Bay Ward Endorsement

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.

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A ward by any other name…

I made a comment on Twitter while I was watching the Gloucester-South Nepean debate yesterday; it would be lovely if we had more differentiation between ward names. I mean, I get why it’s Kanata North and Kanata South…we can keep that straight, sort of. But why do we have Gloucester-South Nepean and Gloucester-Southgate; and Rideau-Vanier, Rideau-Rockliffe and Rideau-Goulbourn?

Come on!

That brought my mind back to a similar…well, complaint is too strong a word…quandary: why is it called Capital Ward? Yes, yes, we’re the capital city, but why use it as the moniker for our ward? Really, if anything should be called “Capital”, it should be Somerset Ward; they’ve got both Parliament and City Hall. They’re closer to being the capital ward of the capital city.

Every other ward seems to be named after either the community, a prominent feature of the ward or a prominent street (which is also the name of a community). “Capital” is none of those things, I’d say.

So I wondered to what it could be changed. You couldn’t name it after one of the neighbourhoods, and Glebe-Old Ottawa South-Old Ottawa East-Heron Park-Glebe Annex-Carleton University is pretty cumbersome. Maybe just go with Old Ottawa Ward? No, that’s pretty weird.

The new footbridge had been called by some the “Midtown Bridge” prior to its official naming, so Midtown Ward? That would actually make a lot of sense if anyone in the city ever called the general area “Midtown”.

We could go with “University Ward”. We have two! It’d be a nice pairing with College, but we don’t have the city’s oldest university, which is just beside our ward, so it might be a bit odd.

Bank is the most prominent street, but it stretches so far beyond Capital that it doesn’t really fit. Maybe an east-west street? Sunnyside Ward? That’s got a good ring to it, but I’m not sure it’s a sufficiently prominent street to warrant such a re-naming. Let’s put it in the maybes.

Riverdale Ward? Hey, I love Archie, too…

Okay, none of this is really doing it for me. What’s a key feature in our ward? The Lansdowne Ward? Might as well call it the OSEG Ward. It’ll be good up until another football team fails.

(I’M KIDDING.)

What about the canal? Could we go with “Canal Ward”? It’s definitely a defining feature in the ward, and certainly has a bunch more meaning to people than “Capital”.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, the Canal isn’t restricted to Capital Ward, and that’s fair…but Somerset Street stretches over into Rideau-Vanier, the old city of Gloucester included (parts of?) Beacon Hill-Cyrville, a number of wards have bays (or Bay Street) and River Ward isn’t the only ward with a river…hell, it doesn’t even have the Ottawa River in it.

Much of the most prominent areas of the canal are in Capital, including Dow’s Lake (no, we’re not calling it “Dow Ward”). Further, the canal goes through this ward, splitting the Glebe and Old Ottawa East, the Glebe and Old Ottawa South, and the Glebe Annex and Carleton University. It also serves as borders with River and Somerset, so those sections are sort of half in Capital.

So, yeah, that’s what we should do. “Capital Ward” is a dumb name that is both aggrandizing and diminishing, at the same time. Let’s change it.

Welcome to Canal Ward.

Kanata North Endorsement

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.

A little more on my Capital Ward endorsement

A few weeks ago, I went on a bit of a binge on Capital Ward, leading up to my endorsement (hey, it’s where I live, so I pay a bit more attention). I wrote that endorsement after a long debate, and I was pretty tired, so not only do I think it’s not as well written as it could be, I also left something out by mistake. (And I don’t just want to tack it on to the bottom of that post, which is now buried.)

My endorsement of Shawn Menard doesn’t change, nor do the reasons I listed. I still think he’s the strongest candidate, with the clearest and superior vision, the best platform, and the best understanding of city-building and what is needed for the ward and the city.

…but I also wanted to give an honourable mention–a second choice or runner up, if you will…so here we go:

Honourable Mention: Christine McAllister

I think this is likely a two-person race between Menard and McAllister, and, moreover, I think it should be a two-person race between Menard and McAllister.

It’s easy to see a lot of the qualities that would make McAllister a worthwhile councillor. She’s hard-working, intelligent, thoughtful, friendly and I don’t get the sense she would take a lot of crap from other councillors. She has a long track record of working for the community, so the dedication seems to be there.

Her platform is decent. While it might be lacking in specific policy proposals, she appears to have a good way of looking at the issues in the ward and the city. She has a nuanced take on taxation and spending, to her credit. And, hell, she’s spoken of a bike corridor along Bank Street.

I disagree on a few of her policy stances, but, all in all, it’s a decent platform that should make you think she’d be a decent councillor.

So why am I not going with her? Well, as I said, I have some quibbles on policy, and on some specific issues that I think are important to the ward. I’m also not sure she has the overall vision I’d want in a councillor. And I don’t think she has as deep a grasp on city-building issues as Menard (which, I imagine, has something to do with Menard’s career, as well as his interests)…but if Menard weren’t in the race, I would be 100% behind McAllister.

