Capital Ward Debate Re-Cap and Endorsement

Oh. My. God.

So, dear readers, you know I’ve watched a bunch of municipal debates. I’ve watched the Capital Ward televised debate twice, and that’s only one of the 16 ward debates I’ve watched. Well, tonight I went to the local all-candidates debate for Capital Ward. That was a slog.

Before I get into it, I do want to point out that the local community associations put in a lot of work, and it really was a tremendous undertaking that they pulled off very, very well. Further, Postmedia’s David Reevely did a fine job as moderator, keeping things moving, but not getting in the way of the candidates.

Still. Two Hours. In those chairs. Listening to a bunch of the same lines from the televised debate (and not just slogans or tag lines, word-for-word arguments). I just wanted to get out by the end.

(Also, don’t expect the best grammar, spelling and whatnot…I’m exhausted, and I’m putting as much energy into this as I can. I will, however, do my best not to swear.)

Still, it was somewhat illuminating. Let’s take a real quick run-through the debate performances. I’m going to go in order they were sitting.

Jide Afolabi came off well. He has a lot of ideas. He calls them bold, but I’m not sure that’s how I’d describe them. They’re definitely outside-the-box, and he is thinking of different solutions to local issues, so that’s something. He didn’t stand out too much; his performance was very similar to his Rogers debate performance. So I’d still say he’s a much stronger candidate than I thought he was at the outset of the campaign, but I still don’t think he has much of a chance. The others seem to have bigger bases of support.

Anthony Carricato has been the biggest disappointment in this campaign. I met with Anthony back in the spring, and I was impressed. I though he had some good ideas, and he seemed to have a good perspective. That’s not how the campaign has worked out, though.

He’s repeated his 2% should be a ceiling not a floor promise. He dodged a question about transit fares, claiming that people don’t take the bus because of service (fair point), fares have nothing to do with it (uh…). Despite his desire to not raise taxes, he still has plans to spend more money, so I don’t how that’s going to work out.

It kind of feels like he’s trying to stand out from the crowd, but the reason no one recently has been willing to make a zero-percent-tax-increase argument is because it’s just not feasible. Menard pointed out we know what zero-means-zero actually means in this city.

Carricato did make himself stand out in one way, one horrible way. He wants to force bicyclists to wear helmets. (There wasn’t even a question about helmets; it was about bike lights.) Yeah, there’s no evidence that they do any good, and there’s preliminary evidence that the make bicycling more dangerous, but still. He also decried bicyclists not following the rules. Drivers have to, so bikes should, too.

Okay, once more, the reason bicyclists break the law is to save their frigging lives. I ride the sidewalk on the Bank Street Bridge and on Carling Avenue because those streets are horribly dangerous. I roll through stop signs and jump reds because it gets me away from traffic. I salmon down my street because otherwise I have to turn left onto Bank Street, then immediately turn left off of it, without the aid of a stop light.

Carricato doesn’t like these innocent, necessary measures that help ensure my safety. He wants to outlaw my life and health.

So, basically, if you want a suburban councillor to represent Capital Ward, vote Carricato.

David Chernushenko has become a man of mysteries. I pointed out how in the Rogers debate, he wanted to have everything both ways. He supports bikes, but he killed a bike lane! He opposed Fifth + Bank but he voted for it! He pledged to the 2% target, but wouldn’t be bound by it! Well, it continued.

He said all that stuff again, yes, but his whole demeanour was different. He talked about how he didn’t like to talk about his accomplishments, yet he held up a list of 40 accomplishments, and regularly talked about all the stuff he’d done (he even kind of took credit for the work of a long-established charity, the King’s Daughters & Sons).

He opened up the whole thing by talking about how he’s a nice guy (he closed on this, too) and how that’s good because we don’t need angry politics, we have too much of that (fair). But then he spent a good chunk of the debate angry, lashing out (even at Somerset Ward councillor Catherine McKenney).

He talked about his support for biking, but he also said that we have to have four lanes of car traffic on the Bank Street Bridge.

Carricato ragged on him for the “tired” comment, and it was a pretty good hit. Chernushenko closed saying that he had a lot of energy now and a lot more miles kilometres* left on his bike.

…but, y’know, I saw him driving home from the debate, so maybe not that many more miles kilometres. (Though, with four lanes of car traffic, biking over the Bank Street Bridge is stupid dangerous. Maybe the next councillor can give him a safe route to his neighbourhood.)

Christine McAllister was her same strong self. She spoke well, and had some good ideas. In her opener, she set herself up to be the candidate of choice, saying there were three things people should look for…but she didn’t really pay that off.

See, here’s where I struggle with McAllister. She’s good, definitely, but she doesn’t really stand out that much. I disagree with her on a few issues, but she generally has some very good perspectives on issues, and she definitely cares, but there’s just not that payout. She’s not really going that next step–offering solutions, offering a vision, differentiating herself, even from the incumbent.

She didn’t really get into much of a back-and-forth with anyone…and I don’t just mean silly debating things; I mean demonstrating the real contrast between platforms. Part of the issue is that her platform is very process oriented. There are things she wants to achieve, but she tends to talk a lot about how we need a plan for this and we need to set up a process for that.

That’s fine, to an extent, and she’s definitely thought about a lot of important issues, and I think she’s generally good on most of them, but more is desirable.

Shawn Menard started out nice and friendly and approachable. It was an interesting juxtaposition to Chernushenko. Whereas Chernushenko had to tell people he was nice, Menard came off that way in his opening statement.

And on that note, this was, in many ways, a debate between Shawn Menard and David Chernushenko. Menard was the first one to go on the attack against the incumbent, and the onlyl one to do it consistently. He contradicted Chernushenko on his record (and Chernushenko regularly had no comeback–like his repeated support for transit hikes).

There was a notable exchange talking about collaboration with other councillors (I think that’s what it was). Menard spoke, then Chernushenko spoke, then Menard spoke again (which wasn’t really the format, but was allowed). He really hammered at Chernushenko’s track record and his (lack of) accomplishments. Chernushenko then spoke again. He clearly wasn’t comfortable with the barrage.

That’s actually the way it’s been. Chernushenko doesn’t look comfortable. He looks threatened and worried, and he doesn’t come off well in such a scernario. He gets chippy and defensive. He gets snide and cynical (even when calling other councillors cynical). He gets angry and combative.

Yes, when his job is on the line, he gets angry and combative. When it’s our neighbourhood or our city on the line, he’s friendly and conciliatory.

Menard was definitely the most productive in the debate. He scored the most blows against Chernushenko. He pressed the issues more than anyone else (other than maybe Carricato, but, well…) and he presented as many policy proposals as anyone else. Further, he demonstrated that he had a better grasp on general city issues and solutions than the other challengers.

Carricato took aim at Menard at one point, saying that others will come up with these ideas that have worked in other cities, but… actually, I forget the rest of his argument (maybe something about scaling back and living within our means? Look, I’m tired, ok?). It was a bit of an odd attack–you have too many ideas that have proven successful somewhere else!

Okay, enough with the stupid re-cap.

Endorsement: Shawn Menard.

Maybe Shawn Menard has an advantage, here. He has a background that no other candidate has. He worked for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. He worked for the Big City Mayor’s Caucus. He currently works with municipalities across Canada. So he definitely has an advantage in understanding the issues facing Ottawa.

But here’s the key: it’s not an unfair advantage; it’s further demonstration of why he’s, head-and-shoulders, the best candidate.

Menard understands city issues, because he clearly has a passion for the city, the community and for urban development. He’s clearly interested both in working in the community (based on all the work and all the success he’s had as a community activist), and in understanding how city’s function.

When he speaks to issues, he speaks about them, holistically. Transit isn’t just a transportation issue; it’s an environmental issue; it’s a gender issue; it’s an equality issue; and it’s economic issue.

