Thursday, 1 October 2009

On Mayoral Elections

I love following mayoral races big and small. There have been a few interesting items on this front lately:

Today, 19 year-old uni Student Kurtis Coombs is the new mayor of Paradise, Nfld, one of the province's fastest growing communities. He won the Mayor's chair by just three votes over the incumbent, a former provincial cab-min. He told CBC that sometimes you have to step forward when you're unhappy and DO something. He did.

Update: Paradise Lost
(Check out this day after interview on CBC)

An assumed 2009 'Mayoral race of note' was to be New York City's.

In the 1990's New Yorkers voted twice to bring in a two-term limit for mayors. Michael Bloomberg worked on council allies and future office-seekers to have that law repealed and then threw his hat in the ring for a third term.

Initially it was thought that anger over the move could leave the door open for an opponent.

In addition, there was Bloomberg's spending. By early July the Bloomberg camp had spent $37 million - four times what he spent to that point in his first mayoral run ! The massive ad blitz that blanketed the city over the summer was found by one university study to make voters feel annoyed rather than informed.

Despite all this, things have simmered down and the campaign of main rival, former City Comptroller William Thompson, started to fade. Bloomberg now has a 52% to 36% lead over Thompson that shows little sign of shrinking. (Even the strange factor was squeezed from the race when New York's Naked Cowboy bowed out of the running).

The campaign ends November 3rd, 2009.

(Check out Bloomberg ... Uninterrupted in Next American City Magazine)

Saskatchewan's next municipal elections are October 28th.

Earlier this summer a sitting mayor, Anne Weisgerber of Maple Creek SK, appealed for someone to run against her ! The issue is the lack of civic participation that is seen in municipalities of all sizes, but is most acute in towns and villages. The CBC story notes that a recent Saskatchewan Government report:

"...found that in big cities, 11 per cent of the council and mayoralty position were not contested in 2006. In smaller communities, including towns and villages, 54 per cent of the candidates were not challenged. In rural areas the acclamation rate was even higher — at 86 per cent".

Even in Mayor Coombs' back yard of Newfoundland, of the 266 municipalities that could have held elections yesterday "100 towns had councils which had been acclaimed".

Saskatchewan's nominations closed today, Sept 30th, and Mayor Weisgerber got her wish. A member of Maple Creek Council is taking her on !

So it is onto Toronto where there has been a wave of interest in the top job since Mayor Miller announced that he will not seek re-election in the November 2010 election.

This has already brought about a wave of discussion about the issues that Canada's largest city faces. As pointed out by Marcus Gee in the Globe and Mail: this can only be a good thing. He ends is column with "Hang on to your hats. It should be a fascinating year".

Sighh...I'm sure more municiplaities wish they had that in store !


The View from Seven said...

I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the number of uncontested races increased over the coming years.

Politics has always been a demanding career -- the Labour Board would be sent after any public or private sector employer that demanded of its employees what is demanded of politicians (or what they impose on themselves, many politicians being workaholics).

The Internet, Blackberry and cellphone have probably pushed the job even closer to unbearability in recent years, thus reducing the number of people able and willing to run for public office.

Larry Wilson said...

Just an update on your posted comments of October 1st about the Maple Creek, SK election. Not only did Mayor Anne Weisgerber ask for someone to run against her - They did - and handed her her butt on a platter. she lost to Barry Rudd a sitting councillor, 645 votes to 288 votes! Be careful what you ask for - you just might get it!

mrchristian said...

Lol ! Thanks for the update !!