First of all, this isn’t to say that any of our five Downtown councillors are doing a poor job or a good job representing their constituents and serving our city. But here’s the truth: It’s almost impossible for an ordinary, well-intentioned Downtown citizen to have a fair chance at becoming a city councillor and bringing fresh thoughts into the mix at city hall. Sitting councillors have immense advantages when it comes to getting their names and faces in the local papers and on television. They have name recognition, which is the best currency you can keep in your election wallet.
You are helping fund your prospective opponent’s campaign by paying city taxes because councillors get to spend your money promoting their names in official publications they can mail to constituents as information packages. It’s an uphill battle and the citizens of Toronto are not well served by it no matter how good their individual ward councillors might happen to be.
Councillors have as near to a guaranteed job for life as it gets. And the pay, as it should be, is quite enticing. The idea is that good people shouldn’t be distracted from public office because of pauper wages.
Without some name-and-face time in front of the public, your chances of even winning enough votes to get back your campaign deposit are slim. And that puts a lot of good potential candidates out of the running.
A very unwise provincial government under Dalton McGuinty has exacerbated the dearth of Local Democracy by allowing municipal councillors to sit for an extra year, extending the term to a drawn-out four years.
In the furtherance of Local Democracy, The Bulletin’s publisher Paulette Touby has instructed staff to enable potential candidates in the five Downtown wards where The Bulletin is mailed to become known to the 130,000 readers of this community newspaper. It’s not as intensive as the exposure that sitting councillors receive, but it enables those with ideas to get them across to prospective voters from December until the start of the next municipal election campaign.
To this end, The Bulletin will make space available on our website and in our pages to as many serious prospective candidates as possible and on an ongoing basis. We’ll publicize your photos and ideas throughout the runup to the municipal election campaign.
We’ll try not to judge individuals, but frivolous, limited-issue or far-out candidates won’t be included in this. We also won’t accept persons who attack sitting councillors, no matter how worthily it’s done, because that would require equal time for fair rebuttal and the purpose of this is to expose new people and possibilities to voters.
If a prospective candidate has a different idea to bring to an existing but unsatisfactory solution or practice, the strategy must be to present the new idea without mentioning the problem. That’s what politics is often about so it’s good to get the practice right away. The Bulletin’s editorial staff will have the final determination and will attempt to be as fair as humanly possible. There is no limit on the number of monthly editions of The Bulletin in which those who seriously consider becoming candidates can be featured.
Your entries should be concise and well crafted. The voting public will be watching. As official campaign time nears, The Bulletin intends them to hear as well as see since we plan to include videos on our website later on.
Starting with the December issue, with a deadline of Nov. 20, potential candidates should email their photos and information to LocalDemocracy@thebulletin.ca. The 20th of each month will be the deadline for the next month’s edition.
Only potential candidates from the following wards are eligible: 19, 20, 27, 28, 30.
If you’re one, we encourage you to participate. Or if you know somebody whom you think should be a candidate, encourage that person to participate.