Poverty and homelessness is a question of compassion and dignity, but there’s also an economic benefit to helping people get off the streets.

We don’t see this from the other candidates, certainly not to this degree. For instance, Chernushenko will speak to the environmental aspect of an issue, but he doesn’t acknowledge the gender or class components.

We can’t fix our city, without a holistic understanding of the issues we face, and how they interact. We can’t just have bold ideas without a grounding in how they’ll work, and we can’t rely solely on a commitment to working for the community without a full understanding of what that work will entail.

We do need a councillor who can build bridges, as they say, and work in collaboration with other councillors, but Menard has a track record of doing that. Further, when that issue came up, he was the one to talk about how urban, suburban and rural issues aligned.

Nonetheless, we can’t keep having the same complacent, conciliatory voice at the council table. We do need someone who can, at times, pound the table for the most important issues facing the ward and the city. We need someone who will speak up and won’t capitulate. That’s not what we have now.

Different councillors have different things to offer, but no other councillor offers all that Menard does. For the last four years, residents in this ward have looked to other councillors, neighbouring councillors, for inspiration, support and leadership. It would be nice to get that from our own councillor.

If we choose Shawn Menard, we can.

*A reader noted my use of “miles”, and I know how irritating it is when people don’t use the right type of measurement, so I’m changing it to metric. I wasn’t trying to quote him, there, but I’m pretty sure he did, indeed, say kilometres.

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Osgoode Debate Re-Cap and Endorsement

Four years ago, Osgoode was one of the most interesting races out there; no incumbent, a crowded field of quality candidates, it all made for some good municipal politics watching.

George Darouze came out of the race with a slim victory, in part due to the endorsement of the popular councillor Doug Thompson (I think? Am I mis-remembering that?). He’s been a reliable, if uninspiring councillor. He’s definitely been able to get money into the ward to fix up the roads (a constant issue in rural areas), including finagling some of the Christmas Miracle money back in December.

(Sure, it was pretty hypocritical, but voters won’t be thinking about that as they sail down smooth asphalt.)

Darouze has three challengers this election: Mark Scharfe–who has run and failed before, and created the doomed and dismal “Property Owners Slate” last time; Jay Tysick–who most recently failed to get a nomination from the provincial Tories; and Kim Sheldrick–an active community member who ran four years ago. So let’s take a look.

I’m going to go in order they were standing during the debate:

Mark Scharfe is exactly who we thought he was. He likes garbage pick-up, and he hates recycling and the green bin…he even wants to pay garbage collectors to get a bonus if they pick up even more garbage (and he calls this a left wing position). He has a lot of disdain for urban wards. He thinks people only ever ride the bus because they’re poor and can’t afford a car. And he really likes Doug Ford’s plan to sabotage municipal governance in Toronto.

Jay Tysick was much more slick (also, I learned how to properly pronounce his name; it’s like Tizzick). We already know a bit about Tysick from his attempt to get a recent PC nomination in Carleton, but he was definitely trying to come off as more polished and respectable this time around. He likes burning garbage. He repeatedly claimed there was no longer a cop in Osgoode Ward (Darouze seemed to effectively prove that wrong…but what do I know?). And he called the urban councillors deadwood because they tend to have similar views on issues. He thinks we need fewer councillors from those wards, but def maintain rural over-representation.

(Every candidate in this debate shat on urban wards. It was quite something. You don’t see this reciprocated in urban debates–maybe from urban dwellers, but not from their representatives. It’s gross. It’s selfish. And it’s incredibly entitled.)

Tysick was mainly an attack dog, going after Darouze, claiming poor representation. He and Scharfe repeatedly hammered Darouze on the stormwater tax, arguing the tax burden on rural residents is supremely unfair. Darouze had the facts on his side (the alternative was an even bigger tax burden for rural residents), but I’m not sure it really got trough.

Y’know, it was funny. One thing Tysick hit Darouze on was his inability to form coalitions to get stuff done…yet he also made a point of insulting current councillors. How’s that going to work out for him or for the ward?

Also of note: every other candidate hit Tysick for not living in the ward. I’m not sure why he’s running in Osgoode, if he doesn’t live there. Maybe he just doesn’t like Darouze. Maybe he’s shopping for an easier win.

George Darouze was George Darouze. I mean, what do you expect? He talked up all the money he’s brought in to fix roads, and his consultations. He was generally calm and had a good handle on all the issues. He was standard incumbent, with nothing really exceptional in any way.

Kim Sheldrick ran last time, but she didn’t really challenge Darouze in that race. You’d think she’d get a little more traction this time around without such a crowded field. She spoke a lot about her involvement in the community, her roots in the ward and her commitment to rural living. She had a handful of topics that she was very well informed on (burning trash and the value of safe injection sites). She wasn’t as strong on every other topic, but that’s the life of a challenger. Very few have a full, holistic understanding of what’s going on at City Hall. That’s not a knock on her, just reality.

Endorsement: Kim Sheldrick

Sheldrick wasn’t my choice last time, but I was quite impressed…and the thing is, I’m even more impressed this time. In the debate, she was able to press a few ideas, and channel the feelings of rural residents. She demonstrated intelligence, the ability to learn about an issue and clear-thinking when it came to city issues. Her record of volunteering and working with local organizations shows that she has the work ethic to effectively respond to resident needs.

She really shone when the topic turned to pot shops and, especially, overdose prevention. She clearly knew the most about the issues…so much more than anyone else. She has experience working with people suffering from addictions, and knows about the dangers of unregulated street drugs.

And she was passionate. She cared. People suffering, people at risk of overdoses…these weren’t object lessons for her and these weren’t pawns in some political game-playing. She got visibly upset when countering the bullshit coming from other candidates–and I don’t mean that in some stupid, misogynistic oh the woman got upset way. No, she knows this a life-and-death issue, and she wasn’t going to dispassionately dismiss people suffering from addiction as disposable.

We should get mad. We should be mad that there are still politicians who willfully and gleefully ignore all evidence, and put untold thousands or millions at risk.

But more than that, Sheldrick is the only one who demonstrated any empathy for other people. She spoke from the heart about the need for affordable housing and social services–and she was the only one to do so. She wants this city, as well as Osgoode Ward, to be a better place, for everyone.

I don’t presume that she has much of a chance…I don’t really know. But I do know she’s a candidate I would desperately love to see at the council table this January.

Somerset Endorsement

When I wrote my Kitchissippi and Rideau-Rockliffe endorsements, I talked about plucking the low-hanging fruit. Yeah, this one’s a damn root vegetable.

Endorsement: Catherine McKenney

Shut up. You don’t need me to explain this to you.

Capital Ward Debate Re-cap

So tomorrow is the local Capital Ward debate. In preparation for that, I thought I’d do a write up of the Rogers debate. I watched it the other day, but let’s go through it, again. Rather than do a running commentary, I’ll just do a re-cap of each segment of the debate.

Time to fire up the Sutcliffe Machine!

Opening Statement

Christine McAllister: McAllister starts off with a personal statement about her and her background (she grew up in affordable housing) and moves on to her volunteer work and local successes. She also speaks to bringing a different perspective to city council as a woman.

She was confident, but reserved. I’d like to see her rev things up a bit.

Shawn Menard: Menard opens up with the way City Hall works and how it works for developers–how it’s lost his way. He speaks to the work his campaign has done so far (like the OOE tree), and his knowledge of how city governance works (his experience with FCM, etc.). He wants services to be more equitable so that all residents of all means are receiving what they need from the city. He declares that his will be the most progressive campaign.

He was more animated than McAllister and spoke faster (hence the more content). He needs to be sure not to lose his train of thought as he’s chugging along.

