So I finally got around to watching the Kanata North debate, last night. I hadn’t been avoiding it, far from it. It’s an interesting race with multiple strong candidates vying for the seat left open with the departure of Marianne Wilkinson. I wanted to make sure I was in the mood to pay close attention to really assess the candidates.
Of course, I’d already done some background work on this. They were on the podcast a while back, and I’ve gone through their websites and checked out their social media postings. Still, I didn’t feel I had a full grasp on who each one was as a candidate, so I was looking forward to the debate.
And it didn’t disappoint…or, well, maybe it did.
All four candidates who attended came off strong. They’d done their homework (for the most part), and I wouldn’t say there was any petty bickering. There’s a lot of overlap among their positions, but there’s enough of a difference to pick and choose. So a good debate, but no real fireworks.
The highlight of the debate was the discussion pertaining to safe injection sites. Each candidate treated the issue thoughtfully and acknowledged that overdoses and drug addiction are serious issues…and that SIS is a key way we have to address these issues (even Matt Muirhead–who started to veer into Reefer Madness territory talking about pot shops–was really strong on this topic.
Endorsement: Jenna Sudds
Going into the debate, I was leaning towards Sudds, but I was a little wary. I like her background and a lot of the community work she has done. Further, I think her platform and her thought process when approaching city issues is a little stronger than her main rival, David Gourlay.
(An interesting difference came up during the discussion of allowing pot shops–Sudds was for it, but Gourlay was hesitant, suggesting that we wait and see how it works for other municipalities first, rather than rushing in. Okay, I get the desire to be cautious, but maintaining the status quo isn’t really the right balance to strike. It’s not a question of pot shops or no one selling weed in the city; it’s a question of pot shops or people dealing illegally or pseudo-legally. This is a needle that can’t really be threaded.)
The biggest drawback to Sudds is that she doesn’t live in the ward. This is something that Gourlay tried to make hay out of earlier in the campaign, but has seemed to back off from when his attacks were rather ugly and ham-fisted. He still made comments about living in and raising a family in the ward but he took no petty shots at Sudds (unlike what we’ve seen in other debates).
Personally, I don’t think living outside the ward should be disqualifying for voters…but I think you better have a damned good reason for running outside your ward. And to me, the question often comes down to living, not just residing. Do you live your life in the ward? Do you, maybe, have a business in the ward? Or your kids go to school in the ward? Maybe you live a block or two outside the ward, but it’s where you do your shopping and volunteering; or maybe it’s where you go to church or play in a rec softball league. If you can demonstrate a reason for you to be running in the ward (aside from well, there’s a strong incumbent where I live), I’m willing to give you a pass.
I believe this is the case for Sudds. She’s been part of the Kanata North BIA and other community groups, and my understanding is that her kids go to school in the ward. I think her commitment to the community is established, so if I were there, I’d be comfortable voting for her even though she lives outside the ward. (But I understand if others would prefer a resident of the ward.)
This is a strong field, but I found that each of the other three candidates had sufficiently significant flaws, that Sudds is definitely the strongest candidate.