So, no, I’m not changing my endorsement, but I am saying that I wouldn’t be terribly disappointed to have McAllister ruling over Capital Ward for the next four years.

River Ward Shade

So some new signs have popped up in the last couple of weeks in River Ward. These signs, from challenger Kerri Keith, are along Crerar Avenue:

You may not be able to quite see, but the signs read (from front to back), HonestyIntegrity and Transparency.

These signs are on public property, so they couldn’t have gone up before September 22, meaning they went up after CBC’s story that noted River Ward incumbent Riley Brockington’s team solicited a fundraiser from the developer community.

This is also after a term of council during which residents felt excluded from the decision to put in a million-dollar playground at Mooney’s Bay, as well as decisions pertaining to the Canoe Bay development.

So, yeah, they seem pretty pointed.

I’m still inclined to think Brockington will hold on to his seat, but this messaging could represent greater unrest in the ward.

However, if Brockington is to be defeated, I’d guess it’d be by Fabien Kalala Cimankinda who has been getting some good press, including some tweets from the previous councillor, Maria McRae. (Oh yeah, and I endorsed him, too.)

We shall see.

Innes Ward Endorsement

Are y’all getting tired of these yet?

Innes Ward is an interesting race. With Jody Mitic not seeking re-election, you might think it’d be a bit of a free-for-all. With no incumbent running four years ago, eight residents threw in their name.

But no, this year, we have four candidates. More noteworthy, perhaps, is that they’re all fairly reasonable candidates. I wouldn’t call any of them crackpots or fringe candidates. This makes for an interesting race, where you’ll be able to learn about each, and each will be worth learning about.

The make-up of the contestants is interesting, too. You have Tammy Lynch, who worked for Mitic; Donna Leith-Gudbranson, who worked for the previous councillor Rainer Bloess, and more recently, for Beacon-Hill Cyrville councillor Tim Tierney; Laura Dudas, a community association president who probably should have been elected four years ago; and Francois Trepanier, an active community member who came in third behind Mitic and Dudas four years ago.

The televised debate helped to differentiate the candidates a good bit. At first, it was a little–George RR Martin writing in molasses slow–with each candidate re-iterating their preferred talking about LRT, traffic and transit (we need the Brian Cobourn extension! we need LRT to go to Orleans south! we need better bus service! we need a north-south bus route to the LRT station!).

But as things went along, different things started to stick out.

First and foremost, Dudas and Leith-Gudranson are the two best candidates. They’re the most thoughtful and have the best policy proposals.

Francois Trepanier came off as pretty condescending, mostly to Dudas–taking a shot about people smoking weed in her neighbourhood and then implying that she was talking too much.

Tammy Lynch came a bit snide, too. At one point trying to trap Dudas on a question about safe injection sites (and Lynch’s gotcha was a sly admission that she wouldn’t do much about overdoses in Orleans if it became a significant problem). In her closing statements, Lynch implied that a parent of a young family wouldn’t really be able to do the job of councillor, since it’s a 24/7 job. That’s not a good look.

It was interesting the way both Lynch and Trepanier took shots at Dudas, but not at Leith-Gudranson or each other in the same way. It makes me think they think Dudas is out ahead (and, certainly, she beat Trepanier last time, so there’s no reason to think she couldn’t be ahead of him this time).

Endorsement: Laura Dudas

Dudas had a bit of an advantage here. She ran last time, and she’s remained heavily involved in local and city-wide politics, so it’s easier to have a full understanding of her and what kind of councillor she would be (I say this is an advantage, but it’s only an advantage if you come off well). Throughout the campaign, she has presented solid ideas and worthwhile, but grounded, vision. She’s had the most balanced approach to spending, taxes and public health. She hasn’t always come off as the strongest candidate in one particular question in a debate, but she has been consistently good, and at times has greatly outshone her opponents.

The others have significant, glaring problems. Trepanier does not have the holistic view of city issues, and his condescending demeanour is not exactly what one would desire in a councillor. Leith-Gudbranson is clearly dedicated, has thought out a number of issues, but also has some fatal flaws when it comes to taxation and spending. Lynch has those same flaws, but without Leith-Gudranson’s upside. She’s also pretty callous about people suffering from addiction.

I was corresponding with a reader on this issue, and she noted that it is disappointing that I’m not inclined to choose one of the bilingual candidates in this race (and, to be clear, if I were, it would be Leith-Gudranson). And, you know, I get that. I think that’s a worthy consideration in this ward, but I think that Dudas is sufficiently on another level from Leith-Gudranson, that bilingualism can’t sway my decision.

(That said, if it’s Leith-Gudranson who winds up winning, I wouldn’t be too upset.)

