Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Municipal Election Postmortem

Well, it a couple of nights after the election. The signs are coming down and the campaign headquarters are emptying out, although I wonder if any of them were used much. Since I work downtown, I had opportunity to walk past Mark Littell's office and rarely did I see anyone in it. Yes there were people in on Saturday giving out balloons. Isabelle got one, she loved it.

I will say I did get out to vote and I actually voted for a candidate who won. I am so excited. It's wasn't the mayor. Not that I don't like the person who won, because talking to a number of people, they were very positive about him. I just decided to vote for another candidate because of he was honest about the South Side of Colborne and had a good plan for co-operation with the County and the Reserve.

I should also say something about the turn-out; 44%. I think we could have done a bit better now. I asked the question on Facebook, what else did people have to do besides voting. Was there socks that needed darning? Come on people, municipal politics and government affect us more then any other level. Remember, its the municipal government that picks up your garbage and shovels the snow on the roads. The Army will not come to Brantford to clear our streets, they are a bit busy right now. The Canadian Military is also going an incredible job in the roles they take. God Bless our men and women in uniform.

One of the interesting fact is the majority of the councillors are new to this Council. Six out of Ten are new, and of those six, three have never had elected office before. I think this could make Council very interesting because they will have nothing to do with the old Council. The local paper made mention that the veterans are ready to take leadership on the Council. Perhaps those four shouldn't be so quick to take the 'leadership' role, after all, a number of incumbents were down to defeat on Monday and so that tells me incumbency is not the best place to be, so be more concerned with being a Mentor, not a Leader in this next council. I suspect the electorate was in a very cranky mood on Monday and decided they wanted some fresh blood and fresh vision. The old council seemed to have become involved in a lot of things which were not in the best interest of the community, or it if was, the way it was done left a bad taste. For example, prior to the election it was pointed out that the South Side Colborne Task Force did not play by all the rules, plus many did feel that it attempted to steam roll through all the regulations and then demanded federal dollars. Of course it ignored all the conditions and now the citizens can have fun paying for it, well I suppose it will make things a lot easier now that they can see the river from the top of the slope. I'm sure it will be a pretty view one day, especially when we can watch all the erosion.

I do want to mention one candidate in particular, John Bradford. Let me say I do like John but I think he didn't run a good campaign. When he started to bring attention to the slander I wonder if some people didn't think it was an attempt to garner some sympathy. I'm not saying the anonymous letters didn't happen or the slanderous gossip, but so late into the campaign. I also wonder if it might have been better to quietly give the letters to the Police and let them deal with it, rather then bringing it forward. It is hard to say. Still I think his defeat was probably due to his early violation of the municipal code of conduct and his membership on the Task Force, which he was vice-chair that led to his demise.

Much could be said about the South Side of Colborne Street. I know some have wondered if they election had been held a year earlier if the buildings would still be standing? The problem is, although there is no concrete plan for the spot now, was there ever a concrete plan to revitalize the area? Yes they buildings were historic and if you look past the entire "Silent Hill" thing they were very attractive, but what was in place. Now of course, it's too late for the buildings. But it's not too late to put a plan in place that will revitalize the downtown. Now that's a word bandied about.

I notice Chris Friel said:
We've got a lot to do," he said. "We're going to make Brantford a 21st-century city... We are going to open up government in Brantford, we are going to be a grass-roots, populist organization."

He said people from outside the city are going to notice big changes and ask, "What's happening here? They are going to want to be us."

Good because it seems Brantford has been a 20th Century city long enough, so much of what you see, from the demolition of buildings as being part of Urban Renewal to the growth of a cookie cutter suburb, aka West Brant speak of an era that is now coming to an end. The downtown needs a good mix of residential, retail and commercial. It needs industries that are for today. I think the University and College are a good part of the mix but from them must come spin-offs. I recall about a year ago Mohawk wanted the campus, or part of it downtown for their urban studies program- it was going to be a program that actively involved itself in solve the problems of downtown Brantford. Does this program still exist? Perhaps if anything good can come out of what is happening downtown is that it is now a clean slate- whether we like it or not. It's a slate in which new ideas, progressive ideas, ideas that respect the past, the present and future can be worked out.

I think the first thing needed for city hall is a whole lot of white boards, because Council needs to start brainstorming and coming up with ideas that will make this city a 21st Century city.

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