Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Voting block

I've had several friends ask me if I miss St. John's yet or being a journalist. And the answer to both, truthfully, is no. I made my peace with leaving months ago. There was no option to stay. It would have, inevitably, led to myself and Cathy breaking up and that wasn't happening. So deal with it and move on.

I also don't miss being a reporter too much. Lord knows I needed the break. I had been doing it for almost seven years straight and was getting burnt out. Having said that, I do wish I was back in town covering the St. John's City Council election. Because there is nothing more fun than an election when you're a journalist. And municipal elections tend to be the most fun of all because, as Rick Mercer once wisely pointed out, anyone who runs for town council is normally a bit touched in the head.

I mean that stuff with Ray O'Neill vandalizing the campaign posters of Doc O'Keefe? Priceless. Especially since:
A. He got caught. No one gets caught vandalizing campaign posters.
B. He's not running against O'Keefe
C. He spelt "liar" wrong.

Still, it looks like a dull mayor's race since no one in their right mind could want O'Neill to be mayor, even if you hate Andy. But I've been trying to follow along as best I can so I can vote.

Vote, you say? "But Craig, you don't live in St. John's anymore. How can you vote?"

Well, for a number of reasons. First, as a reporter with The Express, I've probably been to more city council meetings than 99 per cent of the people in St. John's. I've seen the councillors up close. I've interviewed and chatted with them. I've seen the stuff that goes on and is said during meetings that the cameras don't pick up. So that gives me the ability to cast a well informed ballot.

Secondly, I lived there for most of my life (hence the "Townie Bastard" of the blog. I am one. Really). If you give me a chance to cast a vote deciding how my home city is going to be run, I will do it. I will do it if they still send me a ballot 10 years from now and I'm living in New Zealand. St. John's is in my blood.

And third...they sent me a ballot. Not here, of course, but to an old address in St. John's. So I'm voting, damn it. But still, you might want to seriously look at that mail in ballot system. That's two elections in a row that have been severely screwed up.

So who am I voting for? Well, what the hell, here's who I got so far.

Mayor - Andy Wells. And you know what? I would have voted for him if Withers and stuck around or if Colbert had shown a sliver of guts and ran. Because while he is a loud mouth and a bully, he's smart, cares passionately about the city and has a great sense of humour. And all he does his create intense, firey debate on topics important to the city. Whether you agree with what council is doing, odds are the one thing you can't say is that it wasn't debated thoroughly and passionately.

Deputy Mayor - Denis O'Keefe. I like Doc. There are times I wanted to hurl things at him during council meetings to get him to stop talking, but again, he has passion and brains. He'll make a good DM.

Ward 2 - Frank Galgay. Frank is dull and I dread when he gets up to talk because it's going to be long and ponderous, but he's basically a nice, friendly guy. Also I don't know enough about his opponent to vote for him. Plus, Frank nearly got parking fees recinded for downtown residence, something I never thought would happen. So points for that.

Aaron Rudkin. I kid you not, the most intelligent interview I did the past year was with him. People might not give him a break because he's 19 or 20 years old. But he's smarter than nearly everyone else currently on council. Ignore the age and give him a break.
Tom Hann. Mainly because my good friend Anne Martin says to vote for him. He was part of the Liberal party that help run the province into the ground the past few years, but I'll cut him slack because of Anne. She's an elecellent judge of character.

I honestly don't know about the other two to vote for. I might give Shannie a chance. I think she's out of touch with most people in the city, but her passion for heritage buildings is useful to have on council. She's also one of the few able to keep up with Andy.

I won't be voting for Hickman, who might as well have been a ghost, he did so little on council. It won't be Sears, who is, frankly, a joke. He set himself up as the man to keep Andy in place. Yet, repeatedly, Andy ran circles around him. Andy needs someone to call him on stuff, to let him know when he's going too far and to be smart enough to keep up. It isn't Sears. He genuinely isn't as smart as Well, or as quick on his feet. He's a joke on council and it would be a mercy for all concerned if he was removed.

And I have nothing but contempt for Colbert. He's running for Councillor-at-Large for family and work reasons. Bullshit. He did polling and couldn't beat O'Keefe for DM and the same polling said he couldn''t beat Wells. So he scurries back to at-large hoping Wells quits sometimes soon or, worse case scenario, he can run for the mayor's job in 2009 when Wells steps down. If Wells gets the CNOPB job and steps down as mayor (I like Wells, but I have real issues if he does that in the first year of being mayor) just watch how quick Colbert's family suddenly find time for him to go and be mayor. It'll be a miracle.

He's gutless and I hope he's turfed.

So if anyone has a suggestion, let me know. But if your suggestion is someone who has made it a central part of their platform to overturn the Memorial Stadium decision, don't bother. The stadium is a done deal. Get over it and move on.


Liam O'Brien said...

Craig! Great to see you in the blogging world. You were a decent and patient guy to work for back when I did my internship at the Packet. Hope the North is treating you well. Sorry that you're leaving the city just as I arrive from my Buchans roots..

Now I gotta get my digs in re the council picks.

on Wells, I think you summed it up nicely. Same goes for Doc for deputy mayor -- he's done a lot of good work re the cruise ships too.

I'm a Ward 2 resident myself. And here I have to disagree. I voted for Bob Crocker in Ward 2. Bob runs a great little photography business and seems to be a lot more engaged in getting St. John's in the right situation in terms of regulatory regime etc... for investment. Frank just kinda scares me. He seems to defer to Shannie a little too much. He doesn't seem to have much ocnsistency except to resent most things attached to development. The guy, while quite a decent guy in many ways, seems more interested in musing about expropriating private property instead of taking steps to protect it from crime etc.

That brings me to Tom Hann -- He stressed a few issues and did it well. Nobody could ever accuse me of being a Liberal, but I think tomm was right to stress the need for some reform on matters of policing and his big ticket item of fiscal accountability. I voted for Tom.

I also voted for Hickman. I must admit I did this because when it came down to the crunch, he voted the way I wanted him to vote on the stadium issue (I live just a block away, and I honestly can't wait for them ot get started) and on a few other matters. He seems more pragmatic, if quiet.

Even for folks who might not have liked the whole stadium thing, I think your take on it is right -- time to move on.

As for suggestions for your at-large votes, I have only one...
Brian Hudson. Brian is a young energetic guy who has already done great things out on the Logey Bay Council. He runs his own business. Takes a balanced approach to this stuff. I think he'd be a great councillor.

Anyway, there are my thoughts on the municipal thing. All the best.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Having been in the military. I used to get to vote in Provincial elections. Unfortunately I no longer have that privilage.

I still care more about what goes on in NL than anything here in central canada.

Having lived in and attended Gonzaga high school I follow the St John's Municipal election but have never had the fortune of voting. Actually thinking back I don't think i ever voted in a NL municipal election?

As you can see by my nic I consider myself a NL Expat.

Ed Hollett said...

I'll put in my two-cents worth for Lono.

Has Experience. Tons of it. Knows how government works. Can get things done. Works fairly and impartially with everyone.

Doesn't spread rumours about plots involving other candidates.

Welcome to the blogging world, CW. Great to have another voice to join the throng!