Coming into 2018, Michael Qaqish was one of those councillors who really deserved a strong challenge…hell, he’s one of the councillors who probably deserved to lose his seat at the council table. He’s work for his ward has been middling, at best; he’s provided no significant benefit to the city, as a whole; and then there was the whole embarrassing story about how he spent his ward budget (not to mention the time he had a novelty cheque created to celebrate not taking his car allowance).
Look, I’m not going to say this was an Anyone-But-Qaqish race, but it wasn’t completely not an Anyone-But-Qaqish race.
At first, it seemed like we might not have much of a race. No one stepped up and grabbed the challenger spotlight, right away, and I started to wonder if Qaqish might get let off the hook.
But then at the last minute, Carol Anne Meehan–a beloved media personality with more name-recognition than the incumbent–decided to throw in. Suddenly, the race got interesting.
Now, to be fair, it’s not a two-person race. Zaff Ansari, Irene Mei and Harprett Singh are the other candidates vying for the job. Singh and Ansari–and Singh, especially–shouldn’t be automatically discarded. (I don’t think Irene Mei has much of a shot; she came off as earnest but not quite up to the challenge in the Rogers debate.)
So, although I wasn’t going to automatically dismiss the incumbent, with at least three strong challengers, it seemed like it shouldn’t be too difficult to select someone new…and it wasn’t; it was just a matter of who.
Endorsement: Zaff Ansari
Going into the debate, I was leaning towards Singh. He seemed like a worthy challenger, running a good race, and it seemed like he’d be a reliable councillor if chosen.
I haven’t been as much of a fan of Carol Anne Meehan during the campaign. Her stance on traffic congestion and pot shops is not great. Worse, I thought some of her positions demonstrated a lack of understanding of city issues, and an reticence to learn. Further, in her response to the Citizen’s survey, she didn’t answer the questions about safe injection sites, whereas Sing and Ansari both support them, and support funding them if our cruel and incompetent provincial government decides to cut funding.
That being said, she did reasonably well in the debate, and I would probably choose her over Michael Qaqish.
(As you may be guessing, this decision came about much by process of elimination.)
Singh has a lot of good ideas, and is clearly a smart, hardworking candidate. However, he’s a bit of a unicorn candidate, too. In his closing remarks of the debate, he spoke of the need to keep taxes in check…then he talked about the city building an employment hub and economic incubator, and then about the need for a new LRT loop in the area. And of course there’s always issues with pot holes, park and maintenance and the “need” for road widenings. I don’t care how many efficiencies you think you can find; you’re going to need a lot more money for your wishlist.
Zaff Ansari never stood out to me. He didn’t take control of the debate, and he doesn’t seem to have a Big Idea he was pushing. However, he was steady. He doesn’t seem to hold any egregiously bad positions. He seems reliable, and he seems like he’d be a decent decision-maker at City Hall.
And in this race, I didn’t need to be blown away. I just needed someone I felt I could trust as a decision-maker, and someone who possesses the thoughtfulness and a certain degree of wisdom for the role. For Gloucester-South Nepean, that’s Zaff Ansari.