Anthony Carricato: Carricato wants better representation at City Hall–smart development, sustainability. He touts his experience and education. He wants change. He wants a councillor that can collaborate with other councillors and get things done (Chernushenko can maybe do the first part).

He was stiff, relying a lot on reading his statement. It lays out the groundwork for a good platform, but we’ll have to wait and see where that goes.

David Chernushenko: He talks about listening and collaborating and building bridges…leading us to the most awkward and ham-fisted segue of the campaign, building bridges! He says that if we want a competent councillor, “he offers us the Flora Footbridge”. My God, he wants us to vote for a bridge! Okay, just kidding, but he did not execute that rhetorical flourish well, at all. He says it’ll be completed five years ahead of schedule! Of course, if you went to the groundbreaking, you’d’ve heard all the politicians chuckling about how this bridge has been planned for one hundred years. So, yeah, only partial credit on that.

He goes back to that bridge-building metaphor. Oof.

Now he’s saying that’s how he works, and that’s how got stuff done on, for instance, the O’Connor bike lane–he helped kill the O’Connor bike lane in Capital Ward. How is that a feather in his cap!?

And we end with that bridge-builder line.

Jide Afolabi: This election is about the future of our city (why yes, it is). We need innovation for livability, sustainability and economic good stuff (sorry, I’m a little slow). He warns against stagnation and promotes bold ideas, like green roofs and tree corps (cool). also something about developments…but Sutcliffe cuts him off as his time is up.

First Question: Is the city becoming too responsive to developers and not enough to residents?

There’s obviously a lot of agreement here, because, duh. McAllister came out of the gate with an interesting tack–talking up the need to rely on community expertise. This should probably play well to the residents in the ward who fancy themselves some sort of amateur urban planner.

At first, this wasn’t much of a debate, as each candidate took their turn to speak. Menard came out pretty hard against the development-centric nature of City Hall. He supports intensification but wants to see zoning regs respected. Afolabi contributed an interesting idea–a counter-variance petition. If 150 residents sign a petition against a proposed variance, it gets quashed. That’s it. No vote, no nothing.

At first, I thought this was a not-so-great idea…but I’m starting to re-consider. 150 is a really low number, so that wouldn’t fly, but I find the proposal interesting, and want to chew it over a bit more.

Carricato, aside from agreeing with the previous speakers distinguished himself by being the only one to speak up for the poor developers. He wants certainty in planning not just for residents, but also so developers don’t have to go back to council three times making minor changes.

My heart bleeds.

Chernushenko says that city council has been dominated by developer interests for decades (convenient that it didn’t start eight years ago). He goes through a list of accomplishments to beef up regulations and give some teeth to planning.

Okay, it all sounds great, but what I don’t get is why we’re still having the same problems if he’s had all this success at City Hall.

Menard takes him to task on this, saying he’s too middle of the road, like his support for Fifth + Bank. Chernushenko’s retort is that he voted for the new CDP and this is what the community association wanted (this does not jibe with his statements after the vote, and wo what about the CDP? First, it’s not a CDP; it’s a CDP-light, and anyway, if the city ignores all the zoning rules, who cares about a CDP?).

McAllister closes, subtly pushing back that it’s not what the community association wanted (and she would know), and that the CA has worked really hard to get minor improvements. I believe the implication is that they haven’t had a champion at city council.

Afolabi and Menard came off best here. McAllister was close behind. Carricato was kind of forgettable, and Chernushenko was defensive and maybe a little cynical (even though he decried cynicism).

Second Question: Should we freeze transit fares?

This was Menard’s round. It’s clear that he lives and breathes city governance, that he’s just drawn to it and has a deep understanding of it. He begins by talking about the need to bring fares down, not just the freeze them. His campaign has proposed a free zone for Bank Street. And he scores some really big points by speaking up for transit as a means to fight climate change when Chernushenko failed to, and speaking about how transit is a gender issue, after McAllister failed to (I’m not saying that because she’s a woman, but because she spoke to gender perspective in her opening statement). He had other sound points about transit’s economic benefits and about the need to spend less on new roads and more on transit.

Chernushenko spoke to the problem with taking transit downtown, and how with cheap or free parking, it’s a no-brainer. He tried to change that this past term, but couldn’t get the votes (I thought he was a bridge-builder?). He also spoke about improved service on Bank Street on the weekends (which is great, if they’re not stuck in traffic) (oh yeah, service suuuuuucks in the evenings, still).

McAllister was good on this. She wants better service and lower fares, but she didn’t really flesh much out.

Carricato spoke more about service, saying he’s not hearing people talk about fares (Chernushenko immediately countered that people are telling him that fares are an issue). Carricato then goes on to talk about the issues with Para-Transpo (damn good point!), and how we shouldn’t fix other issues before Para-Transpo (uh, we can’t do both). He did not say how he’d pay for fixing Para-Transpo…this issue will re-surface.

Afolabi thinks we should tax tourists to pay for transit. I’m not making that up.

Menard clearly took this question, on substance, on thoughtfulness and on the debate (he hit Chernushenko hard on his votes in favour of raising fares).

Chernushenko had both highs and lows. It’s really hard for a councillor to run on his record on an issue when the city is terrible on the issue (and his votes aren’t great).

McAllister and Carricato weren’t really memorable, but Afolabi was with his soak-the-tourists gambit.

Third Question: Where would you set property tax increase in the next four years, and what would you do on mounting pressure on services and infrastructures?

This is where Carricato defines himself as different than the others. He wants to freeze property taxes (even though that makes no sense). So I don’t really know how Carricato wants to pay for things like improved Para-Transpo service.

McAllister took a different angle, talking about looking at what we want to achieve (eg affordable housing and the environment), we have to figure out what this will cost and then figure out how we want to invest our money and how we do that best.

(At one point she was speaking about trees…possibly slightly off topic, but there was a train of thought and trees do count as infrastructure, so, fair game. Carricato kind of made a snide remark about what does that have to do with taxes or something–it was hard to hear him. The accompanying snicker was not endearing. Nor is it endearing when a question about taxes, and services and infrastructure is boiled down to just being about taxes.)

Afolabi wants to tax tourists, a little bit. I’m sensing a trend.

Menard calls out the 2% target as arbitrary and unsustainable. Yes! Apparently, our inflation rate in June was 2.5%. He also talks about the cost of sprawl, and we need intensification…and we need to make sure that we get infrastructure and services in Capital Ward.

OH YEAH STEPS FROM THE CANAL SHOUTOUT BY MENARD.

Chernushenko hears from people that they’d be willing to pay more for taxes for better services, but then others say they’re taxed too much, so we have to tread carefully. He’s agreed to the target of 2%, but he doesn’t want to be tied to it.

See, this is just like Fifth + Bank. He’s playing both sides. He agrees to 2%, but he won’t be tied to it. We might need to spend more for services, but maybe we shouldn’t. Like, what the hell, man, take a stance.

He’s spoken up for more parks planners. He’s proposed tax cuts. He’s looked for new sources of revenue. He’s all over the place. He’s really, desperately trying to please everyone. And despite looking for more revenue sources (like congestion pricing), “the objective isn’t really to raise more money from people…”.

Looking for more revenue sources isn’t really about raising more revenue. What. The. Hell.

Menard hits him hard about infrastructure, poverty, pot holes, infrastructure, and his allegiance to 2%.

Menard also wants a mansion tax, but Jide points out that there are very few houses at $3M in Ottawa. I don’t know. Jide might be right.

Carricato gets to close off, attacks Shawn for wanting to raise taxes and stating he wants to cut taxes. He plays The Seniors card, saying they can’t afford to stay in their homes with increased taxes. Personally, I’d like to see the data on that. But, whatever, how about tax deferrals? They can pay them when they leave the house.

