In a bit of a surprise move (though there have been rumours), former councillor and 2010 mayoral candidate Clive Doucet has registered to run for mayor. As I write this, there are only 76 minutes left before nominations close, so Doucet is getting in just under the wire.
It’s being reported that he decided last night at 7:00 PM, when it was clear there would be no other strong challengers to Jim Watson.
Is Doucet a serious threat to Watson, well, we’ll see I guess. It’ll be quite a challenge to take Watson down and it’s not clear that Doucet is the best person to do it, but it’s clear that he’s better positioned than most.
As an experienced councillor and politician, he should have an above-average grasp on issues and the intricacies of city governance. He also doesn’t seem like he’ll be cowed by the mayor, so even if he’s not going to threaten Watson with defeat (though, who knows?), he is going to challenge the mayor on the issues, and this is something the city desperately needs.
Watson has a compliant council, for the most part. There’s a handful of councillors who are willing to challenge him, but too many are happy to fall in line and absorb some of Watson’s reflected glory. He doesn’t get challenged consistently, and is often able to do what he wants.
When he does get challenged–either by other council members, by the public or by the press–he has a habit of caving. From safe injection sites to the proposed women’s bureau to the recent Harmer Bridge detour fiasco, and even all the way back to the campaign to save the Aberdeen Pavillion, Watson has often found himself on the wrong side of an issue–either in terms of prudence or politics–and he is willing to alter or change his policy in order to position himself at the front of a popular issue.
It’s kind of gross and deeply cynical. It shows that he doesn’t really have a vision for the city. But, hey, it’s better he come around to the right decision than cling to mistakes and hold the city back.
So now it’s time for the campaign. We’ll have to see what kind of a challenge Doucet can muster. We’ll also have to see what kind of coverage he gets. The local press has to be happy about this. The mayoral race was looking really dull, but that should be changing.
Further, this could have an impact on councillor races. Without an interesting mayoral race, people may be less likely to turn out to vote or to even pay attention. Hopefully, Doucet’s decision will lead to more engagement and a better council next term, no matter who winds up as mayor.
And, of course, this is all assuming there’s no other surprise nominations. There’s still 64 minutes…