Saturday Morning Bike Errands

On Saturday morning, I had a few errands to run (actually, I’d had a couple of weeks to do them, but kind of forgot). I had to drop some things off for my church at four different houses in the neighbourhood. Afterwards, I wanted to pop by Winners for a few things.

So a little before 11:00, I hopped on my bike and went about my duties. Along the way, two thoughts occurred to me.

First, bicycling was absolutely, 100% the most efficient way to take care of these tasks. I wasn’t going really far, but multiple stops and maybe some chatting with people meant that walking was out of the question. I would have taken well over an hour (just the popping by the four houses took about 40 minutes by bike). Driving would have been crazy for someone without a mobility issue, like me. There’s just no need for that much driving within a neighbourhood. And since I was only going down residential streets, basically, busing made no sense–it’d make no sense to have buses running down those streets, to begin with.

So, yeah, it’s clear that for certain types of trips, the bike is the most efficient (and easiest) method of transportation. In fact, this is the case for a majority of trips within the city. So, if we’re going to get political, the city needs to facilitate and prioritize bicycling far more than they do.

But, really, my thought process wasn’t all bike-activist that morning.

My other thought was just how nice, how fun it was. Now, I bike a lot, so you might think, of course you thought it was fun. But most of my bicycling isn’t really about fun. When I’m going to work, that’s not fun, especially when you factor in all the hills. When I’m taking my kids to different events, that’s not always fun–again hills, and the added weight and maybe the added stress of getting there on time.

But Saturday morning, there was none of that. I had ample time. The streets I was on were pretty much flat. They were mostly quiet residential streets (yes, I sidewalked it on Bronson a few lot-lenghts). It was just simple and easy. There was little exertion, and everything about it was convenient.

It was really just a lovely way to spend the morning and be productive.

Again, there are a whole bunch of political lessons we could glean from such an experience, but I don’t really want to focus on that right now. It was just a nice morning…the sort of morning we should all be able to have in our city.

Beacon Hill-Cyrville Endorsement

This was supposed to be the most boring race this election season. At first, it looked like incumbent Tim Tierney was sailing to acclamation. At the last moment, Michael Schurter–a former Parliament Hill staffer who lives in the neighbouring ward–registered.

Still, it seemed like no challenge for a popular incumbent.

Then came the Labour Day weekend and the whole race blew up. It was announced the OPP was investigating Tierney about a call he made to Schurter as Schurter was registering. The concern/allegation was that Tierney tried to induce Schurter into dropping out (I’m not going pass judgement on the allegation, one way or the other). Suddenly, Schurter was getting noticed. He got an uncritical profile in the Citizen. Tierney had to back out of the Rogers debate because of a scheduling conflict it was said (the debate was re-scheduled and is now online).

Things were getting exciting (in a bad way)!

And then…well…

This is still one of the most boring races in the election. I watched the debate. It was kind of a race-to-the-pettiest, with Tierney winning in both the snide comments and on actual substance.

Endorsement: Tim Tierney

This is not a fun endorsement to write. There’s an investigation hanging over his head (and I have no idea when we’ll learn anything), but there’s really no alternative. During the Rogers debate, Tierney’s abject disdain for Schurter was evident and unsavoury, but it was only exceeded in such regards by Schurter’s tenuous grasp on important municipal issues.

I imagine Tierney will still sail to victory in this race, though it’ll certainly be closer than it would have been (and turnout might be depressed, which is also sad). And if he did nothing egregiously wrong (whether illegal or not), then I guess that’s how it should be.

However, if Tierney did do something sufficiently bad as to be disqualifying for a majority of Beacon Hill-Cyrville voters, then it’ll be a shame. They don’t have that information in time to make an informed vote, and they don’t actually have a serious option. You can bet that in such a scenario, there would have been a number of qualified and competent residents of the ward who would have stepped up and run. Tim Tierney isn’t irreplaceable, but Michael Schurter definitely isn’t a desirable alternative.

So there you have it. For better or worse (and I dearly hope it’s for better), Tim Tierney is the only reasonable choice in Beacon Hill-Cyrville.

Gloucester Southgate Debate Re-Cap and Endorsement

“I couldn’t agree with you more.”

I swear to god that was said, at minimum, 20 or 30 times. If you all agree with each other so damned much why are you all running!

Seriously, I’m not kidding. The three challengers could not stop saying it. Multiple times every question, they would say it. It was comical, bordering on the absurd.

(Yes, it’s great when candidates will acknowledge common ground or good ideas from their opponents, but this became a verbal tic–a vacuous, throw-away line that really meant nothing other than…I don’t know, to show their gracious superiority?)

Moving on…

Diane Deans has been serving Gloucester-Southgate since before Gloucester-Southgate was Gloucester-Southgate. This demonstrates a certain degree of popularity and competence (one would hope), but also opens up a line of attack for opponents.