Also, it’s hard to take Carricato seriously as the champion of Heron Park and the champion of poor Glebe homeowners. Noticeably, he spoke about all the areas in the ward, “the Glebe, Old Ottawa South, Old Ottawa East, etc.” I bet Heron Park is glad to be an etc.

This was mainly a battle between Menard and Chernushenko, but not really much of one. Chernushenko spoke a lot saying little, and it was not clear what he believed in or what his vision was.

McAllister has a fine perspective on taxation and services, but didn’t speak much.

Menard took this…unless you want some crazy tax-cutting, budget-destroying populism from Carricato.

Fourth Question: How do we address income disparity?

Chernushenko goes through a list of things we could and should be doing. He says that affordable housing is right up at the top of his platform…but Carricato quickly shoots back that it was at the top of his

This seems more personal for Menard, as he mentions he was raised by a single mom. He walks through the failings of the city, his talks with local organizations, and starts putting forth where we need affordable housing and how we need to put more city money to the issue. He’s got the numbers and the facts on this, mentions the solutions from Medicine Hat and talks about how addressing these issues is a positive, economically, for the city. He goes from passion to wonk and back to passion. It’s good he’s not just a wonk.

Full disclosure: I’ve known Jide Afolabi for the last ten or fifteen years…but even then, I didn’t know his whole backstory. He speaks of living in social housing, relying on foodbanks and needing social services. I don’t know this about him. I know he has an interesting story, and I’d really like to hear him talk about this more.

His proposals are not as strong as others, but his passion for this, his vision and his experience it a worthwhile addition to the debate.

McAllister has a solid line, “Talent is ubiquitous but opportunity is not.” She speaks about the women’s bureau and how this could be expanded for all disadvantaged people. She, too, talks about her background and growing up in social housing. She spoke earnestly and eloquently about this. I’ve said she doesn’t quite have the passion when she speak, and I would like to see more, but here, her subtle emotional pitch was strong.

Chernushenko closed us out saying housing is the top priority and then talking about money. It’s an important aspect, but it really lacks the punch of the other statements. It really comes off a little defeatist (even though he was somewhat fired up).

The Menard, Afolabi and McAllister parts of this topic were some of the best parts of this debate. You could tell they cared and they wanted something better for the city and its residents. McAllister and Menard are stronger on policy, but Afolabi clearly has something to contribute here.

This question goes to McAllister and Menard.

Fifth Question: Would you support a private cannabis store in Capital Ward?

Okay, generally everybody is in agreement. Pot shops are coming. We don’t want them all clustering together. We need proper zoning.

Afolabi came off as looking for the economic benefits and wants proper zoning. McAllister sees the need for consultation; Chernushenko agrees on consultation and he claims that nowhere else in the world has seen this sort of situation (wut?) then said we can learn from other jurisdictions (uh). Carricato wants us to be ready and that we have the proper zoning. Menard says we need to make sure that people have regulated access, also talks about being a school board trustee so they can’t be right beside schools (then talks up FCM’s position–and gets fired up on this part).

After some more chatter, Chernushenko turns to the need to regulate smoking (like, say, in apartment buildings). This is something that does need to be addressed.

Afolabi closes by talking about costs associated with legal weed. I guess that won’t come from the economic boon of pot shops.

So, they all kinda said the same thing. I think McAllister came off the weakest, because she didn’t really say anything other than the need for consultation.

Chernushenko comes out ahead by bringing up other related issues, and Menard is right there with him with his knowledge on what city’s will need to do.

(It’s probably not a surprise that Chernushenko does best on an issue that is upcoming, rather than one we’ve been dealing with for at least four years.)

Sixth Question: Photo Radar!

Okay, everyone pretty much agrees on photo radar (“violently agrees,” Menard, accurately, said). Each tries to distance themselves. Afolabi talks a bit in a circle about how different things work in different contexts, but settles on the need for better street design.

Chernushenko talks passionately about this issue, which is nice to see (I’d like to see that at council). He then says that he had Bank Street from the Glebe to Hopewell declared a school zone…really? In all the debates around photo radar, the city explicitly stated that arterials could not be considered school zones, so I don’t know when this happened. (Also, weird that the bridge would be called a school zone, but, hey, if it finally improves things at all, I’ll take it).

Carricato goes after Bronson Avenue (though he calls it Bronson Street). It’s a good point. Bronson fucking sucks, and basically nothing is being done to fix it.

McAllister has a strong argument about all the work the Glebe CA has done…granted, it was basically a neighbourhood survey, but the neighbourhood really really wants safe streets, so this is useful (if city council cares and it’s not clear they do).

Menard is the first one hit back. He wants to know Chernushenko has done, saying that all the talk is great, but the results aren’t there. (This is a theme of the debate and the last four years, Chernushenko’s rhetoric never matches his record.) He says he sees Chernushenko voting more with the mayor than “the progressive wing of council” (bee-tee-dub, I’m pretty sure Tobi Nussbaum’s actually a Liberal).

Chernushenko does not like that, saying it’s preposterous. Now, I was surprised, but I don’t have numbers. However, saying it’s preposterous is, in fact, preposterous. There’s a lot of cohesion on council, and little (but some) dissent. Yeah, I could see Chernushenko voting with the mayor a lot.

(Menard also hits him saying that he’s not a coalition-builder…damn, that was the time to pull out the “bridge-builder” attack!)

Chernushenko’s response is basically that he’s spoken at events and helped plan a lot of speaking events. Also, he funded a study.

Menard says he can blame council, but we’re not seeing results…”that’s why you have four credible challengers…”.

McAllister closes with good ideas for some improvements, including a bike corridor on Bank Street. YES!

McAllister is good, but she’s really not hitting back enough. She’s kind of sitting back in this whole debate. Look, this isn’t just a critique of debating skill, this is a question of leadership and assertiveness, two things that are important for a councillor.

This one goes to Menard, but it’s basically a dead heat with all the challengers, McAllister, Carricato and Afolabi. Chernushenko spoke well to this, but as everyone pointed out all the crap infrastructure in the ward, the incumbent just can’t come out of it looking strong.

Closing Statements

Afolabi: He speaks about his future vision of Ottawa–green roofs, Ottawa tree corps, counter-variance petitions, and traffic calming and road sharing. We can believe in and we can live in.

Chernushenko: Last year, he spoke about renewables. He said no one covered it because everyone thought he’d win. Now, he wants to talk about climate breakdown. This is his focus (even if affordable housing is at the top of his platform?). I don’t know why he didn’t speak more to this during the debate, if it’s so important.

Carricato: He recognizes Chernushenko’s work, but it’s time for change. He works for the speaker. What we need is a councillor to reach across to the suburbs and rural areas. We need to move forward and bring our community to the next level so we can always see it thrive (and always twirling, twirling…).

Menard: Thanks everyone. He talks about needing new ideas and backing it up with action–strong voice on affordable housing, biking, walking, poverty…sorry, I lost that. He’s worked on city hall initiatives and also brought the U-Pass to Carleton.

McAllister: Excited there’s a choice of credible candidates. She talks about the important issues and that it’s up to us to decide who to use. She talks up her work on the CA–improving developments, greenspace, parks. She’d work, listen collaborate and work for the community (sorry, again, kind of got away from me).

Conclusion

The first time I watched this debate, I thought it seemed pretty close. I noticed everybody’s foibles, their nerves and their stumbles. I felt it had been a pretty close contest, and that every candidate had done well to define themself. I thought the “winners” were fairly clear, but that there wasn’t tons of separation.

Upon second viewing, I still think that the candidates told us who they were. I also think there “winners” were clear, but what has changed is just how much separation there is between the candidates.

