Was the future of Burlington in the room?

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

February 25th, 2018



So – who was in the room?

The meeting was intended as a Candidates Workshop sponsored by ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington.

There were prospective candidates from wards 2, 3, 4, a possible for 5 and 6


Carol Gottlob

News anal REDCarol Gottlob, the ward 4 potential had run before and did exceptionally well for a campaign that was very short on boots on the ground and just as short on the financial support side. To win she would have to work at knocking on doors full time and her job as a teacher limits what she can do until school is out. A credible candidate who sits on the BurlingtonGreen board.

rory closeup

Rory Nisan

Rory Nisan, expected to declare publicly very soon. His campaign manager was handing out business cards.

Gareth Williams, a former chair of the Burlington Sustainability advisory committee and a prospective ward 3 candidate was there. He is said to have a campaign team waiting in the wings; Williams is also said to be close to the Mayor.

Gareth Williams

Gareth Williams

Lisa Copper and Jeff Brooks, 2014 candidate for ward 3 were scooting about.

Greg Woodruff was in the room – a ward 1 resident who wants to leap frog being a city council member and grab the brass ring – which most of us call the Chain of Office. Woodruff ran for Regional Chair in 2014 – his 5812 votes then are, in his mind, high enough to propel him to the Mayor’s seat.

There were no council members in the room but the Manager of the Mayor’s re-election campaign manager David Vandenberg was there. He is close to Mike Quackenbush who is also a ward 3 hopeful.

ECoB Crowd Feb 22

Could three of the people in that center row end up sitting at the horseshoe in the city council chamber? Williams, Fiorito and Gottlob would be a change. Standing in the background on the left is David Vanderberg, the manager of the Mayors re-election team.

Vince Fiorito is thinking about running in ward 5 but has to get his run for the Burlington seat as a Green candidate in the provincial election behind him. Fiorito is a very strong environmentalist who thinks that he will gain enough in the way of profile during the provincial election to give him something in the way of an edge when he files nomination papers for the ward 5 city council seat where he would run against Paul Sharman.

Ken White hasn’t formally announced – he has been working diligently to ensure that the ward doesn’t have 10 candidates running for the council sear. White had a former city planner with him at the ECoB workshop might be a conflict there.

Michael Jones stood up and told the room that he would run for the ward 2 seat just as soon as Meed Ward announces she is running for Mayor. There are two other probable candidates for the ward 2 seat. Leah Reynolds is believed to be Meed Ward’s choice. Given the role she played in ensuring the Central high school remained open she could be a shoo-in but another female candidate with a much stronger pedigree could snatch the prize from Reynolds.  Meed Ward has said she is aware of a candidate that would serve the ward very well.

Thurman - Kearns - Hersh

The ladies that made the meeting happen: From the left Dania Thurman. Lisa Kearns and Penny Hersh. Is there a candidate amongst the three?

The ECoB Candidate Workshop drew a young crowd which is really healthy; they were given a solid grounding of the election rules by Elaine O’Brien that apply to municipal elections which are set out by the provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

A firm understanding of those rules is vital. The audience was told that candidates need a campaign manager, they need someone to handle the financial affairs of the campaign and they need a disciplined approach to winning.

The outline that was handed out to anyone interested in running for office is on the ECoB web site.

Peter Thoem, a single Councillor for ward 2 was pretty direct in his comments. “You will have status” he said. “People will respect you and you will have a mountain of paper work in front of you.” Thoem told the audience that on many occasions he had just a couple of days to read complex material and arrive at an understanding.

Thoem made the most important point of the meeting: It is a people business he said; if you don’t like and genuinely care about people – you shouldn’t be in politics.

One has to wonder if anyone delivered this message to the current council.

Carr - Leblovic - Thoem

Former candidates that have won and and have lost gave the audience some of the best advice they are ever going to get. How much of it did they hear? From the left: Mark Carr, Diane Leblovic and Peter Thoem.

During the Q&A part of the meeting Mark Carr, who was defeated by Blair Lancaster in 2010, told the audience that the staff at city hall “are not your friends – they are accountable to you”.

Did the audience listen and were the speakers heard?

Hard to tell – some of the candidates are very well organized and have the discipline that is needed. Are any of them out knocking on doors? Didn’t look that way.

Has every prospective candidate picked up a copy of the two budget books from city hall and spent the hours needed to make sense of the document? Do they understand how municipal finances work – that cities cannot run deficits and that there are millions tucked away in reserve funds that the city can dip into.

Have any of those candidates mapped out their door knocking schedule – have they figured out where the incumbent is weak and how they can lay claim to those voters?

Gottlob ward 4 map

Identifying the vote and getting it out on Election Day.

Diane Leblovic, a former school board trustee, was pretty direct – “identify your supporters and make sure they vote on Election Day. Offer them a ride if that is what it takes.”

I had breakfast with a man who expects he will run in the election – and asked him if he had a map of the ward and if he had figured out how many doors he could knock on in a day. If he took the number of streets and estimated the number of houses and multiplied the two then divided that by the number of days he could campaign, he would have some idea of what he was up against.

He gulped, then paid for the breakfast.

The 2014 election results.


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3 comments to Was the future of Burlington in the room?

  • Ken

    Not that I would campaign thru the Gazette but one reason I’d make a good Councillor is that I understand esoteric concepts like “conflict of interest”.

    Since the Editor pointed out I was sitting beside a former City Planner I would like to point out that “guilt” by proximity is not widely accepted. I can certainly state that my friend, a former City Planner, attended the meeting with me and that we both enjoyed the discourse.

    In closing, Good Luck to all prospective candidates & Grace and Peace to Burlington.

    Editor’s note: And that you left with the same planner who parted ways with the city over matters related to the ADI file.

  • Sharon

    And who are the perspective School Trustees?

  • Stephen White

    It was an excellent meeting, and I was impressed by the energy in the room and the depth of questions from attendees. All three speakers provided great insights and advice. It was also encouraging to meet a lot of bright, capable people who are considering running. Hopefully, most if not all of them will enter the race. Our City is not well-served by acclamations.

    Thanks for providing great coverage.