The other night, I spent ninety minutes watching Osgoode Ward candidates debate. It’s quite the life I live, I’ll admit. I’m going to offer some thoughts on the debate, and the race in general, bullet-point form:
- I understand that the needs of rural wards are different than urban or suburban wards (though there are issues where interests align). I try to assess who would be the best for the ward and who would make the best councillor for the city. I don’t think there’s too much conflict here; reasonable candidates who aren’t merely playing politics or buying votes will tend to do well on either metric.
- There are eleven candidates in the ward, of which nine attended the debate. That’s a pretty good turnout.
- Despite the volume of candidates, there doesn’t appear to be any fringe, unserious candidates. This is quite notable.
- There’s no incumbent and I have no idea who the front-runners are.
- I went into this debate tentatively supporting Davis Jermacans. He has a solid-enough platform; he has a vision that encompasses the whole city; and he puts forth reasonable ideas, rather than just telling people what they want to hear. After the debate, I felt the same way about Jermacans. I’d be happy if he won.
- Liam Maguire isn’t much like his brother Mike. Whereas Mike has a fairly detailed platform in his run for mayor, Liam is running as a let’s-get-some-commons-sense-on-council sort of candidate. He doesn’t always offer specific (or wise) solutions to issues. He tends to just hammer home on the perceived flaws of government.
- Tom Dawson has a fantastic voice. He was the most enjoyable to listen to and he seemed to be the most comfortable in front of a camera, almost always speaking to the camera (and, by extension, the voters) rather than at his fellow candidates. He spoke calmly but firmly. I really wouldn’t be surprised if he has broadcasting experience. Policy-wise, nothing really jumped out for me, good or bad.
- Although there were no crackpots in the debate, Allen Scantland had the weakest performance, offering the least-serious vision. I can’t really see him as a councillor.
- Bob Masaro wasn’t much better, but was a little better. He seemed more ready to be councillor than Scantland…but that’s not really an endorsement.
- Going into the debate, I hadn’t been overly impressed with Kim Sheldrick’s campaign. She seemed like someone who meant well, but didn’t really seem like an effective politician. I came away from the debate much more impressed. She’s not a polished politician, that’s for certain, but she seems to have a good grasp on the issues of the ward and the limitations of some of the proposed solutions. She has been very involved in her community over the years. The dedication shows. I think she would make a very empathetic councillor. I think she’d be a good advocate for the ward. I don’t know if she’d off much more than that (although, that might be enough).
- I got no real read on George Darouze. Neither good nor bad.
- Jean Johnston-McKitterick did very well. She really held court at times, speaking confidently, influencing the direction of the debate and demonstrating a sufficient depth of knowledge. Judging by the debate alone, she’d make a decent councillor.
- I’ve saved George Wright for last. I didn’t know much about Wright before the debate. Apparently, he has some history representing the area in local government. That might help him out. Unfortunately, I’m not confident that his campaign will be very successful, and that’s really unfortunate. You see, Wright was by far the most impressive of the debate. He didn’t always have the best answers and he didn’t always have the best delivery, but he had other things on offer that were generally missing from the other candidates: humility and empathy. Asked about the rural/(sub)urban divide, he spoke of the issue of roads–for cars and trucks in the country and for bikes in the city. The way he spoke, I was waiting for the “but”, the split between the two regions, but it never came. He sees how we all have the same issues, just slightly different. When it came to the Green Bin program, he said that it was begun with good intentions. Again, you would expect a “but”, but, again, it never came. For Wright, the Green Bin (for all its problems) was a worthwhile initiative that needed to be improved upon, not scrapped. This earnestness–this refusal to play to the politics of division–is refreshing and it is needed. To be clear, he wasn’t saying that everyone just had to get along; he was demonstrating that he was willing to treat everyone with respect. For that alone, I’d love to see him elected.
So coming out of the debate, things aren’t that much more clear for me. I still like Jermacans, but I like Wright just as much (possibly more, not sure), but there are others that I would certainly be ok with.