It is absolutely, 100% clear that Shawn Menard won that debate. You can see that he has the knowledge and experience to be a city councillor. More than that, you can see that he is passionate about city-building. He eats this stuff up. He’s not merely an activist, he seeks out information, he learns and he searches for solutions. He has the perspective that we need at city council and he has a vision for what the ward and the city should be…and that vision is something we should all embrace.

Christine McAllister had a fine showing. In many different races, she would be the definite front-runner. She has proven that she has the dedication and the work-ethic. She doesn’t have the extensive handle on the issues, and kind of dodged a question or two, but she cares and she’s competent, and that combination is sorely lacking around the council table. Her drawback–in the debate and the campaign–seems to be that she doesn’t have the robust knowledge of all issues, and I think that explains why she wasn’t really leading any of the discussions (except maybe the equality one). Again, she’d be better than about 75% of current councillors, including the Capital Ward incumbent.

Jide Afolabi was the biggest surprise. I’ll admit. I’ve kind of been discounting him. I haven’t warmed to all his “bold” ideas, and his claims of supporting Complete Streets does not match up with some of his specific proposals, but, still, he came off well. He came off fairly knowledgeable, and, yes, he’s willing to look to bold ideas, and I do kind of like that.

Anthony Carricato is the disappointing candidate in the field. I met with every challenger at the beginning of the campaign (or even before), and he seemed quite promising. But this pandering to low-tax voters, and yet still promising better services just doesn’t work.

Look, I just wrote about how Capital Ward needs a change (and that took into account the debate performance), so you probably know what to expect. I don’t think Chernushenko could properly defend his record. I don’t think he properly laid out a vision for what he wants to achieve (which is a big critique I had of him going into the debate)–I mean, that renewables policy came out of nowhere at the end of the debate, but apparently it’s really important. Further, he kept straddling the fence, trying to be a little bit of something to everyone. Worse, he explicitly misrepresented his record. I don’t know how we can possibly have any faith in him, anymore.

So, yeah, coming out of this, to me it’s a race between Menard and McAllister. They’re the two candidates I’d be happy to see win. Afolabi had a good showing, but I just don’t think I can hop aboard the Bold train.

Tomorrow night is the all candidates debate hosted by the Glebe Community Association. For me, this is pretty much the last chance for candidates to make their case. I’ve seen a lot and I know a lot about them. I’m pretty comfortable in my current assessments, so I doubt much will change. Unless something absolutely crazy happens, tomorrow night I’ll likely be writing up an endorsement for either Shawn Menard of Christine McAllister.

STAY TUNED!

Why Capital Ward Needs a Change

I’ve tried to start this post a number of times. With this newest attempt, I’m tossing 475 words I came up with last week. The thesis is simple enough, Why Capital Ward Needs a Change, but the content is overwhelming. I’d like this to be organized and structured, with a narrative flow and well-crafted prose…unfortunately, I’m not sure that can happen, at least not before election day, so let’s just dive right in.

This is a weird post to write. Four years ago, David Chernushenko was cruising to victory. A promising first-term councillor, he seemed like just about everything you’d want repping you at City Hall, but four years–four years of missteps, four years of poor decisions, four years of capitulation, four years of not moving the city or the ward forward, four years of being a hanger-on as other (newbie) urban councillors force debate and project a new vision for the city–it’s clearly time to move on. It’s clear that Capital Ward deserves to move on.

In one of the last meetings at City Hall this spring, it was reported that Chernushenko said he was tired. He was tired of the pointless fighting. He was tired of plans being scuttled and developers getting whatever they wanted.

And, you know, I get it. That would be tiring.

I latched on to this comment. Chernuchenko’s supporters didn’t really like it, but it felt so…fitting. He does seem tired. He seems spent. I don’t know what he has left to give, and, honestly, I don’t know why he wants to even try.

I believe it was at that meeting that Chernushenko voted in favour of the proposed re-development of Fifth + Bank, aka Fifth Avenue Court. It was one of a string of proposals in the ward and in the neighbourhood that sought to break zoning and all the promises the city had made to residents (personally, I thought it broke such promises less egregiously, and I’m not super opposed to the project…other than the hundred-odd parking spaces they’re making).

The community was against it, and through much protesting, they were able get the proposal seriously improved…still, it seems most residents (or most vocal residents) were still opposed. Chernushenko was opposed, too…except he wasn’t, since he voted for it. He was able to wring the promise of a partial CDP out of the vote (which is great…if the city didn’t regularly urinate all over CDPs just as they do all other zoning regs).

It was similar to Catherine McKenney getting concessions out of council for the 65-storey towers at 900 Albert, except McKenney had the courage of her convictions and still voted against the proposal.

Chernushenko didn’t like the criticism for supporting the proposal. He lashed out, at McKenney for not voting for the altered motion for 900 Albert Street, and seemingly anyone else who didn’t like his vote.

There was just so much wrapped up in this issue. It was a synedoche for his whole second term.

First off, he couldn’t stop a proposal, nor extract the desired concessions. That’s the same as 890-900 Bank Street. It’s the same as the development at Fourth and the canal (again, a proposal I didn’t hate too much, but for the cutting down of mature trees and the excess parking).

When the re-development proposal for Southminster came up, he couldn’t get concessions for that one, either. Councillor Tobi Nussbaum came to his rescue, forcing the developer to find a compromise. Yes, the Rideau-Rockliffe councillor served Capital Ward better than our own councillor.

His desire to have it both ways–he voted for it but he didn’t support it! his newsletter proclaimed–is also a repeated theme of his tenure.

He’s the bike councillor! He made a movie! So, you’d think that he’d support a new segregated bike lane in his ward when it came up. The O’Connor bikeway was supposed to connect Fifth Avenue to Wellington, but it was killed just a few blocks into the Glebe.

Why? We don’t really know. It was pretty shady.

What we do know is that the councillor supported killing half the bike lane–the half in his ward. When a local pediatrician who didn’t want his clients to have to park in front of his business instead of the side of his business, the bike councillor commended him for putting a human face on the issue.

Forget about all the kids who ride their bike around there, I guess. Forget the kids who ride their bike to the schools on O’Connor.

Worse, though, is that he doesn’t have the courage of his convictions. In the Rogers debate, he claimed himself to be a champion of the O’Connor bike lane. He touted what he has done for bike safety in the ward.

He’s built a bike lane on Bronson that connects to nothing.

He’s built a bike lane on First that is regularly used for parking.

In the last few months of this term, he’s built a bike lane on Fifth that connects to nothing and offers no protection to bicyclists, and he’s built a bike lane on Glebe that’s pretty good, but protects parked cars as it gets to Bank Street.

Oh yeah, Bank Street. It’s still a dangerous mess. We have two horrible bridges in our ward that have seen zero safety measures put in. The councillor’s suggestion for safety on the Bank Street Canal Bridge was to have cars park, because nothing says safety like adding in a dooring zone.

Nothing has been done at Bank and Riverside where Meg Dussault was brutally killed by a truck driver.

Oh wait, yes, something was done. Her ghost bike was removed, and Chernushenko supported that, even going on radio to scold people for grieving wrong.

Then there’s Chernushenko the environmental champion. The environment committee has achieved very little. They’ve changed their name. They’ve set some lofty targets with no means achieving them. They’ve put dog crap and plastic bags in the green bin.

They haven’t expanded the green bin program to include multi-home residences or commercial enterprises. They haven’t done anything to limit the amount of waste people can throw out.

He has, however, worn a big smile on his face as he cut the ribbon on a new parking garage–a parking garage that was unnecessary, is often 90% empty and takes up prime land that could be employed for something useful.

Parking is something he has consistently championed–the parking garage, Fifth + Bank, Fourth and the canal, all have excessive amounts of parking. And even then, we’re not seeing Bank Street opened up. We’re not seeing bike lanes and wider sidewalks even talked about.

