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Opinion: Bill Walton, Aligning the Vote

Too many good choices
20220926 pigs walton

With only weeks until the municipal election, I am still crossing off names and then rubbing out the cross-offs. Reading and trying to analyze the platforms requires not only degrees in psychology, sociology, and astrology but a whole shaker of salt. Taking these promises with a single grain of salt just doesn’t cut it.

The problem lies in selecting a group of potential councillors who can work with each other. In elections past, there were sometimes a ‘block’ of candidates and a person could jump into that lifeboat and hope for the best. It worked a few times but more often than not the lifeboat crew ended up paddling in opposite directions. Much depended on who was the Captain and his or her idea of where the ship of the city was headed.

If there were a block or slate of candidates to choose from, that selection is confused by so many similar promises of transparency, growing the city, looking after the homeless, fixing (again) the downtown, and begging someone to look after the drug/opioid problem. So far only two candidates are advertising that they are a block or slate: a father and daughter combo. I am just not sure which one will be pulling the strings when they vote on issues. Can I split my vote or must I tick off both? Or cross off both?

Further complicating my decision is how the councillors I select will work with the new mayor. Because that does make a difference, particularly when the two leading candidates (informal polling) have platforms that point in different directions on some issues. Reading the mayoral platforms was enlightening if not downright entertaining. Entertaining if you were a fly on the wall at senior staff meetings these next weeks.

Back in the day, and this is going back over 20 years, it was interesting to listen to the predictions of senior management on who was going to win seats or the mayor’s office. The department heads all had their wishes on who would win as they had to work with the council for the next years. Fortunately for the citizens of the city, employees only had one vote, or we might have had some easily influenced people on the staff strings.

That was not the case the year we elected a whole gaggle of lawyers to council. There was a fear that every issue would be argued to death before the City Clerk but once they all agreed on the interpretation of Robert’s Rules things went very well. One does wonder if the current council were too aware of Judge Valin’s term on council . . .

Thinking about this first try at online voting one must wonder if there are going to be any hiccups. There must be at least one Trump-denier who is going to claim they won when they did not. Not unlike the first year, we used the punch cards with their inevitable ‘chaff’ problems and we recounted well into the morning before declaring the winners.  Some wondered how Canadore ran the system the previous election without the chaff problems but that is another election story best forgotten.

And yes, it was true that Mayor Merle Dickerson had his own ideas about voting in elections. All you had to do was mark an ‘X’ beside the name starting with a ‘D’. Sparkling Duck or Catawba?

No doubt with the electronic ballot counting we will know the results a few minutes after the polls close. Somehow the old days of watching the results come in poll-by-poll seemed more exciting but maybe there won’t be a close race between those 29 candidates for council and 3 mayoral choices.

Now if I could get interested in the School Board election. It’s just 12% of the tax bill and they are only educating the next generation. Just saying.

Bill Walton

About the Author: Bill Walton

retired from City of North Bay in 2000writer, poet, columnist
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