Adventures in voter outreach

I’m not trying to pick on mayoral candidate Darren Wood; I promise. But the mayoral campaign is pretty quiet and Wood is not, for good or ill. To his credit, he is very engaged with residents on social media, even if it doesn’t always work out so well.

For instance, on Twitter, he has been claiming to support bike safety and bike infrastructure, but this is a direct contradiction he’s written previously. As happens, people–voters–call him out, and when they do, he doesn’t respond so well:

Here’s what he wrote on his blog:

So how do we handle the debt. Tighten our belts, no new capital spending, cut back the LRT to finish the line we started and use existing tracks in the city and expand as we have the money in the future.

Bike safety does not come from a few cans of paint. Real cycling infrastructure requires capital spending. You can’t honestly claim to be for bike safety but also categorically rule out any new capital projects. Buy, you may wonder, what did Wood have to say specifically about bike infrastructure in that blog post:

Last, but not least by any means, is bikes in Ottawa. Surprisingly the views run the spectrum from let them fend for themselves to make more bike lanes to the need for bike lanes with concrete barriers separating the bikes from the cars. I am all for separate bike lanes and in new construction or total remodels, room permitting concrete separating the bikes and the cars. But we cannot do it over night. Bike lanes are easy, concrete separated bike lanes cost money. When asked of the people who wanted concrete if they were willing to pay for it with a slight tax increase the answer was 100% no from everyone asked without fail. You can’t have it both ways. But no matter how you dice it, bike safety has to be a priority in Ottawa. With more and more people riding due to health concerns, cost of fuel and/or it’s the environmentally friendly thing to do, there are a lot more bikes on Ottawa’s streets then ever before. Their safety is everyone’s concern. But to make any real change when it comes to bikes in our city, it will take an effort on the part of city hall and the bikers to come together and create “realistic” plans and goals.

It is, clearly, one giant hedge. He’s all for bike safety, but we need “realistic” goals. He supports putting in separated bike lanes “room permitting”. What does that mean? Does he value ample free parking over bike safety? Is all for bike safety as long as it doesn’t interfere with his commute down a four-lane road. His suggestion that bike safety would necessarily require a tax increase is facile and dishonest. Surely, a mayoral candidate understands that city funds can be re-allocated. Current spending on bike infrastructure is a pittance compared to the overall budget, as well as current spending on road work. We could spend a tiny bit less on cars and a tiny bit more on bikes.

However, Wood seems to be wedded to the status quo (which is odd for a self-styled maverick and outsider). The money for cars must remain for cars in perpetuity. It’s a simple-minded approach to city budgeting. A new budget is an opportunity to re-prioritize spending.

Further, since Wood is running on a platform of saving millions by eliminating the green bin program and cutting wasteful spending, why would we need a tax increase to pay for a few more cycle tracks? Is Wood admitting that his crusade to curb waste is doomed to failure? If you think Wood learned his lesson about going after residents over twitter, you’d be wrong. Here’s what happened yesterday evening:

Here’s the full quote, from the same blog post as above:

I have sampled almost every ward in Ottawa via Tim Horton’s and various grocery stores and without a doubt, the number one issue in Ottawa is garbage. People want their weekly garbage pick up restored now!

Well, I guess he has a point. He surveyed people at Tim Horton’s and grocery stores.

(And, yes, I’m sure he’ll just chalk it up to his sense of humour.)

Mayoral candidate Darren Wood seems well-intentioned… [Updated]

Mayoral candidate Darren Wood seems like an engaged politician, which is certainly a point in his favour. He’ll get into drawn-out twitter discussions, and is becoming a rather active blogger. Recently, he wrote on the matter of what sets him apart from other mayoral candidates. A worthy topic, no doubt.

I’m not going to get into everything he wrote, just yet, nor am I going to do a Mike-Maguire-esque fisking of his entire platform. I do, however, want to bring up one part:

This is a very good question that was asked of me during an interview today. Despite having done a half dozen interviews already in the last week or so, this was the first time anyone had asked me what the difference between myself and other candidates was. In this case she was comparing me to Mike Maquire who apparently has an almost identical campaign platform to mine. To that I would say, maybe he read my website and tweets that were coming out long before he started up his campaign. I’m not saying he gleamed his idea’s from me, I’m suggesting it’s possible is all.

At first, I thought he was just being a tad cheeky (something I can respect), but that final line is just a tad too earnest. Darren Wood is unequivocally wrong that Maguire took his platform from Wood. Maguire ran for mayor four years ago on an incredibly similar platform. It’s ridiculous to suggest that Maguire is just following in Wood’s shadow.

If you go to Maguire’s site, you will see that he has a pretty robust platform. He doesn’t just list a few key points, he has a lot of in-depth information. Wood doesn’t have a platform on his site. He has a list of nine bullet-points that he wants to accomplish in his first term.

If Wood really wants to come off as the best option to Watson, he needs flesh out his ideas, release a full platform and get a better handle on the other candidates. Merely claiming to be the lead dog actually diminishes his credibility.

On the other hand, I support his use of gratuitous profanity.

Update: See, this is how engaged he is, within moments of me tweeting about this post, he responded:

I hereby rescind my criticism (though I’m still looking forward to his full platform).