For September 2022, the Rose City Politics panel asks Biz X readers if they know who they are voting for and why? With the municipal election next month (October 24, 2022), now is the time to take stock of the candidates and issues before you head to the polls.

Jon Liedtke

Jon Liedtke

Windsor has a municipal election shaping up to be not only exciting, with numerous candidates, some with diverse ideologies and backgrounds, but also complemented by a mayoral race, which actually matters.

In total, there are 49 candidates vying for council seats, and just seven for mayoralty.

Every incumbent has declared his/her intention to run again, with the exception of Rino Bortolin in Ward 3 who declared he’s out.

Mayor Drew Dilkens registered the week before the official deadline of August 19, but he’s been arguably campaigning for the past number of months, whether it be with the continued use of his podium, the funding announcement criticism on mayoral candidate Chris Holt, or the tax-bill insert faux pas. Regardless of how many pronouncements he made suggesting he wasn’t campaigning and didn’t even know if he’d run, many council watchers correctly bet that he would.

Holt made an impressive start with sophisticated campaign operations rolled out at the outset, as well as a signature policy plank, which pushed Dilkens to use his office to criticize prior to declaration; demonstrating a lack of integrity and ethics, if not the waste, or worse, abuse, of taxpayer dollars. If Holt remains steady, the city will have its first mayoral race in earnest in years.

Many council candidates, specifically in Wards 3, 4 and 5 appear to vie for the same progressive votes, which could allow an ideologically opposed candidate to split them and win.

There are also candidates who’ve made troubling statements either expressing support for the Ambassador Bridge Blockade, anti-vaccination, or even tacitly endorsing transphobic hatred and harassment; none of which is good.

Voters need to properly assess who is seeking their vote and who they plan on providing their vote to.

Those who are elected should set to implement Windsor Works as well as our master plans that continue to collect dust on municipal shelves, wasting the tax dollars of residents’ past who spent their hard earned money on policies that languish in obscurity.

Following the improper and egregious dismissal of CAO Jason Reynar and the expected exit of acting-CAO Onorio Colucci, council must hire a new CAO and should consider Reynar when doing so, especially considering he’s expressed an interest in returning.

The ballot question this year is status quo versus better.

We know what the status quo brings — low tax-increases or “holding the line” on taxes which underfunds the budget by not at the very least keeping to inflation, a level residents expect their city to provide.

We haven’t tried to do anything beyond the status quo for years, and it’s time for change. We don’t need risk, but we don’t need to only elect a council that seeks its own re-electoral prospects through policy decisions.

Windsorites, this is the election where change is possible.

What do you want Windsor to look like next year, in five years, 10 years? Which candidates best align with your priorities? Do you want the status quo for, at the very least, the next four years?

These are the questions voters must ask before casting a ballot that will decide the immediate to long-term future of the city in which we all live and reside.

It’s your choice, and there are no wrong answers.

Jon Liedtkeis a fill-in on-air host for AM800 CKLW, Co-host and Producer of Rose City Politics, a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists and SAG-AFTRA, and plays trumpet in Windsor’s The Nefidovs.

Doug Sartori

Doug Sartori

Windsor’s municipal election campaign is in full swing this month.

We can now have the first truly competitive Mayor’s race since 2006 and a host of hotly-contested ward seats. Holt represents the strongest challenge Dilkens has faced in his career as an elected official.

This is good news for Windsor, whether you support the Mayor or not. An engaging race at the top of the ballot should increase interest and drive higher voter turnout.

In Wards 3 and 4 candidates are pouring in to contest open seats. In Wards 5 and 7 candidates perceived to be vulnerable are also facing a growing number of challengers. In all these cases, a large pool of candidates poses a problem.

In an open seat, a long list of candidates makes it difficult for any one candidate to secure a majority. We could see a candidate win with less than 30% of the vote, as Paul Borrelli and Jim Morrison did in Ward 10, in 2014 and 2018 respectively. Poor outcomes become more likely when the vote is split every which way.

Ironically, a weak incumbent is protected when their weakness, real or perceived, motivates many candidates to enter the ward race. Incumbent name recognition and voter confusion can cause vote splits resulting in victory for an unpopular incumbent.

Ranked ballots can ensure that a consensus candidate would win races like these, but that option was killed for municipalities by the Doug Ford government in the previous term, and Windsor never seriously considered adopting it anyway.

The only solution available is for voters to educate themselves and cast a strategic vote for their desired outcome, which might not be the same as their favourite candidate.

It won’t be easy, though — the state of local media being what it is, we’re not likely to see the depth of coverage of ward races we’ve seen in the past.

It’s down to residents to do their best to learn about their options, and for campaigns to engage them as much as possible.

My advice to all candidates is this: nothing beats a face-to-face conversation.

The more work you do to engage residents directly, the more likely they are to understand who you are and where you’re coming from.

Earned media, social media, and word of mouth all matter in any election but in a race as intimate as a city ward, it’s the personal touch that counts the most.

Doug Sartori is a political observer and organizer. When he’s not recording podcasts or getting people out to vote he runs Parallel 42 Systems, a technology consultancy firm in downtown Windsor.

This article first appeared on Biz X Magazine


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