Why is it that the incumbents don't want to defends what they have done for the past eight years?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 5th, 2018



Sharman puzzled LVP

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman listening to east end residents.

Councillor Sharman wasn’t certain that ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington – had the legitimacy or credibility to organize a series of debates for residents in each of the city’s six wards.

Dennison announcing

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison

Councillor Dennison chose not to take part in the debate opportunity.

Councillor Lancaster took issue with Mark Carr moderating the ward level debates – ECoB arranged for a different moderator.

What is it about these three statement that are similar?

All three are members of a city council that has been in place for eight years and they aren’t interested in debating the issues.

Sharman and Dennison face very serious challenges – Lancaster has a battle on her hands. All three could be collecting pension before the end of the year.

The people of Burlington are now at a point where they want to be at the table where the decisions are made. They have trusted their members of city council to act in the best interests of the electorate. Many think that trust is now misplaced.

We have a democratic process where the elected go before the electorate and defend what they have done in the past and explain what they propose to do in the future.

Instead, Lancaster takes issue with Mark Carr being the moderator – and what might the basis of that concern be? Carr has been moderating the panel discussion The Issue on Cogeco TV for years. No one has ever suggested that he has shown any bias.

Lancaster on bullying

Ward 6 Councilor Blair Lancaster chairing a Standing Committee

Just what could Mark Carr do in a public debate that would harm Lancaster’s interests? This is a candidate who has come up with a case of the jitters.

Lancaster did much the same thing when the Gazette sponsored a debate in ward six when she was up against nine other candidates in ward six. On that occasion Lancaster didn’t have the “cahonies” to complain directly – she had her sister Brenda do the complaining. Slimy stuff.

Sharman has no use for any citizen group that he doesn’t control. And he doesn’t like situations where he can’t control the agenda. Ward 5 has two female candidates who are going to be in his face demanding answers to their questions and explanations behind some of his questionable behaviour during this election and that is taking far from his comfort zone.

Poor Jack Dennison – he hopes that if he can do his door to door campaigning and continue to charm the residents he can squeak through. It doesn’t look as if he is going to get away with that approach this time.

The beauty about the democracy we have is that the voters put an x mark on a piece of paper and put their marked ballot in a box – it’s a secret ballot. By the end of the election eve – the voters will know if their will was focused enough to bring about a change.

Councillors Taylor and Craven chose not to run for re-election. Craven has never been beaten – and he would probably win another term of office had he chosen not to retire. No word yet on what he wants to do next.

Councillor Taylor came to the realization that it was time to put the gauntlets on different hands. A wise decision on his part. He has served well for the most part and should be recognized for his contribution. Did he stay too long? The voters didn’t think so. He never lost an election and was acclaimed on at least one occasion.

Residents have been complaining for more than a year about the absence of the kind of engagement they want to see in the direction the city grows.

Gary Scobie

Gary Scobie has delegated to the city in dozens of occasions – doubts he has ever been heard.

Council has failed to hear what the citizens are saying and staff, who serve at the will of Council, take their que from city council.

The public is very unhappy with staff, particularly with the Planning department and the Office of the City Manager.

Should there be a new city council – there will be changes at the senior staff level.

guillotineIn the meantime there are going to be debates in every ward of the city so that citizens can hear what those who want to serve have to say for themselves. Those who have served will be asked why they should be re-elected.

Three of those seeking re-election: Sharman, Dennison and Lancaster are being dragged into the debates kicking and screaming.

Same thing happened in the French Revolution when the guillotine was put into almost daily use.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions, reflections, observations and musings of the Gazette publisher

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12 comments to Why is it that the incumbents don’t want to defends what they have done for the past eight years?

  • Marie

    When I look around at the traffic gridlock, the towering new condos blocking our lake-view, the never-ending road construction and wholly inadequate transit system, I see no reason to vote for any of the incumbents.

  • Mike Ettlewood

    I think that this article is an excellent summary of where certain incumbents naturally stand with respect to public engagement and input. Mr. Sharman has never had great regard for the opinions of those whom he represents and has repeatedly demonstrated an arrogant disrespect for citizens who delegate and offer contrary opinions. He doesn’t accept criticism or different views from “the small folk” very well. These debates must almost seem like insubordination; a pedestrian infringement on his natural right to rule. I think it best for all involved, most certainly the voters of Ward 5, to give Mr. Sharman some extra time to devote to his consulting interests where his sage ‘world view’ might be more properly appreciated. Give Paul the freedom to operate elsewhere on October 22nd!

  • Penny Hersh

    Greg, we have discussed in length your suggestion of the Mayoral Candidates being included in the Ward Candidate debates.

    The purpose for not including the mayoral and other candidates other than the ward candidates are as follows: We want residents to have the opportunity to listen to the candidates who will be representing them at Council. Ward 1 has 11 candidates running for election – do you think it would be beneficial to add a minimum of 4 more candidates to the mix? This debate would have to be 4 hours long to accommodate everyone.

    Running for election is hard work and ECoB felt it unfair to ask the mayoral candidates to be involved in 6 all candidate ward debates plus a Mayoral debate. The ward candidates deserve their own debate time to reach out to the voters in their ward.

    There is a mayoral candidate debate on October 9th at Burlington Central High School where residents will have the opportunity to listen and question those candidates running for election.

    Burlington Green is having an all candidate debate on October 3rd at Nuvo Network (formerly Crossroads Centre), 1295 North Service Road. All 63 candidates were invited to attend. As a Mayoral Candidate you will have the opportunity to be part of the mayoral debate ( 4 candidates). The other ward candidates will not be debating.

