Another week, another Bay Ward candidate
It was only 12 short days ago that I mused about Ward 7 in Ottawa following the lead of Ward 7 in Toronto (What’s up with Bay Ward?). The story is about where an incumbent decides to run for mayor but then when it doesn’t look likely they can win, he jumps back into the ward race. I was half kidding when I wrote that because I believed that Alex Cullen was more than a politician who was in it for himself. I believed him when he said that it was “up or out” when he decided to seek the job of mayor.
To be fair, he has made no formal announcement yet as to his plans to run for re-election in Bay Ward so I hope he is still considering his options.
Here are my two cents:
Shifting from the mayor’s race to the ward race is short sighted, both for the ward and for Cullen himself.
First off, the ward has been served well under Cullen’s tenure for the most part but clearly times are changing and a new vision is needed. In the past year or so, we have seen crime rise in the ward to the level of national prominence given the recent terrorist arrests. And rising property taxes, bus fares and other service fees have spiralled in the last four years. Cullen has to accept part of the blame for this and realize his expertise needs to be placed somewhere else now.
The notion that he fears a “candidate who shall not be named” victory, that doesn’t say too much about the smarts of his former ward residents. They’re not smart enough to choose one of nine other official candidates but they are smart enough to vote for Cullen, himself. I don’t buy that. If Mr. Cullen really wants to guard against a wayward candidate’s victory, then Cullen should work for a candidate he believes will serve the ward well and encourage his supporters to support that candidate.
And secondly, running for councillor cuts off any chance of Cullen successfully running for any other level of government in the near term. He won’t be able to win a municipal election in October 2010 and then seek the nomination and then campaign for the NDP as its candidate less than a year after a municipal election. It would cost Ottawa taxpayers a by-election if he is then successful.
Yet, the 2011 provincial election holds the best hope in a long time for challengers to Liberal seats. Cullen would run against Yasir Naqvi in Ottawa Centre. Given the growing disdain for Dalton McGuinty and his Liberal government, even strong candidates like Naqvi are vulnerable and Cullen would be the natural alternative in that riding given its voting history. So if Cullen misses that opportunity to run for provincial politics, his window of opportunity maybe closed forever.
So my advise to Mr. Cullen is to stay in the Mayor’s race for all the reasons for which he decided to run in the first place. Failing that, use his free time campaigning for the candidate (or candidates in others wards) who he believes will breathe some fresh air into a stale council. With a record number of candidates running across the region, there are many good options he can back.
Therefore, I am urging Alex Cullen not to prove me right and not to turn an already chaotic ward race into a circus. Cullen is seen as a rather brilliant person. I hope he does not put that theory up for debate by entering the Bay Ward race and proving he is more short-sighted that brilliant.
Note: Blog title was suggested to me by Bay Ward candidate GJ Hagenaars