We’ve added more and more parking and all that achieves is attracting more and more cars to the ward. Yes, I know people see all these cars and figure that we need to have more parking, but study after study shows that parking brings in more traffic. We need a city councillor who follows the evidence, offering leadership, not limply following car-centric planning offering hollow platitudes about taking the bus and being environmentally conscious.

(Hey, when a bus is stuck on a busy Bank Street, constantly changing lanes around parked cars, your transit service will be awful…and so more people will drive. Funny that.)

So much of the problems we have in this ward, though, aren’t just about what he’s done, but about what he hasn’t done.

Just look at the Immaculata Field disaster. Okay, fine, city officials made a mistake in January saying that the school could do whatever they want with the field…but the issue was discovered in February and there was no groundbreaking until May.

That battle we saw at City Hall back in the summer, that would have been a helluva lot easier to tackle if it’d been brought to council’s attention before the Footy Sevens spent millions on the field.

At least two candidates–Jide Afolabi and Shawn Menard–have championed that cause…and it was only after the other candidates started raising hell that the councillor started making noise. The residents were making noise for months, but they needed the pressure of an election campaign to get the attention of their elected representative.

And look at the issue with the old trees in Old Ottawa East. They were going to be torn down until a rival candidate brought the issue to the media. Other candidates were quick to jump on the issue, to their credit, but Chernushenko was much slower to respond.

Even something as simple as the Moving Surfaces light installation on the hill at Lansdowne has been an issue. It was out of commission for over a year, but it wasn’t until a (ahem) local citizen brought it up to all the other candidates that something actually happened.

This is a trend. Other councillors and other candidates are getting things done that Chernushenko alone cannot. That’s not what we need or deserve. It’s not what any ward deserves.

(Or you could look at the issue of derelict buildings, especially the West Coast Video building in Old Ottawa South. Nothing has been done about that in the past eight years. Once again, one candidate–Shawn Menard–is championing the issue. But, damn, where’s our councillor been?)

If you watch the Rogers debate, you’ll see an incumbent running scared. He’s actually running away from his record, twisting his past votes to make his record appear more palatable than it is. He’s got some help, too.

Jim Watson has been subtly going to bat for Chernushenko this campaign season. He’s referred to him as “his friend” at the Pride Block Party, and commended him for work he’s done on issues like Moving Surfaces. In addition, he’s taking aim at Chernushenko’s only rival from Old Ottawa South (Chernushenko’s neighbourhood). With Chernushenko, he has a generally compliant, go-along-to-get-along sort of councillor. We don’t get the fire or vision or principles of a McKenney, Nussbaum, Lieper, Deans or Wilkinson.

The mayor wants Chernushenko back, and that is pretty damning.

And, you know, it goes back to the issue of vision. What is his vision for the ward or the city? I know he’s got a bunch of new election-year projects on the go, but what does he want? He’s the bike councillor, but he doesn’t champion safe bike infrastructure. He’s the former Green Party environmentalist, but he backs driving and low-grade compost.

Whatever vision he might have had eight years ago, it’s gone, and at the root of it is what was said back in the spring–he’s tired. His platform is tired. His record is tired. His vision–whatever remnants still exist–is tired.

It’s time for something new. It’s time for some energy. It’s time for Capital Ward to wake up.

Rideau-Vanier Endorsement

Oof. This race is a slog. I’m going to say it right up front: I’m not too enamoured with any of these candidates. Four years ago, Mathieu Fleury was an underwhelming incumbent. He was fine, but that was about it. He was challenged by two quality candidates, but held on. At times during his second term, he seemed like he was really turning into a solid civic leader. There were some questionable decisions, and his allegiance to the mayor got him badly, badly burned, but he seemed to be learning.

But, then there was Rideau Street, and all the surrounding issues. There’s still been no solution to the trucks downtown (FYI, the solution is banning them). Then there was the Salvation Army fiasco, and the question of what he knew and when (there have been a couple of instances in which Fleury has claimed ignorance over an issue, but was then proven to have had prior knowledge).

But, what are the options? I know basically nothing about Salar Changiz. Matt Lowe aped Donald Trump in the Rogers debate. Thierry Harris has been uninspiring–he seems focused explicitly on Vanier, and doesn’t offer a significantly better vision for the ward or the city.

Maybe Catherine Fortin LeFaivre will run again 2022.

So, yeah, what do we do with this?

Endorsement: Thierry Harris

This is really an anti-Mathieu Flery endorsement, to be clear, and I really went back-and-forth between choosing Fleury and choosing not-Fleury. Watching the Rogers debate, I’d say Fleury came out strongest, but not by much. His devotion to a truck tunnel downtown is folly, but not really a disqualifying position (especially no other candidate is willing to say what needs to happen–ban the trucks–they just bicker about bridges, or whatever).

So for me, this is close enough that I’m making this decision on one, singular issue: Safe Injection Sites.

Mathieu Fleury supports SIS, as does Thierry Harris. But when asked by CBC if they would support funding SIS if the province backed out, Fleury said, “no,” and Harris said, “yes”.

Fleury responded saying that, no, the city shouldn’t pay for it, because healthcare is a provincial issue. And, you know, he’s right. The province should be paying for this…but look at Queen’s Park. They’ve already halted SIS. Do you think we’re getting reasoned, compassionate government any time soon?

The guy dying from an overdose, the family burying their son, they don’t give a shit about jurisdiction.

People are dying and SIS saves lives. We know this. We’ve already seen it in this city. If the province isn’t willing to live up to their responsibility, then it’s up to us to step up and pay for SIS.

Anything less is just callous bean-counting.

Knoxdale-Merivale Endorsement

This race has been pretty under-the-radar for me. I’ve checked out most of the candidates, but no one’s really grabbed me, and no one’s really forcing me to pay attention to them. I guess this kind of makes sense. Keith Egli, despite being Transportation Chair, is a pretty under-the-radar councillor. He really doesn’t speak too much, when he does it’s mostly benign and moderately sensible. The only real highlight I can think of about Egli is when he started schooling council on skateboarding lingo.

Endorsement: Keith Egli

I actually felt kind of bad for Egli during the Rogers debate. It was mostly an airing of grievances. A couple of candidates had a couple of okay ideas. One candidate was quite earnest, but that sincerity was matched only by his nerves (and he didn’t quite have a full grasp of the issues). One candidate was just there to interrupt and complain about stuff.

Most candidates made some sort of proposal to at least a couple of issues. They tended to contradict themselves a lot (Fewer taxes! More services!), and that complainer guy repeatedly interrupted and took nasty shots at Egli. Egli did well to hold things together and present a coherent defense of his record.

So Keith Egli will probably sail through, under-the-radar, serve a few more years, and retire in like 2034 or something, with most of us not even realizing he had been mayor for the final few terms of his public life.

Cumberland Endorsement

A couple of weeks back, I started watching the Cumberland Ward debate. I’m actually going to try to watch every debate this year, even for the races that seem like no contests. In this case, the incumbent Stephen Blais is facing off against an earnest university student and someone who didn’t show up for the debate.

I had to turn the debate off once they started talking about the Iraq War. Yes. Seriously. I’m still counting it towards my “Debates Watched” tally, though.

Endorsement: Weeping

Stephen Blais is going to win. For the second election in a row, he’ll have no formidable challenger. My understanding is that he’s generally responsive to on-the-ground ward issues. He makes some pretty bad decisions for the city, though, and occasionally the ward. He’s the transit chair, yet he doesn’t seem to like transit. Go figure.

So on October 22, grab a bottle, have a drink, and shed a few tears at the prospect of for more years of malevolent mediocrity (at best).

Orleans Ward Non-Debate

Mercifully, with 15 candidates and two non-candidates, Rogers TV isn’t doing a proper debate for Orleans. Each candidate is going to get three minutes to give a statement, and that’s it. In a way, it sucks, because you can’t really hear them highlight their differences or demonstrate how their views are superior to others. It kind of feels useless.

