Saturday, November 15, 2008

Podunkians to the Polls November 2008

Sometime on Saturday evening Prince Rupert residents will learn the names of the successful candidates for Mayor, council and school board for 2008.

The campaign which seemed to begin immediately following the Federal election of October, has flown a bit under the radar this time around. The candidate forums seemed to get thrown together at the last moment, with two different options for interested voters to take in. A chance to get a quick glimpse of the candidates, but not to gain any real in depth examination of where they stood on many of the issues of the day.

The Mayoralty campaign hasn't been quite as entertaining as those in the past years have provided, perhaps due to the departure of the incumbent Herb Pond, who certainly had a way of generating attention to his campaigns that neither of the current candidates can match.

It may, in a way offer up an indication that a new era in the top office is at hand, a less flashy and hands on approach to governance, and instead more of a return to the era of consultation and consensus.

There really haven't been any burning issues to take flight either, the late summer drama of the city's hiring practices in the upper offices while an undercurrent of the campaign, never became it's main focus. Though it did spawn the entry of a few new faces to the municipal scene.

Perhaps the lacklustre approach to the election from the public is more a case of voter fatigue after a federal election which saw some of the lowest voter turn outs in history, it will be with interest to learn the voter tallies on Saturday and whether that sense of weariness of voting carries through to the municipal scene.

For a final bit of cramming before your final exam on civics 101, we offer up some resources for Podunkians to examine prior to heading for the polls.

If voters were to consider their candidates purely by attendance, then Saturday would be a big day for Tony Briglio and a disappointing one for Kathy Bedard. Over the course of the 2008 council session season, Mr. Briglio had perfect attendance participating in all 18 regular sessions that were held (there were supposed to be 19, but the session of March 25, 2008 was cancelled as there was no quorum available and no explanation ever offered publicly as to why).
At the other end of the scale, Ms. Bedard was only available for 13 of those 18 sessions. If this were your childrens elementary school roll call, Mr. Briglio would get the gold star for attendance, Ms. Bedard the letter home from the principals office.

You can track all of the incumbent candidates attendance, as well as the minutes and Daily News scorecards when available of those sessions from this link.

The developments of council of course normally make up a good portion of the local news cycle in the community, and a quick reference point of what news was made in 2008 can be found from our Podunk Below the Masthead feature, which highlights the front page story of the Daily News from the last year, you can go through the archives of those stories here.

And finally, we have kept a running archive of the key election stories from the local scene since the campaigning began to move forward. You can track those from our link provided here.

By far the most disappointed group in the city with the arrival of election day will be the Prince Rupert media. The local newspapers for the most part have had a rather healthy burst of advertising revenue over the last few weeks, culminating in Friday's Daily News and it's full edition of electoral ads dominating almost each and every page and offering up the final glimpses into the candidates ambitions and ideas.

Both local papers have provided a fair amount of coverage to the municipal election, with the Northern View offering up the best on line record of events with a well maintained website portal to go with their weekly door to door delivered paper.

The Daily News seemed to be a little slower out of the gate on the election, but managed to hit their stride in the last week with some extensive features on the Mayoralty, council and school board elections. The only drawback to their coverage being the limitations of their website and its lack of archival opportunities for past issues of interest.

With the days of campaigning now over, all that is left is for the voters to have their say.

Will there be an overwhelming desire for change on council with incumbents heading off to the poltical sunset, or a wholesale changing of the guard with all new representatives elected to office? Or will there be the usual mixture of veteran holdovers, combined with fresh new faces with new ideas ready to once again try and manage the city's operations in trying times?

The list of candidates features the familiar and the new, incumbents who have served a good number of terms in office up against some names that have been trying to gain a seat in council chambers for a number of years now. Then there are the others that have come to the political process in a sense of frustration, offering up their ideas for a change at the way that the business as usual scenario has played out over the last few years.

How they all have presented their ideas over the last month will tell how the election results shall reveal themselves to us.

The sense we have of the city council campaign is that there will be a changing of the guard to a degree on this years council, with at least three and maybe four incumbents falling out of favour. They will give way to those candidates who have best navigated the current for a changing of the ways that the city is governed.

The Mayoralty race will offer up another too close to call kind of finish, with both candidates having staked out their ground during the campaign and looking back at when they last held the office. Yet at the same time, offering up a much different approach to running the city than what we have experienced in the last few years. In the end, it will come down to who the voters feel the most comfortable with and who best lines up with their thoughts on how the city should be run for the next three years.

Residents who wish to, can follow the vote count from their homes, CityWest subscribers can pick up the latest results by watching cable ten on Saturday night. For those that prefer their television from a satelite provider, the option is to head to your computer where it's planned that the results will be posted on the city's website.

After what seems like a non stop political season since Labour Day, we have but one more obligation to the political process to take part in, the one election that actually has the most impact on your day to day living. After Saturday we have a respite at least until May and the provincial election, offering us a chance to clear our heads of politics and to rest up before we have to engage in the process once again.

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