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.