To The Editor:
I’d like to offer commentary on Nelson’s election, if I may; I was one of the candidates.
First, voter turnout: 55% isn't impressive. Nelson elections once had better turnout to polls. Toronto had only 40% in their election, but why go low for comparison?
Second, no councillor elected received 50% of the popular vote. Rik Logtenberg came closest, with 44%. This says to me that in a field of 19 candidates, it is nearly impossible to make such strong impression on voters that one can claim the clear approval of a majority. Elections push candidates to the middle, where they communicate sameness in their messages, making it too hard to distinguish one from another. (Rik won by virtue of a very vigorous campaign combining social media, door-knocking, lawn signs, buttons, ads in hard-copy newspapers and online; he demonstrated substantial financial resources.)
As for me, I’m content I did indeed contrast myself sharply to all other candidates, leading to my defeat. The electorate wants conventional campaign behaviour; I didn’t offer that. Speaking bluntly, about gross unfairness in market-system wealth distribution, and origins of climate change in practices of capitalist growth economics, didn’t generate ballot-box support for me. Voters chose candidates speaking blandly on specifics not in aggressive generalities. I was advised to be “more normal” in campaigning but I ignored that.
I spoke out, also, for Nelson citizens to keep close track of what candidates said they’d commit to do, and once the Councillors assume power, hold each to account for their well-intentioned platform during electoral campaigning.
Finally, the phenomenon of a “slate” or “party” – CORE – making no headway in Nelson, demands comment. CORE was a shambles as a slate; its candidates did not have harmony of views nor purpose. Cal Renwick (elected), like Mayor-elect Dooley and (defeated) Michelle Hillaby, made an anti-panhandling agenda explicit in the brand; Stephanie Wiggins, also CORE, wasn’t comfortable with that. Did CORE “lean right”? I thought so.
In conclusion: Thank-you, Nelson organizers -- for passions revealed in several excellent, stimulating, presentations (forums, journalism).
Charles Jeanes, Nelson, BC