A large part of the public has taken back the power they gave the people they elected to office

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 21st, 2018



Burlington is going through an experience it hasn’t had for some time.

They have taken back the power they gave the people they elected to office because those people have not exercised that power effectively or efficiently.

One speaker at the Mayor’s Reverse Town Hall told the Mayor that “You have lost our trust.”
Democracy is a delicate process, it needs constant care and attention which, unfortunately, many citizens have failed to provide.

council with term datesPoliticians have to be held accountable – and not just during elections. Every member of the current council was re-elected in 2014 – they took that as a signal that they could continue doing what they had done the previous four years. That is the message the taxpayers sent.

And the voters in Burlington may well be sending a similar signal again.

Can you name people who are putting their names forward as candidates? The Gazette is aware of two young men who are planning to run for Council seats – unfortunately both are in the same ward so all the city will get is one of the two. Both would be welcome additions to council.

The Gazette has met with close to a dozen people encouraging them to run for office. In several cases they would earn more than what they are currently earning.

There is something noble about being chosen by your peers to represent and preserve what the city they have chosen to live in has going for itself.

There are conditions to being asked to serve; like being invited to dinner – you are expected to leave at some point. The current Council has two members who need to move on and recognize that fresh minds are needed.

When ending a career in civic service the idea is to get out at a high point.

Those who have been Councillors for a long time will not be motivated to move on if they don’t see younger, fresher faces biting at their ankles.

In the past we have seen people put their names forward who were not ready for public office and brought little in the way of wisdom or experienced to the table. There was at least one that got elected in 2010 that met that condition.

The new election rules – pushing back the nomination date to May 1 from January 1 makes it a little harder to create a profile or get known – but it can be done.

If a candidate cannot raise a team to get themselves elected to office then they are not ready for office.
There is a public waiting for good candidates to come forward.

Marianne Meed Ward delegated so often at city council in 2008, 2009 and 2010 that she became a known entity and got behind an issue that mattered to people.

The current Mayor wants to serve a third term, a former city Councillor and former Member of Parliament wants back in and will announce formally on Tuesday that he will run for the office of Mayor.

city hall with flag poles

The seat of government – yards away from the Cenotaph that recognizes those who lost their lives defending the democracy that gets practiced at city. There is an obligation to honour and respect their sacrifice.

There is an Aldershot resident who ran for the Chairmanship of Regional Council in 2014 with absolutely no experience in municipal government who has now convinced himself that on the basis of the votes he got in 2014 he can get elected as Mayor of Burlington. There is a line in that poem: Twas the night before Christmas – “While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads” – the words were intended for children but an adult seems to have taken them on.

We get asked regularly “Is she going to run? Is she going to run?

Did God make little green apples?

Of course Meed Ward is going to run – she is being very strategic on choosing when she announces.

The question that follows is – who will run for the ward 2 seat? And is it possible for Meed Ward to end up with a council that will have 4-3 votes for motions.

The city didn’t like it all that much when Cam Jackson’s council produces a lot of those 4-3 votes and look where replacing Jackson got us. But that is another story.

Salt with Pepper is an opinion column written from time to time by the publisher of the Gazette

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

9 comments to A large part of the public has taken back the power they gave the people they elected to office

  • Lynn Crosby

    Agree Stephen. I remember that ward 6 issue well. I also recall Lancaster, not too long after being elected that year, running for the federal Conservative nomination. She lost, but I remember thinking at the time, what do the Ward 6 residents think of the fact that she would prefer to leave City council already, cause a by-election at our expense, and head off to Ottawa instead? She also ran for the same nomination in 2004 and lost, and ran for the Provincial nomination in 2006 and lost. Are we supposed to believe her first priority is as a City councillor?

  • Stephen White

    While it is important to have new candidates lined up to replace the “old guard” let’s remember that incumbents keep getting re-elected because of vote-splitting.

    In Ward 6 in 2014 there were 22,579 persons eligible to vote, of whom 6,973 exercised their franchise. There were 11 candidates in the race. Blair Lancaster got 2,087 votes, or less than 30% of the total votes. The 2nd through 6th place finishers received between 408 and 1,642 votes apiece. Some candidates in that race managed less than 50 votes.

    I hope those seeking office who are desirous of real change put the greater community good ahead of raw political ambition. If, by early August, a candidate can’t garner sufficient support and polls indicate they haven’t a chance of winning, then take the “high moral ground”, drop out of the race, and throw your support behind a non-incumbent whose values closely align with yours. Let’s not have a repeat of 2014.

  • Greg Woodruff has coined an excellent phrase. Burlington needs to focus on quality of life not quantity of people. As they say- that’s it in a nutshell!

  • William

    I’m losing trust with city hall staff also. Here’s the latest dishonest fact they shoveling to the public on Twitter:

    “Under #BurlON’s proposed Downtown Precinct Plan only 11% of the downtown would see growth over the next 100 years. 49% remains protected public space and 40% remains protected residential neighbourhoods.”

    Really – 100 years?

    Presently there are 14 projects in play in the downtown alone (assembled, approved or being built, submitted applications).

    Once the official plan is approved, we’ll witness a deluge of applications.

    Tanner and her ban of planners are out of control and need to be stopped.

  • Pam

    We need a mayor that is concerned with what all the residents of Burlington desire and not just the ward is which he or she resides.

  • “has now convinced himself that on the basis of the votes he got in 2014 he can get elected as Mayor of Burlington.”

    I can only get elected if:

    1) Lots of people decide they have had it with the idea that we will permit tall buildings virtually everywhere and “muddle through” the obviously problems this will create.
    2) People decide the city can not just change the zoning on houses in the suburbs and try and drive every one out – by allowing then placing 11 story buildings in people’s back yards.
    3) People look at what I was saying 4 years ago and agree, most of these problem were predictable and have come home to roost much as I suggested.
    4) People want a Burlington that is a future of mainly low-rise 4 story buildings for families, not these sky-scrapers that can not be provisioned for or bought by families at all.

    Or every just concludes as I have:

    Burlington needs to focus on quality of life, not quantity of people.

  • John Sweeny

    Anyone putting thinking about throwing their hat in the ring for Ward 4?

    I look forward to a new Councilor in our Ward.

    Anyone? Anyone?

  • Dennis walker

    For a start…
    We need the fearless Marianne Meed Ward as our mayor and the passionate Lisa Kearns
    to replace her in ward 2