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Election Day is finally here!
Today finds us in a very different place than November 2010. Mayor Fontana stepped down before completing his first term after being convicted of fraud. Councillor Joni Baechler is now Mayor Baechler after being appointed to the position until the election. Several wards are without an incumbent, with councillors not seeking re-election, and Councillors Swan and Brown vying for the mayor’s chair. On top of that, we’ve had upsets in the mayoral race as Roger Caranci stepped down from the campaign, after the advanced polls had opened, to endorse his once-rival Paul Cheng, a complete unknown who is polling close behind front-runner Matt Brown.
So – a lot of potential for big changes on council! I’m hoping that this election will help renew interest in the electoral and civic process, and I plan to continue blogging and closely following the next council session.
But most importantly – make sure to get out there today and VOTE!!!
If you aren’t sure about any part of the election, there is still time to get acquainted with where to go and who your candidates are:
Not sure which ward you are in? Check out this map on the City’s website.
Not sure who your candidates are? The City’s website lists all candidates here.
Looking for where to vote? The City website will show you where to go.
Looking for an election night event? Check out Election Night at the Convention Centre!
To finish this post, I’ll leave you with this poem “Your Voice, Your Vote” by the amazing Holly Painter (@), check it out!
Next post: London Votes 2014 Recap
I believe Nancy McSloy would be the best representative for our ward. Not only are her views on the ward and our city progressive and closest to mine, but I’ve had the opportunity to get to know her as a person before the election. I was able to volunteer with her on the Strengthening Argyle Neighbourhood Task Force and the Argyle Community Association, and have witnessed her passion for the our ward and the city firsthand. The London and District Labour Board removed their endorsement of Bill Armstrong (more on that below) and endorsed her campaign, saying she would be a progressive voice on Council. As her About page shows, she has volunteered and worked in on a number of fronts, and I’ve been very impressed by what I have seen. In volunteering with McSloy at Argyle local events I’ve been amazed by the amount of community members who know and deeply respect Nancy. Her heart is here, and the community seems to know it. It’s not a far jump from knowing a community well to representing a community well, and shifting from being a researched, dedicated and communicative volunteer to a councillor.
I also believe that her two opponents are not the best representatives for our city.
Bill Armstrong has been known as a progressive candidate but over the past council term has been slipping towards the “Fontana 8” on key votes, including the Reservoir Hill and PenEquity developments. This trend seemed to accelerate once Fontana stepped down from office and Councillor Swan became the heir-apparent of the group, including Armstrong voting against the Fanshawe-Kingsmills deal. This is despite the fact that it would help the school expand operations in ward 3 and likely bring more student activity to ward 2. This didn’t miss the notice of the London and District Labour Council – he lost their endorsement to McSloy because of his voting pattern over the last term. Armstrong has reacted passionately about a few issues in the ward, like the sound barriers along Veterans and opposition to a home for autistic adults that’s scheduled to be built near us (only a few neighbours actually seem to be against this development). Generally his votes are unpredictable, and appear to be based on his personal opinions. Most of the people I have spoken to in the ward who have made efforts to communicate with Armstrong were met with silence. Armstrong seems to have coasted for twenty years on voter apathy and a lack of strong candidates who can beat the automatic boost from being incumbent. Last election he won with only a small margin over Steve Polhill.
On the conservative side is Steve Polhill. If the donations for Bud Polhill and Steve Polhill in the 2010 election are any indication, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Bud Polhill was a staunch member of the Fontana 8 in the last Council term, and has been involved in both secret meeting controversies investigated by the Ontario Ombudsman. The last thing we need is a second Polhill at the Council table. He appears to have made his banner issue the proposed rec centre to be built in 2018 in East Lions Park, and how it should be relocated to another site like the former Churchill Public School site. This issue didn’t actually appear to be an issue to anyone until Polhill made it an issue (we live near the park, and everyone we’ve spoken to has been enthusiastic about the project and what it will mean for the East Lions neighbourhood), and I’ve seen very little else from his campaign to distinguish him as a candidate other than being a Polhill.
