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Election reflections

October 29, 2014   ·   0 Comments

FOR ONCE, Toronto has made a real step forward, in more ways than one, and offers an example that we think should be followed locally.

For one thing, it has a new mayor in John Tory, known to us not just as our former local MPP but as one of the few politicians who have come to us after an election and thanked us for the fairness of coverage. We confidently predict that he will go a long way in his bid to develop consensus among the often fractious 44-member city council.

We were also impressed by the hope expressed in his victory speech Monday night. “My goal in the next four years, together with council, is to unite this city as one Toronto and to build a great city,” he said. “A Toronto that is known once more as a beacon of respect for everyone. A place where there is opportunity for all. A safe, prosperous, fair, respected and caring place to work and to live. A Toronto which is true to our shared values … standing together leaving no one behind.”

And while some commentators have noted that Mr. Tory got only a little over 40 per cent of the votes cast, a mere seven percentage points above the 33%-plus given Doug Ford, the fact is that he actually got more votes than those won by Rob Ford in 2010, thanks to the much larger turnout at the polls – 61 per cent, up from 50 per cent four years ago.

And that is quite a contrast to what happened locally, when Jeremy Williams became Orangeville’s mayor-elect by garnering 3,940 votes from 19,171 eligible voters, only 7,544 of whom (just 39.3%) bothered to cast ballots.

Granted, the local election campaigning was relatively low-key compared to what transpired in Toronto, and we didn’t have anything approaching a Ford Nation factor.

Mayor-elect Williams’ success may have been partly a result of his promise to vote against any tax hike in 2015 – a commitment Rob Adams may now wish he had endorsed at a time when local residents know they pay far more in property taxes than do Torontonians with homes of the same market value.

Elsewhere in Dufferin, Grand Valley was the only municipality that witnessed an upset in their mayoralty races, with Steve Soloman trouncing incumbent John Oosterhof. Incumbent mayors were returned by acclamation in Mono, Mulmur and East Garafraxa, and in Amaranth Mayor Don MacIver defeated Deputy Mayor Wally Kolodziechuk.

A disheartening aspect of the local elections was the continued male domination at Dufferin County Council, with neither of the two female candidates for deputy mayor – Elaine Capes in Mono and Kim Reid in Orangeville – succeeding against male incumbents. In fact, although four of County Council’s 16 members will be women, none wound up facing the voters, all winning office by acclamation.

Incumbency continues to be an important factor in Ontario’s municipal elections. In Toronto, no fewer than 36 of the 44 members of the city council were returned for another four years, many of them garnering huge pluralities thanks in part to name recognition.

Even in Orangeville, five of the six incumbents who ran were successful, Mayor Rob Adams being the sole exception.

Anyone who read the profiles we published in our last two issues must have been impressed by the qualifications most, if not all, had. And it makes us wonder whether Orangeville and Mono ought not have somewhat larger councils. Orangeville’s had five members when it was incorporated as a village, and today Mono’s council has two fewer members than Shelburne’s despite the town having more population.

One thing we think both Orangeville and Mono should look at is a ward system that would better reflect the fact both towns have significant local communities – older and newer in the case of Orangeville and urban and rural in Mono.

         

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