With councillor Mark Taylor adhering to his two-term pledge, Bay Ward is wide-open. Though it’s a five-person race, this is really a competition between candidates, Don Dransfield and Theresa Kavanagh–but in terms of their likelihood of getting elected and because they’re the two strongest candidates (with a nod to Erica Dath, who’d be my third choice in this ward).
Dransfield isn’t a newcomer to politics. He’s run for the Liberals at other levels of government and is married to Anita Vandenbold, the local Liberal MP (who may have broken some ethics rules when she used her position as part of campaigning for her husband).
Interestingly, Kavanagh also has a noteworthy spouse–Alex Cullen, a former MPP and city councillor, who lost to Taylor four years ago. But Kavanagh shouldn’t be defined by her spouse. She’s active in her community and has been serving as School Board Trustee up until this election (okay, I think she’s technically still the trustee, but that’ll change). Kavanagh has also run federally for the NDP.
So it’s sort of an interesting proxy war between the Liberals and the NDP, as well as some casual observers (Mayor Watson–who has an ongoing feud with Alex Cullen–briefly used his social media presence to boost Dransfield’s profile.)
But screw all of that. These are two good candidates running two good campaigns. Keep your petty sniping to yourself.
Endorsement: Theresa Kavanagh
As I said, these are two quality candidates, Kavanagh and Dransfield, but Kavanagh comes out slightly ahead. She has a platform that addresses both the ward and city issues better than Dransfield’s. She has a history of working on social issues to better her community, and she seems to have a very strong handle on city governance.
Just as importantly, she seems to have the temperament that we could use at the council table. At one point in the Rogers debate, Dransfield stumbled. He seemed to lose his train of thought, attempted to speak again, but couldn’t. It was kind of odd, and it was very awkward, to say the least. Once it became absolutely clear that Dransfield wasn’t able to get back on track, Kavanagh jumped in.
Now, I don’t bring this up as a shot at Dransfield; these things can happen, but the way Kavanagh interjected was noteworthy. She picked up on Dransfield’s thought, agreed that it was worthwhile and then expanded a bit. She didn’t pounce. She didn’t ignore him. She actually kind of threw him a lifejacket.
I’ve seen this on social media, too. Where other politicians (or just jerks like me on Twitter) might get testy or might try to jump on some perceived error by an opponent, she’s gracious and she’s thoughtful.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t her playing into a stereotypical female role that some chauvinist would have her adopt. She’s not a pushover, and she’s not timid. She’s an activist and she seems willing to fight for her community and her city…she’s just not going to lose sight of her or “an opponent’s” humanity.
Your councillor needs to fight for you, but they also need to get along with their fellow councillors. They need to want the best for their ward, but they also need to show understanding and empathy for residents in other wards who have different concerns. This is the sort of disposition I’ve gleaned from what I’ve seen of Kavanagh, and it just reinforces that she’s the right candidate for Bay Ward.