But in another way, it doesn’t suck because, fuck, a 17-person debate? No thanks. So I’ll just re-cap each one (in order).

Rick Bedard

He didn’t really say very much. He likes communication, Bob Monette and learning from our mistakes for LRT Phase 2. He’ll get his hands dirty and the children are our future. He wants some parks and he likes organized activities. He is all about minor sports and volunteering in minor sports and making sure ice is good for minor sports. He’ll be your voice. He’ll leave no one behind. He will absolutely smother you in platitudes and cliches.

Toby Bossert

He spent a lot of time at first going over his background and how he fell in love with Orleans. He wants better transit–fixing routes, creating better routes, more frequent buses. He also want St. Joseph Blvd repaved and re-surfaced (that’s a big deal). He wants to implement ideas from the BIA. He’s going to listen to residents and he’s going to use his customer service skills. Then an interesting promise: he’s going to learn french by the end of his first term; his skills aren’t very good right now. He also says that residents deserve service in both languages (this is all commendable, but I don’t know if he can give them what he says they deserve, and if he can’t, then he probably shouldn’t be running, right?).

Mireille Brownhill

She begins by going over her background, and the skills it gives her for city council (communication, collaboration). Mentioning making Orleans sustainable and livable is a nice start. She moves on to some of the issues she likes: safe streets, St. Joseph rejuvenation, parks and stuff…and then safety, transit efficiency and waste management. She speaks of a cohesive and holistic vision for the city–CDPs, affordable transit and some other good stuff…

…but she spoke of “responsible development” around LRT stations, development that fits with the area. I’m not exactly sure what she means. LRT needs density. It needs lots of people. Is this code for scaling down transit-oriented development?

I’d been intrigued by her candidacy. Her statement was fine…but that “responsible development” part…I just…

Guy Desroches

He’s serving on the advisory accessibility committee (I may have flubbed the exact title). Accessibility is definitely an issue he’s passionate about, and this is a good perspective to have on council. He talks up his business experience, bilingualism and knowledge of how city council works. He closes out his statement with his background and re-inforcing his status as the candidate with experience at City Hall.

It was a fine statement, but it didn’t say a whole lot. I’d keep him in the race, but this didn’t make him standout.

Dina Epale

Epale speaks of his bilingualism and his commitment to the community. Interestingly, he starts talking up his experience working with all three levels of government, including working as part of a delegation with the mayor to speak with provincial governments.

Okay, I don’t know what he’s actually interested in doing (he likes LRT, but didn’t expand), so he may have the background, but I have no idea if he has the vision or ideas for city councillor.

Doug Feltmate

He’s not running anymore, so I’m going to skip him…there a 17 candidates, ok!?

Jarrod Goldsmith

Oh the hat. Nice hat. Goldsmith has more energy and animation than anyone, so far. He starts with an actual statement before actually introducing himself, I like that. He’s a musician and anthropologist. He has no experience with government, so he’s going to be learning everyday, taking notes and holding city staff accountable.

“This is not a retirement hobby for me. This is a full-time career.”

Is that a jab at some of the older candidates? (Also, I’m not sure declaring himself a career politician is exactly what he meant.)

He likes the arts and culture in his community. He wants people to treat their passion as a viable career. Okay…we’ll have to get a “how” though.

He likes LRT, and seems to want to re-balance transit modes away from total car dominance. He wants to re-juvenate St. Joe’s, and then there’s crime, he doesn’t like it. Also he wants more collaboration between local communities.

Ooh, a tagline: “So go for Goldsmith, because I’m going for you.” I actually kind of like this.

He may have no experience and be a complete neophyte, but I don’t hate him. He’s certainly stood out so far (though I don’t know that his schtick will play with a majority of voters…though, hey, it might only take 7% to win!

Miranda Gray

She does not have a schtick.

She loves Orleans. Everything about it. She likes the work Bob Monette did. She wants to keep bringing businesses and jobs to Orleans. She likes transit, but admits that it’ll take time for LRT to be complete…so she wants to focus on traffic mitigation.

(I’m not really sure what she means here–transit is the best means for traffic mitigation. Does she means more roads? Congestion pricing? Lower bus fares? Or is it more of a “we just have to do something” statement?)

She likes the parks and trees in her wards, and wants to maintain them. That’s cool. I like that.

All right, we’re getting into development. We need affordable housing around transit hubs, and we need to understand that LRT will change how development happens…but doesn’t have many details about that (other than affordable housing…which is big, granted).

Speaking about train transit, she says, “We’re lucky to be the first, but we won’t be the last community to get it…,” uh…what? Many communities are getting LRT before Orleans. Those other areas do count as communities, right?

She closes off talking about her work with the Federation for Citizens Associations, so hopefully she does have a decent handle on city issues.

Geoffrey Nicholas Griplas

He starts by rapping. Then stops. Come on, man.

He wants more diversity–he’s been a business man, he’s been homeless and a criminal. So, yeah, more diverse than most city councillors.

He was brainwashed to perform an act of terrorism. He’s come around, and he’s found his purpose: he makes people’s day.

Here’s what he’s about: senior care, landlord licensing, affordable housing, reefer madness. He’s “got a P-H-D in la dee da dee da”. Again, come on, man, the better line would be, “I’ve got a P-H-D in T-H-C.”

He gets into questions of accountability, transparency, smart development… he’s swinging back and forth between the outlandish and the serious.

Catherine Kitts

She loves Orleans and she was the editor of the Orleans Star newspaper. That’s not a bad background, especially in this crop, so far. She speaking about knowledge jobs in the east end and playing to the public servant crowd.

She wants smart development around LRT: sound barriers, pedestrian access and ensuring new and existing routes work in conjunction with LRT.

Then there’s neighbourhood watch, more snow removal, St. Joe’s, traffic calming and fixing up Petrie Island.

She closes out with an appeal for more women on city council (yes!) and more youth on city council (sure, I guess?).

All in all, not bad. (I was about to write, “fine”, but I’ve written that a few times, and she was a bit better than the other “fine”s.)

Shannon Kramer

She starts off with an appeal to walkability, playing up the benefits to property values. She wants to transform Orleans into a walkable ward. She wants to offer options, then quickly offer the caveat that she’s not trying to get rid of cars (she knows her audience), she just wants choice.

Moving on to LRT…she wants stations sealed off from the elements, heated and cooled. They need pedestrian and bike access, and safe drop-off areas. She points out that a lot of LRT stations are currently being built exposed to the weather. This is a very good point.

She wants more cops.

She has a two-part plan for affordable housing: (1) inclusionary zoning; (2) support development of income properties, allowing small rental apartments for more rentals and second incomes, and we’ll spread them out.

She wants diversity working at City Hall.

Yeah, pretty good. She’s quite young and she supports walkability, so I doubt she has a chance out there, but this was one of the more impressive presentations.

Matthew Luloff

He grew up in Orleans. He joined the armed forces and went to Afghanistan. Then he worked on the Hill, and now he wants to serve people in Orleans.

He’s a mental health advocate and an advocate for the arts. He has a three-part plan: (1) build community; (2) build the economy; and (3) build support for those who serve Canadians. (Yeah, I remember this from his website. It wasn’t well thought out, and it prioritized people working in the public sector over those working in the private sector…which is actually kind of a weird stance for a conservative.)

Community–infrastructure, widen the 174 and also improve LRT…god, yeah, this is why we don’t really need to listen to his ideas. They’re poorly thought-out and self-contradictory.

Economy–low taxes, even though we’re doing a ton of spending.

Support–lots of mental health service for first responders, soldiers and public servants. FUCK YOU, PRIVATE SECTOR WORKERS, SUFFER!