This year, Deans has four challengers, but one, Perry Sabourin wasn’t at the debate. Sabourin seems like a nice enough guy and has some okay ideas, but I never got the sense he was a strong challenger, so (for me, at least), this wasn’t a huge loss, even if I would have preferred seeing him there. But things happen.

At the debate, Deans faced off against Sam Soucy, Alek Golijanin and Robert Swaita.

Swaita, a local businessman (he runs a popular family restaurant in the ward, from what I understand) seemed like the best positioned to challenge Deans. He’s older, has deeper roots in the community and can pull out that “as a business owner” line so many people like.

That said, he didn’t shine. He fell into the trap of promising caps on taxes, but then wants to spend more and more money on various things (roads, after-school programs, cops, etc.), and he wasn’t really able to hit Deans on any issues of substance (he promised that he wouldn’t run for re-election if he didn’t get the Airport Parkway widened…but this was after Deans had already said it was scheduled to be widened in 2021…so not much of a promise, there).

Golijanin really drove the debate, attacking Deans on a number of local and city issues, and covering a lot of ground–at one point, Swaita interrupted an extended exposition on the failure of the green bin program to remind Golijanin that the question was about term limits for city council. But in the end, his proposals didn’t differentiate him from anyone (including Deans) and he just wasn’t quite as well-versed on the issues as the incumbent.

Soucy is a Parliament Hill staffer, and you could definitely hear his predilection for politics in his answers. He spoke about his experience and how it relates to public safety and… a bunch of other issues tangentially or denotatively related to the affairs of City Hall. He talked a lot about the need for change (city council apparently hasn’t changed in 20 years, despite Gloucester-Southgate not being part of Ottawa 20 years ago) and the need for consultation. There were some decent ideas. There were some buzzwords.

Deans was pretty much Deans…though a bit disappointing. She’s really been a driving force at council this past term and I would have expected a bit more thrust in her sparring. She was able to defend her record and correct some misinterpretations by the other challengers, and by the end she was rolling a bit more, but, still, it wasn’t her greatest performance. We all have our off days, I guess.

Endorsement: Diane Deans

So the debate wasn’t as definitive as one might like, but Deans was still clearly the best candidate. She had a solid grasp on all the issues (as you’d hope a sitting councillor would), and she presented her ideas well. There were some unfortunate moments–like when she and Swaita had a competition seemingly about who most wanted to waste money on a poorly-though-out widening of the Airport Parkway, or her belief that traffic calming measures are very limited and what we really need is enforcement–but Deans has built up a pretty good track record at council, so these quibbles don’t really detract that much from her candidacy. What you think you have with Diane Deans is what you actually have, and there’s a lot more good than bad in her history.

Kanata South Endorsement

The televised debate for Kanata South only feature three of the four candidates. Allan Hubley, the incumbent, was there, along with challengers Mike Brown and Steve Anderson. Doug Large was not in attendance, which is too bad. I get that these things happen, but it does make it more difficult to assess the candidates.

The debate itself was pretty standard fare. Hubley was far more combative and aggressive than I would have thought for a seemingly comfortable incumbent. Mike Brown was…not much different than Hubley? Steve Anderson probably had the best overall ideas, but he wasn’t great at getting his points across and he was actually quite lousy on transit (just don’t send LRT to Stittsville, problem solved!).

Going into the debate, I was most impressed with Anderson. His website offers some real concrete ideas and a solid(ish) vision, so I figured he was a credible challenger. I still imagine he is, though I doubt he has much chance at winning.

In a thoroughly depressing debate, it was hard to pinpoint a low point–it was either when Brown and Hubley were seemingly having a competition about who liked handguns more, or when they were both completely unmoved by the work of Overdose Prevention Ottawa as they saved lives while city council fiddled.

The absolute lowest point was probably when Hubley attacked Anderson for his anti-gun, anti-overdose policies–as if trying to help people not die is a horrible objective for a city councillor. The really low point will come in a couple of weeks when that sort of argument wins the day in Kanata South.

Endorsement: Steve Anderson or Doug Large

Coming out of the debate, Anderson was the clear, if severely flawed, choice. Hoping people don’t die of an overdose seems like an impossibly low bar not clear, but Brown and Hubley limboed right under it as they curried favour of “responsible” handgun owners.

Doug Large’s website is promising (though suggesting that showers rather than protected bike lanes is how you get people biking is really disappointing). He likes the environment and good management. I know, that doesn’t seem like much, but there were some good ideas, and, hell, he’s not taking the pro-gun, pro-overdose stance, so I’d give him a chance. (Caveat: He might very well take the pro-gun, pro-overdose stance, and we could have found that out at the debate, but, alas, we didn’t, so it’s hard to give him a hardy thumbs up at this point).

Don’t worry, though. Hubley’ll still win.