    It is simply not feasible to have large numbers of candidates participating in a debate where residents want an opportunity not only to listen but would like answers to the issues in their wards.

    • I gave EcoB a pass on Ward 1 and Ward 2 do to the large number of candidates.

      “ECoB felt it unfair to ask the mayoral candidates to be involved in 6 all candidate ward debates plus a Mayoral debate.”

      That is just gibberish. Seven, Two hour events spread over 2 months? Candidates go on endlessly about the passion they have for “engaging the public” – make them prove it.

      I think “All Candidates meeting” – with all the candidates in the Wards centered on Ward issues are very valuable.

      Any group that wants to put these together with the Mayors, Chairs and Councilors will find a full house and the incumbents showing up.

      The Mayors vote is no different than the Councilors vote – they should be in the wards as well.

  • steven craig gardner

    I kind of understand the ECOB issue as that it me is a protest group agaiinst most of current council a number of whose members are running in the election so it does kind of smell of conflict of interest, but so long as they just pick the venues and dates and have no role in the debate ie don’t pack the hall with their supporters like a TRUMP rally should not be an issue for any candidate. As for Mark Carr I agree never seen him to have any bias at all. As for comments about 8 years being indefensible i that was entirely true folks would have moved out long ago or done something last election. Burlington is still an amazing place to live and has been over past 8 years with mostly amazingly friendly and generous people. I would much more fear the next 4 years of Doufg Ford than I would 4 more years of the current council. Also I do believe Burlington needs some change we can’t stay as we are. The question is how much change and where not if.

    • Stephen White

      If ECoB were officially endorsing candidates then there would be some justification to an allegation of conflict of interest. I haven’t seen any indication they are. If the incumbents don’t like the fact that angry citizens come to meetings asking difficult and tough questions while demanding answers and asking incumbents to justify their previous voting decisions then it presupposes the obvious question: why bother running for re-election if you don’t have the courage to defend your past decisions? Just because you don’t like the event sponsor isn’t, in and of itself, justification to “blow them off”.

      There is no logical reason why we can’t adopt term limits. However, Councillors won’t adopt term limits because it isn’t in their personal self-interest to do so. It’s a nice gig, pays well, and comes with lots of nice perques. That is why why they stick around so long and well past their best before date.

      And yes Steve…we all know that times change. But it isn’t just about how much and where. It is also about when, and who has the deciding voice in how that change occurs. So, maybe if the Planning Department, the Mayor, this Council, and the minions at City Hall had been a little more responsive and reflective during the OP and Mobility Hubs debates, including actually listening to and heeding public input, then perhaps we might not all be at loggerheads right now.

  • Hans

    Re: “Why is it that the incumbents don’t want to defends (sic) what they have done for the past eight years?”
    Probably because it can’t be done; i.e., the last 8 years are indefensible.

  • rob n

    It would be good to know when these debates will be.

    There is nothing (that I could find) on the ECoB website. https://engagedburlington.ca/

    The last facebook update is June 6, 2018. That’s 3 months without an update! https://www.facebook.com/ECOBurlington/

    Seems to be a lack of communication… or they don’t want to engage the community, which is contrary to their name!!

    The lack of effort to communicate comes across like they just don’t care. And if they don’t care, I can see why the current councillors would want to pass. And why should we care?

  • Stephen White

    I have known Mark Carr for over twenty years when I first worked on his brother’s re-election campaign in 1995. He is a decent, sincere and honest guy, and does a great job as moderator whether on Cogeco or at other public forums. To use his previous candidacy as the basis for questioning his credibility or impartiality is both petty and small.

    Whether it is ECoB, the University Women’s Club or the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, the sponsor of a candidate’s debate is not the issue. Politicians, whether incumbents or challengers, should use these forums as an opportunity to engage the public and present their views. During the recent provincial election the Burlington Chamber sponsored a candidate’s debate. Andrew Drummond, the NDP candidate, came to the meeting and presented his views in a very positive, professional and articulate manner. A professional business association isn’t natural turf for the NDP, but that didn’t stop Mr. Drummond from using the meeting to expound his views and those of his Party. Mr. Drummond garnered a whole lot of respect from people in the room, even among those who may not have supported him. That’s what you call a “class act”.

    This may turn out to be a defining moment in the campaign. As a candidate you either believe in public engagement or you don’t. You either have the courage of your convictions, or you don’t. You either believe in openness, transparency and dialogue, or you don’t. And ultimately, it will be Burlington voters who decide whether those who don’t engage, don’t participate or don’t communicate warrant our trust and another four years in office….or they don’t!

    • I agree with you Steve. Though EcoB is hardly a neutral organization in terms of policy – it’s hard to see how they can “fix” a debate with a neutral moderator and 200 people in the room. Not to say they are trying to do that, just that it’s a relatively safe thing to go to as an incumbent.

      I’ve always been in favour of all candidates meetings with the Mayors and Councilors and Char candidates all in one room. You learn as much from seeing them interact with each other as anything else.

      If some intrepid soul wants to put together a debate with all the Mayor and Chair candidates – I suspect Sharman and Dennison will come out for that. I will come if invited.

      We really need events with everyone in the room.

    • Carrie

      Thank you Stephen, well said.

  • I’ve been suggesting for months that they should include the Mayor candidates in these debates with few councillors. This would instantly give them the size and credibility that would draw in the Ward incumbents and is consistent with EcoBs stated mission. I’ve never gotten any credible reason as to why this can’t be done. The result is this – events where it’s easy and possibly actually politically smart for these councillors to stay away.