Look, I’d say this guy would be a disaster at City Hall, but that’s not quite right. His platform would be a disaster, but there’s little chance it would really get enacted. Still, don’t vote for him.

Qamar Massod

It’s the guy from Chopped! Seriously, how is this not part of his pitch?

He wants to amalgamate Hydro One and Hydro Ottawa.

Next, have a watchful eye on Phase 2 of LRT. We need sound barriers.

Zero increase in taxes! But we want to spend money! So we’ll have to cut down!

He supports MIFO

We’ve forgotten St. Joe’s, time to rejuvenate. And we’re going to look after roads, so we’re going to cut down on other things. We need carpooling on the 174, at least until LRT opens.

I mean, it could be worse, he could be Luloff, but, yeah, I’m not loving his vision.

Kevin Tetrault

He wants to expand post-secondary education in Orleans. He has a four-step plan. It’s not bad. Use it to build up Trim Road. Build up Petrie Island (I don’t really get how that works for education), next is cleaning up the river. The third pillar is St. Joe’s.

Wait, are his pillars actually about education? Maybe I misunderstood?

PIllar four, connect the various communities, including bike lanes, Petrie Island, connecting LRT.

You know, this is ok. Though he says it’s exciting, but he doesn’t actually sound excited. I’ll chalk that up to nerves.

(I went back to re-listen, he says that he wants to improve the economy and stuff, and he says he’ll do that by improving post-secondary education, and that’s do-able with a four-pillar plan…and I guess he sort of ties the first two pillars, maybe the other two, as well, to post-secondary education…but it’s a weird formulation to wedge it all under education.)

Don Yetman

Don! Yeah! I kind of love his odd, old-school website, so I want to hear what he has to say? (Also wondering if Jarrod Goldsmith was taking a jab at Don with the “retirement” comment.)

He’s a newfie! And, yes, he’s retired. He tells us this twice.

Okay, he’s a former business man, in logistics. He’s done a lot volunteering. He’s been in project management (or something) work. His background seems decent, I guess. A bit of a mix.

Platform includes: maintaining level of response to constituents that Monette had. He wants St. Joe’s more bike- and ped-friendly. We can do long-term and short-term stuff. Yeah! Don! Yeah!

Then it’s on to crime and LRT. He’s fine on these, but not particularity imaginary.

Finally, he wants better zoning plans that are better communicated.

That was pretty good. Not stellar, but decent.

That’s it

And with that, oof, we’re done.

Okay, so this was not the dynamic race you’d hope when there’s no incumbent. Of course, the necessary format didn’t really allow for people to really demonstrate the contrasts between them and their opponents. There is pretty much no way you could make an informed decision based on this debate, alone.

But who cares about informed decisions!? (Kidding, sort of…)

Judging just by this debate, here’s how I’d classify the candidates. There are probably three classifications I’d have for candidates who I’m not prepared to disqualify:

Inexperienced but Interesting

There are a number of younger (or seemingly younger…or younger acting?) candidates. They projected the most vibrancy and, actually, the most visionary-ness. (Look, it’s late; I’m making up words.) I don’t mean this to sound all cranky-old-man, and I don’t think I should, because though I’m acknowledging age/experience, I’m looking past it (sorta).

So this category includes (in no particular order): Catherine Kitts, Jarrod Goldsmith, Shannon Kramer and Kevin Tetrault. In this group, Goldsmith seems the most out of his depth..but, hey!, he admitted that, and that’s almost kinda a point in his favour.

Grounded, Thoughtful but…yeah…

These are probably the candidates I should be considering the frontrunners (for my endorsement; I don’t assume the voters will demonstrate similar preferences), but I just couldn’t get enthused about. Maybe it was the format or nerves or overthinking it, but they just weren’t on in the debate. I wasn’t really getting the ideas or even as much of the passion.

This category would be: Miranda GrayMireille BrownhillGuy Desroches (though I wouldn’t include him in the “lack of passion” description) and Dina Epale…and, honestly, I’m being generous throwing Epale in there (and if I were to be really generous, I’d include Rick Bedard and Toby Bossert).

Going into the non-debate, I had thought one of these candidates would have stood out for me as the best choice, but, really, none of them did. I might be choosing interesting over experience in this race.

Don! Yeah!

This category consists of: Don Yetman.

Seriously, check out his website. It’s fun. In some ways, he wasn’t as polished as the other “grown ups” (honestly, I’m using that term more to disparage the “grown ups” rather than the younger challengers), but he also seemed more interested, and he offered up more of a vision. I really think people should seriously consider him.

Sell! Sell! Sell!

Okay, we’ve talked about who’s in the running, now let’s talk about those who you shouldn’t–absolutely shouldn’t–consider voting for:

Matthew Luloff: His platform doesn’t make sense. It’s fiscally irresponsible, despite how he fancies himself. And I don’t like candidates that try to elevate some residents over others.

Qamar Masood: You’re Chopped! (Haha, get it? Okay, I might be a little punchy right now…I blame the endless list of candidates). Like Luloff, he doesn’t have a coherent platform. Unlike Luloff, it’s not totally wacky and insulting. Don’t vote for him…but definitely vote for him over Luloff.

Geoffrey Nicholas Griplas: I don’t really know his story, but it sure sounds like he’s been through a lot. I love redemption stories, and if he really can find meaning in making people happy, then that’s fantastic. I’m just not prepared to put him on council.

All right, so that’s it. I’m done here. At some point, I may review my earlier post about Orleans Ward and try to figure out an actual endorsement. We’ll see.s

Stittsville Endorsement

Out in the ‘Ville*, three-term councillor Shad Qadri is taking on prominent community person Glen Gower. Qadri has seemed like a weak councillor for a while, and there has definitely been some growing unrest in the ‘Ville for the past few years. The only thing that’s maybe surprising about this campaign is that there’s only one challenger. Usually, a vulnerable incumbent will have a host people vying to knock him off (see: Capital Ward).

I watched the Rogers debate a few weeks ago (and live-tweeted it). Gower was able to match Qadri’s knowledge of city council goings-on (which is unusual; incumbents have a massive advantage there), and certainly came off stronger.

Endorsement: Glen Gower

This really wasn’t difficult. The amount that Glen Gower has been able to do simply as a community volunteer–from traffic calming to heritage preservation to ward communications–is remarkable. This is a case where the challenger has practically acted like a councillor for the past few years.

His record in the community is impressive, but that’s not the only reason I’m endorsing him. He has a sound understanding–and a commendable vision–of what both the ‘Ville and the city needs. He’ll very much be a suburban representative, but he understands city life, and he gets how urbanism can integrate with suburbanism, making outer communities more sustainable and more livable, without trying to turn them into New Centretown.

Perhaps the most subtle commendation of Gower is the fact that no one else chose to run. It’s my understanding that there was a lot of grassroots supporters urging him to take this on. Perhaps it’s not a crowded field because people know Gower is their best chance at improving the ‘Ville.

The incumbent isn’t an innocent victim here. He hasn’t been a great councillor for the ‘Ville or the city. He hasn’t always been the best at communicating, and it’s hard to think of too many initiatives he’s really spear-headed. Worse, as the chair of the Board of Health, he pushed back hard against Overdose Prevention Ottawa, ignoring all the evidence that safe injection sites save lives and help people seek treatment. And to just add insult to every-friggin’-thing, this past week he decided to claim the role of overdose prevention champion. That was cynical as hell, and really, truly gross.

So after serving and leading this community for years, after working diligently to make the ‘Ville better, after so much volunteering, so much advocacy, so much community-mindedness, it’s time for residents to do the right thing, and make Glen Gower, officially, the councillor for Stittsville.

*Pretty sure no one calls it “the ‘Ville”, BUT THEY SHOULD.