#LdnOnt’s 2018 Mayoral Race: What We Know

The truth is at this point in time this article could (and likely should) be two words long. Not much.

Which if you think about it makes sense. The first day that nominations can be filed for the 2018 Municipal Election is not until May 1, 2018. So normally we’d all be not thinking about this for at least another 59 days. Of course, little about the upcoming election is likely going to be normal - at least if what we’ve seen so far is any indication. 

For starters, there has been revised ward boundaries which does change the existing wards - however this will likely not have much of a impact as they come into effect following the 2018 Municipal Election on October 22, 2018. Still, it’s worth mentioning. Almost certainly of more importance is the fact that we will be using ranked ballots. Currently Ontario has 444 municipalities yet only 3 are considering or have considered ranked ballot voting. And only one has decided to give it a shot. That’s right - London, Ontario is the first municipality in Canada to practice ranked ballot voting instead of the traditional first past the post system. I’m on record as saying, and still believe that this is going to result in a LOT more candidates than previous elections. You see, in previous years like-minded people might choose to sit down in advance and decide which one of them would run in order to avoid vote splitting. With that obstacle eliminated (or at least minimized) it seems likely to me that more people will run. Especially for the Mayor’s seat. So let’s get down to it. I’m sure this will be on ongoing area of interest for me and I hope to discuss the ward races once more is known but I’m interested in having this discussion about the mayoral race not insomuch that I’m intrigued less by who we know is currently running, but by those that are not running.

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When it comes to discussing the mayoral candidates I guess it’s only fair to start with the person who is currently doing the job. In terms of full self-disclosure I do consider his a friend. Matt Brown has publicly stated he intends to run for re-election and I’ve no reason to suspect this will change. While other clearly disagree I actually think he’s done a pretty good job as our Mayor - and as a councillor prior to that actually. If the election were to be held today there is little question that I’d vote for him but as you see as you continue reading that’s not exactly saying a lot. There are, at least as I have seen so far, two main complaints about his tenure so far - or at least are related to these categories:

1) He had an extramarital affair: This is both true and valid. He admitted to as much as did the Ward 5 councillor who was also involved. There’s little question that this will be a deal-breaker for some, but I am not amongst them. It’s embarrassing and unfortunate but does not reflect on his ability to do his job as far as I’m concerned. I will say that there is little doubt it has resulted is some awkward meetings, although likely less so over time. As a side note while many current councillors appear to be leaning towards not throwing their hat in the rain this fall I’ve been led to believe that Maureen Cassidy will in fact be running again. I felly understand why his opponents will be eager to remind voters of this incident but wonder how much people will truly care.

2) He is a weak leader who does little more than attend ribbon cuttings: This argument I’m less apt to buy into. Matt is by no means loud and combative - but I question those being positive traits in a leader. I suppose he could be more inspiring on occasion but he seems to encourage both open discussion and debate around the horseshoe and we could certainly do far worse. And have in the past. In regards to cutting ribbons, I personally would have far more issue with a mayor who wasn’t attending community events.

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Which brings us to the Pauls, Cheng and Paolatto. I won’t say too much here as I believe they deserve their own dedicated post at some point. (Working title: A-PAUL-ING!) While it’s certainly possible they’re nice guys based on their actions so far I’m increasingly skeptical. Both announced their intentions to run for  mayor FAR in advance and I’m of the opinion that anything they’ve done since should be considered campaigning. Whether or not anyone else agrees with me will have to remain to be seen. For now. The main thing to consider for now is why anyone would want someone to lead the city that has shown such blatant disregard for the Municipal Elections Act - or the the very least has tried to some as close to the border of breaking the rules as legally possible? I hardly need to remind you that it wasn’t so long ago we’ve had experience with at least one who liked to work the system. How did that work out for us. I suspect my most ardent campaigning in the coming year will be for the ABP platform: 

Anyone But (the) Paul(s).

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Let’s move on. As I eluded to earlier, perhaps what I spend the most time thinking about this mayoral race as of late is not the candidates we have, but those we don’t. Keep in mind that anything from here forward (and likely some stuff above) is not based on confirmed facts but mainly hearsay, rumours and personal speculation. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the people we will NOT be voting for as mayor in the upcoming election:

Mohamed Salih: When you’re looking for people to run for Mayor the obvious starting point is amongst their current peers. Anyone who knows and/or has spend anytime around Mo knows that he is a great guy and there is little doubt he is loved locally. He recently won an award, chosen by popular vote, as London’s favourite politician. There was even some social media campaign to encourage him to run for Mayor - one that is likely ongoing. I’d be proud to vote for and be represented by Mo, which is why I was disappointed to recently hear that he was leaning towards not running. I’ve long suspected that he might eventually choose to move to provincial or federal politics and if so than I guess we could benefit from his representation there. That being said, if that his intention it is possible he might decide not to even run again in Ward 3. Of course, we’ve previously had councillors take a hiatus from their councillor duties to run another campaign but clearly that is not ideal and certainly not my preference. Not that I actually have a say in the matter.

Michelle Baldwin: I’ve actually met with Michelle a couple of times over the last few months in regards to unrelated matters but can confirm she was giving serious and prolonged thought to running for Mayor. Although I now tend to believe she has decided against it. Another shame as while there is no way of telling of the campaign would have been successful but it hard to imagine another candidate emerging that I would have voted for over her. That being said, I know Michelle both enjoys and excels at her position as the Executive Director of the Pillar Nonprofit Network so it’s entirely possible this ends up being a net win for the community.

Phil Squire: I actually have no idea is this one was really ever close but this Ward 6 councillor was one I thought might decide to take a run at it, although I’ve little doubt he’ll once again put his name name forward to once again serve his constituents in his current role. Phil and I certainly have differing political opinions but I have always appreciated his work ethic, genuine personality and sense of humour. While perhaps not exactly geographically, there is some argument to made that with the impending BRT his ward will be at the front and centre of the upcoming election season.

Josh Morgan: This councillor is knowledgeable, sociable and well-liked. I believe he also would have made a good mayor but suspect Ward 7 will be delighted and relieved if he does in fact decide to once again run to represent them in council. With high levels of civic engagement and a clear passion for our city there is still hope that Josh may choose to make a run for the centre square and some future election.

And there you have it. While there is little doubt there will be a LOT more candidates that we’ll hear about in a couple of months my hope is that there is at least one true contender that I could vote for. Ideally not male, pale and stale and someone with experience, the abilities to both talk and listen effectively, one that plays well with others and one that can inspire. Whether or not such a person exists  and actually has any interest I have no idea. If you know such a person I do urge you to ask them to consider it though. I’m even happy to ask them myself if you think it will help, which it likely won’t.


A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. - Lao Tzu