Consider the alternative

Take a good look at them, and what they’re saying to you.

We need to have the infrastructure in place, the services, have neighbourhoods structured to be livable and people-friendly.”

As a community, we need to pursue mindful development, prioritize infrastructure projects, promote responsible growth and create job opportunities that will encourage young Burlington residents to stay.”

If we can reclaim waterfront in a fair manner, I will support that agenda.”

The above samplings are from campaign websites for Ward 4 challengers, Dan Davidson and Carol Gottlob, hoping to unseat 20-year Councillor, Jack Dennison.

It all sounds pretty good – but DETAILS?! Don’t look for them in their websites.

The other registered challenger, Steve Kempf, has no website. But that’s a moot point, since he’s withdrawing from the race. That makes 3 candidates pulling out in recent weeks. At this rate, the incumbent could be acclaimed!

What do you think of the remaining challengers?

Are you underwhelmed or disinterested? If that’s the case, it might be because you don’t know them, or their specific positions about issues.

Several factors may be involved. Lack of any substantive information in their websites is one – however, that can be remedied quickly.

If they have clear and realistic visions for a better Burlington, websites and blogs are excellent vehicles to show us how to get there.

But it’s not only how to pave the way, it’s also how to pay for it too! Revenue is not a little speed bump on that municipal road. It’s a mountain.

revenue mountain on road

Oddly, neither challenger has started to knock on doors, nor distribute pamphlets.

door knocking

What’s the incumbent doing? He’s out there doing his job as Councillor and, yes, knocking on a lot of doors.

According to his email sent yesterday to Ward 4 residents about the flood: “I have been visiting non-stop to individual homes and affected areas. I am sorry if I missed you or was not able to meet you at your home. I am continuing to visit residents….”.

jack dennison at town hall meeting

Another factor is that while both challengers are longtime Ward 4 residents, neither has been particularly active in the community before this election, nor held leadership roles.

Community experience and profile are not things you gain overnight. Those factors are enormous advantages for any municipal incumbent.

credentials before election

As politicians will tell you, if you want to win a seat on City Council, start learning and ‘campaigning’ for the job at least a few years before the next election.

Davidson and Gottlob don’t fit that profile.

So why wait to introduce themselves to (gulp) over 26,000 voters in Ward 4 (of which only 35% or less are likely to vote), and hope to get some traction with those residents for what’s now a short campaign? No idea. Seems a highly unusual strategy.

Are these challengers counting heavily on a huge anti-incumbent groundswell?

That could also be an unwise strategy. At the municipal level, I believe that people ultimately want to vote for a person, not against someone else.

Will these factors matter in a sleepy Ward 4 race – which, at present, may be turning into a walk for the savvy and confident Dennison?

An all-candidates meeting is planned. That could wake things up closer to the October 27th election.

Elections 2014 Masthead

Of course, what will happen in this election is not solely on the challengers’ shoulders. It’s also up to YOU.

Please take the time and energy to find out about them. Ask questions. Demand answers. Spectator columnist Joan Little offers some helpful insights and ideas….

As the election clock gets louder, and ticks down quickly (September 12th is the last day to register or withdraw) – so much can still happen in Ward 4. Or not.

3 thoughts on “Consider the alternative

  1. I agree years of community work and profile building are an asset for someone challenging an incumbent, but it also begs the question, “Where are those people?” It takes a lot of guts, I’m learning, to “put oneself out there”, as well as ground work and preparation. Meanwhile, Mr. Dennison is busy, I am certain, dealing with constituents hard hit by the recent flood in Ward 4, and I mean this sincerely, because I know he has been doing his job. Some constituents may not be so happy with their current councilor, but this does not preclude opportunistic motives. In any election, candidates offer choice, and I believe Ward 4 will have an excellent selection to choose from come election day. As for details, unless I am missing something important, I have not seen a recent web page from Mr. Dennison, nor any literature. Each time I Google him, I see him declaring he is running in the October 2010 campaign. So, I think it is fair to say we are all doing our homework leading up to what should be a lively and interesting challenge very soon. I look forward to it.

  2. If, and I think it is a big if, community experience matters why happened to your bid for office in ward for in the 2010 election.
    None of the people with the experience you talk of stepped up to the place. Respect those that did – and send them a campaign donated.

    • Pepper,

      Many thanks for your comment about my blog post!

      There’s still time to register, so let’s see who steps “up to the place” (sic).

      Why do you suggest community experience doesn’t really matter for a challenger? As I noted in my post, politicians (and others with political insights) advise to get involved well ahead of any campaign for multiple reasons (to know your community better and be better known by it; to make important connections/relationships and gain valuable knowledge; to confirm and demonstrate your genuine commitment to public service; etc.).

      I agree, though, it’s certainly not the only important factor. Nor is it an overriding one. But it sure can help – especially if and once you get elected.

      As for “why (sic) happened to your bid”?

      In my case, I ran against an embedded incumbent in 2010 with higher profile and name recognition, who’s worked admirably at the job for a very long time (not without some issues or concerns raised by residents along the way), and who’s also an experienced and savvy campaigner.

      As you know, those are huge factors to overcome in any municipal election, if you can’t at least match them. As mentioned earlier, community experience alone is certainly not enough to win at this level.

      While I knew all of this going in, there’s nothing quite like first-hand experience to get a real education (including to find out a lot more about our community, City Hall and Halton for which I’m extremely grateful).

      As a former candidate, then, I completely understand and respect that it’s a brave and bold decision to put your name on the ballot. I reject any insinuation that I don’t.

      As for a campaign “donated” (sic), and as you know, it’s usually given for more than just respect. It’s also a measure of, among other things, tangible support. And not every challenger asks for or accepts donations (I didn’t as a first-timer).

      Let’s hope more voters in 2014 get informed about all candidates, and get out to vote – showing respect and support for the democratic rights we can exercise.

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