[If you started reading this the other day, you’ll want to just scroll down to the endorsement.]
I’m starting to write this, and I’m still not sure who I’m going to pick, so let’s just get to the basics first.
This is a race Jean Cloutier deserves to lose. He hasn’t been a great candidate for the ward and he’s been a pretty terrible candidate for the city. Going into election season, I’d assumed that he had little chance of winning, but as three or four quality candidates announced, I started to wonder if he’d squeak by with the others splitting the anti-Cloutier vote. I still think Cloutier will lose, but I think he now has a chance.
(Now watch him garner over 50% of the vote just to prove me an idiot.)
Raylene Lang-Dion was the first challenger to go public–or, at least, to get a lot of attention (whether or not she was the first to actually declare her intentions to run). She came out strong against the situation at Heron Gate and really upped her public profile. Back in March, I figured this was her race for the taking, impressive as she was.
Later, Kevin Kit and John Redins emerged in the race (again, don’t know he declared first). Kit is an established community activist having founded (I think) and led a local community association, helping to shape a problematic development in the community. Redins ran four years ago, and is an active…uh…activist on a number of issues. He’s strong on affordable housing and transit, and has led the public outcry against deficiencies in Para Transpo service.
Mike McHarg rounds out our field. He’s running on a soda beverage tax (which he failed to mention at the Rogers debate when speaking about tax levels), and wants to fight obesity. He’s earnest and all, but he’s not really in contention.
Finally, there’s Clinton Cowan. He entered the race right at the end, and that would seem to put him at a disadvantage, but with an established record of community service, a strong vision for the ward and city, and the experience of running four years ago, he immediately became a worthy challenger.
Right, so Cloutier should be out the door. From his ineffectiveness to the Cloutier tax and finally to having a swanky developer fundraiser planned (and then cancelled) on his behalf, he’s just not the councillor we should want.
For me, Cowan, Lang-Dion and Kit have all put out solid platforms and run good campaigns, and I think any of them would be a fine addition to city council. There’s a lot of overlap between them (as you might expect), but there are a few differences here and there. It’s never anything tremendously substantial, just little answers here and there in the debate, in surveys or on the podcast.
Four years ago, I thought Cowan was easily the best choice (and I bet a few people in Alta Vista are having some buyers remorse). When he entered this year, I figured I’d probably gravitate towards him…and I sort of have. But my worry was that I would be inclined to choose him because he would have been my choice last time.
(Also, full disclosure, I knew Cowan in passing in high school. We had some mutual friends and our bands played in some of the same talent shows. But this isn’t really going to sway me, one way or the other.)
You know what, I still don’t know. Stay tuned…
…aaaaaannnnnnnd, we’re back.
I’ve been thinking about this race a lot…really too much considering it’s not even my ward. And I’ve been thinking about this post I wrote earlier in the year, in which I declared that if two (or more) candidates were equally (or nearly equally) good, I’d support the woman. This isn’t about voting for someone because they’re a woman (though representation is important!); it’s really about acknowledging that women tend to be judged harsher, and so if I think two candidates are equal, there’s a decent chance that the woman is actually the stronger candidate.
Now, I don’t think I’m discounting Lang-Dion’s candidacy, but I would think that, wouldn’t I?
The one sticking point I have is the issue of street design and street safety. This is a weak spot for Lang-Dion. She wasn’t great on the issue of bike lane on Kilborn, and there’s been a lot of “yes, but…” answers when it comes to Complete Streets and active transportation. And that’s not an issue of bias. It’s stuff she’s clearly stated.
How could I ask the residents of Alta Vista to support a candidate who doesn’t full-throatedly support livability–an issue I demand of my own councillor.
Basically, either way, I’m a hypocrite. The question seems to come down to, which candidate would I most regret not endorsing?
Endorsement: Raylene Lang-Dion
The person I first thought would get my support, way back before the election officially began, dimmed a bit in my eye, but has come back around to be my choice.
Let’s talk about her strengths. She understands the issues that are facing the city. She has worked diligently in this campaign and, seemingly, throughout her career, so I expect she’d work hard for residents. She’s smart and personable. She seems to have both the strength and the empathy to be the type of councillor we want.
Where she’s lacking–livability, bike lanes, Complete Streets–I think she can improve, and I think she will. I don’t think she’s that far from the ideal position on the issue, so I imagine she will generally be a reliable advocate for such things. I mean, I’m kind of banking on it, otherwise I couldn’t make this endorsement.
Honourable Mention: Clinton Cowan
This one really was a coin-flip decision. I thought Cowan was the best choice last time, by a wide margin, and I think he might be the best choice this time… but we’re getting right down to the finest of margins between him and Lang-Dion. If you read this post and decide to vote Cowan, hey, I get that, I couldn’t fault you for it. If he were to win, I’d be quite happy. Hell, it’s possible when push comes to shove on election night, I’ll change my mind and root for him.
But for now, my choice is Lang-Dion.