How will this ward race go? I think it is still anyone’s guess. 2010 saw a close race between Polhill and Armstrong, I believe down a conservative/progressive divide. Incumbency is hard to defeat, but Polhill has spent these last four years involved in the community, and the lines of progressive/conservative have been blurred. Nancy is a well-known and well-respected member of the Argyle community though and I think has really shook up what could have been a 2-candidate race. The London Free Press gives this assessment: “A horse race, with McSloy winning endorsement from the London and District Labour Council and a record of activism under her belt. Polhill has name recognition, from his politician father, and a pro-development stance.”
How has the campaign gone? These are Nancy’s thoughts on the campaign, in her own words:
The past eight months have been a whirlwind of being out in the community and knocking on doors. I have been through three seasons, spring, summer and now fall. I have also been through almost every kind of weather except for a blizzard.
Ward 2 is full of beautiful streets and neighbourhoods. I have seen so many beautiful front yards and gardens and now I am seeing many awesome Halloween displays. This shows the pride that the residents of the ward take in their homes and communities. I want to work hard for the great people of the ward for the next four years.
My team of volunteers has been amazing; we have walked hundreds of miles as we have been to every street at least once, some two or three times. I have had many people ask for signs for their lawn and many people who have donated to my campaign. For that I want to say thank you to each and every one for putting their support behind me.
Of course there have been some hiccups along the way, but I have been working throughout the community for many years and decided that no matter what I was going to keep going as I want to represent the people of Ward 2 at City Hall. I have made it to “Election Eve” and now it is a matter of waiting for the results. Tomorrow is going to be the longest day of the campaign, but to everyone who has been part of this journey I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.
In a mayoral campaign full of twists and turns, Tuesday night – less than a week before Election Night – delivered another stunner. Mayoral candidate Paul Cheng, who moved from relative obscurity during the campaign to becoming the closest contender to front-runner Matt Brown, owns many unlicensed rental properties in London.
Cheng has said that he refuses to license his properties or to have them fire inspected as of a matter of principle, because many other London properties are not licensed and not under the same level of scrutiny, so why should he pay when others don’t? When asked if a mayor should choose which laws to follow, he backtracked and said that he would of course properly licence his properties before taking office.
He went on to talk about how painful his experiences with city hall have been, but denies that these experiences had an impact on his decision to leave his business career to run for mayor. In his defense about his decision, he said: “If you want to crucify me for that, yes, I protested and I stood up for my right to defend myself. . . . Is it wrong for me to stand up for my belief? Do you want a mayor that just craters under everything?”
The more Cheng’s platform and business conduct surface in the last days of campaigning, the more he seems akin to fringe candidate Arnon Kaplansky, who has also run foul of city hall with his development plans. Kaplansky is all about decrying “red tape” at city hall – but his “red tape”, to me, is code for “due diligence”. Kaplansky argues his properties would be so much better if city hall would just get out of the way and let him do whatever he wants.
(There are concerns being voiced that this article from the LFP is somehow tied to Cheng’s opposition, and the timing is suspect so close to the election. This comment was made by the article’s author, Jonathan Sher: “No one leaked anything. I investigated Mr. Cheng’s experience as a businessman as it is that experience that has been a cornerstone of his campaign. In London, his business experience is almost exclusively as a landlord. I conducted land registry searches to find out which properties he owns (many are under a numbered company), then asked city hall bylaw enforcers whether those properties had been duly licensed — a question that any civil servant is required to answer, as these are public records. As best I can tell, neither Brown nor Swan were aware of the issue until I asked them about it.”)
These revelations come on the heels of another controversy, starting the night of Sunday Oct 19 when one Scott Sproul (who has since deleted his account) tweeted a racist message to Forrest Bivens (@) over his taking over the People of London (@) Twitter account. This was awful but not unique for Sproul, who has been trolling London social media for years, but it was revealed to many that he is part of the Paul Cheng campaign team. I and others called the Cheng campaign office Monday to ask what capacity Sproul has on the team, and if the Cheng campaign knows that Sproul uses his vitriol to attack Matt Brown supporters as well as support Paul Cheng. I was contacted by the campaign manager Tom Linden that morning, who told me that Sproul was not associated with their campaign. That afternoon, Paul Cheng’s campaign announced that Sproul was a volunteer with the campaign, and no longer welcome. Hm.
