View Full Version : If you're running for council, stop mouthing platitudes

01-10-2007, 07:14 AM
If you're running for council, stop mouthing platitudes
Is it so hard for candidates to crack open a budget document and study the issues in depth?

Scott McKeen, The Edmonton Journal

Published: October 01, 2007 2:35 am
Civic election notebook 2007, Volume 3, Subset 2, a journalist's view from the fringes of democracy.

Subtitle: Voting in civic elections will tone your buns, rouse your spirits and improve your sex life.

- Improve your sex life? Here's my theory: Human beings suffer stress when there's unfinished business in their lives. It might be an unpaid debt, a half-completed job at work, or a lingering family squabble. Procrastinating or ignoring such issues causes stress to burble away in the background of the mind.

Voting, we all know, is a civic task, or duty. If you put off voting, you'll be anxious for another three years. And gentlemen, we all know what anxiety does to the love life.

- Thus, if you vote, you'll put lead in your pencil. And we all know what you mark a ballot with, eh? No, geez -- a real pencil. Clean thoughts, people, clean thoughts.

- Tone your buns? Simple. Just walk to and from the polling station, doing lunges with 20-pound weights strapped to your ankles. Hey, no one said democracy -- or buns of steel, for that matter -- was easy.

- You may have heard of Helmut Hinteregger. He's the mayor of Sturgeon County, future site of at least a handful of expected oil megaprojects. Hinteregger has been one of the most strident voices against the region sharing services, as well as the costs of and revenues from the oil boom.

Hinteregger is again running for mayor and promising "the creation of a Sturgeon County Legacy Reserve Fund so future generations will benefit from expected prosperity."

Let's be clear. The "future generations" he refers to will be the relative few living in Sturgeon County. The same ones who use St. Albert and Edmonton roads and facilities, without paying one dime of taxes towards them.

- Contrary to what you might hear from fringe candidates, I don't want to restrict the mayor's race to elitists. But I do want elite people -- men and women who stand above the pack in some way -- to run for mayor.

- Sad, but none of the mayoral candidates and few of the challengers for councillor meet the standard. Many strike me as people who don't get out much, who formed their opinions at a bar stool or kitchen table. Few of them understand the complexity of issues and instead mouth platitude after platitude about affordable housing, improved infrastructure and fiscal conservatism. Yawn.

- Is it too much to study up a bit before you take a stab at politics? Crack open a budget document, watch a few council meetings, read reports on civic finances from non-partisan groups like the Canada West Foundation.

Talk to "experts" in your community, like small-business operators, beat cops, community league presidents -- even the planning-department staff assigned to your ward. From this you might be able to come up with your own ideas for tackling the relentless and complex problems faced by cities the size of Edmonton.

- For the record, there are a good number of qualified and committed people in the ward races who are up on the issues. Ward 6 alone has three quality challengers: Amarjeet Sohi, Chinwe Okelu and Lori Jeffery-Heaney.

Ward 4 has Ben Henderson, Debbie Yeung and Lewis Cardinal. Incumbents Dave Thiele, Ward 6, and Ward 4's Jane Batty are being pushed hard.

I like Don Iveson in Ward 5, too, but he's in tough against Bryan Anderson and Mike Nickel. The same goes for Dave Loken in Ward 2, in an uphill battle against incumbents Kim Krushell and Ron Hayter.

Challengers Tony Caterina and Harvey Voogd are vying for Janice Melnychuk's vacant seat. The edge in experience goes to Voogd, who was Coun. Michael Phair's executive assistant for years. Caterina appears to be winning the sign battle, though.

- Yes, the mayor's race is a one-man affair. But the councillor elections, especially in Wards 3, 4 and 6 make this a compelling election -- and a damn fine reason to vote.

- And now, a confession. I screwed up one point in my Friday column about the TV production Fear Itself coming to Edmonton early next year. I said that Edmonton Film Commissioner Patti Tucker was scrambling for technical crew. Wrong. While Tucker is scrambling for indoor warehouse space, and while the necessary tradespeople for the production might be a challenge to find, she is not scrambling for technical crew. My most humble apology to Tucker.

[email protected]

The Edmonton Journal 2007


01-10-2007, 09:21 AM
...but the problem is, platitudes sell. Platitudes keep you balanced on that fence to get elected. It is much much much harder to pick a stance and hold fast to it, when you can say things like "fair" and "balanced" and " for all" and "equal" and "rights" and "you deserve"....

Yes, it would be refreshing to see more politicians be, well, less like politicians.

Sonic Death Monkey
01-10-2007, 09:41 AM
Scott, I think many of us would agree with you:

01-10-2007, 10:39 AM
Platitudes are the easy way to ride the fence. You can still research and create policies that ride the wave that is the political centre.