.

If that’s unrealistic due to a mere billion dollars not getting us that far back in time, we could spend less and return to a more recent era. Say just 25, 30 years ago before we started electing short-sighted, narrow-minded, parochial politicians who lacked the intestinal fortitude to do what was right for the health of our major urban areas. Aim for about 1980 or so when dim-witted, neo-liberalism became all the rage, ravaging good governance and sound future planning in its greedy gob.

It might work. Won’t know until we try.

helpfully submitted by Cityslikr