Following that, am980 wrote the story about it and Forrest continued to talk to Linden. Forrest shared the latest e-mail he had received, where Linden denied one of the quotes they had published from Cheng, and said “I honestly don’t know how to get the media to report the truth without editorial sensationalism”. This prompted Craig Needles to publish this blog post including the sound clip of the quote, and saying that Cheng owed him and the station an apology. That evening Cheng contacted am980 and Craig Needles to apologize and say that he never meant to cast doubt on the professionalism of either… but didn’t address all the inconsistencies, nor the fact he referred to some of those questioning him as the “old boys network”.
These are only the latest contradictions from the campaign. Paul Cheng has insisted his campaign is about results not paper, and that London has enough talking and enough studies, time for some action! But he has then stated that some of his first actions as mayoral will be to meet with the top 100 businesses in London and talk with them to find out what they need from city hall, and create plans, including transportation plans, to evaluate what is to be done. Sounds like a lot of talking and studies – all of which are already done. As candidates Swan and Brown have indicated, if Cheng knew his way around City Hall he would already know that, and realize that this work has been done for him.
In an article Wednesday, Cheng himself admitted that his campaign team is “rag-tag”, without experienced team members. Cheng made Tom Linden his campaign manager after he came to Cheng’s door to offer his support, because Linden came across as someone genuine, with his heart in the right place. In speaking to Linden on the phone I was given the same impression – but he immediately admitted to me he was far out of his depth running this campaign. With this knowledge, the glaring errors in the past week make more sense.
This campaign just doesn’t add up.
Worse, Paul Cheng seems like a candidate that sees himself as above the rules. From wondering aloud if all matters before Council even need to go to a vote to now seeing exactly how he runs his own land management business, it’s easy to see the City snared in needless controversy with the OMB and Ontario Ombudsman, should Cheng take office.
I ask anyone considering voting for Paul Cheng to look into his campaign, and these controversies piling up before the big day. The more his campaign is examined, the more it looks like a second rendition of the Fontana years on Council. We know how that story went. I hope that after Election Day, we don’t repeat it.
I closed one of my last posts with “I say this every time I write and then there is a massive gap between posts, but…I hope that this will mark a return to writing. There has been so much to write about both locally and around the world, will aim to be here much more often.”
That was a couple months ago…
This year has gone by astoundingly quickly, with Molly born in April, and suddenly now 6 months old. I’m still adapting to becoming a father but enjoying every minute of it, though between work and Molly-time it has become very easy to revert to introversion and not make it out to Election 2014 events. Speaking of…
The election season has managed to both drag and blitz by – it’s hard to believe that election day is less than a week away, even as some aspects of the election have made it seem endless. The last weeks have been marked by some major upsets including that once-presumed front-runner Roger Caranci withdrew from the mayoral race and endorsed once-fringe Paul Cheng, who has been making massive gains on front-runner Matt Brown. Yesterday alone saw two racism controversies: a) Paul Cheng dismissing a campaign volunteer who wrote racist/abusive tweets, mostly to Matt Brown supporters, and b) three candidates running against presumed Ward 3 front-runner Mohamed Salih tried to ambush him on CJBK radio with bogus questions about Mo’s residency etc. that they have chased his campaign with since the start. As things have gotten frantic in the last days of campaigning there have been complaints on all sides of campaigns turning negative, and even many that are passionate about politics have been feeling burned out.
I’ve been thinking repeatedly about writing on the election but have struggled to find inspiration, even as my friend (and fellow Fanshawe ILPT graduate) Thomas has written excellent coverage in his blog. His posts have been referenced by many as he has thoroughly and impartially written about the council and mayoral candidates. It’s been great to be able to follow his posts, but has left me with little to do! I appreciate him encouraging me to get back into writing.
So: it has been great to get back to this blog, and hope once again to write more regularly. There might not be too much more to say on this election, but I’m very excited to see who we’ve elected, and what direction they will lead our city. After the disaster of the Fontana 8 I’m hoping for better days ahead… we shall see.