Vicky Smallman
Shaping Kitchissippi With You

2006 Ottawa Municipal Election
Ottawa Council • Ward 15

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More the merrier

Ottawa Sun, Pg. 19 - Aug 9th, 2006

The decision of one Kitchissippi ward candidate to withdraw from this fall's municipal elections should have alarm bells ringing for democracy-watchers everywhere.

On Monday, Daniel Stringer said he was backing out of the race for councillor in the west-end ward because he feared vote-splitting among a relatively large slate of candidates would put incumbent Shawn Little back in the driver's seat.

In the 2003 municipal elections, among seven candidates, Little won with only 27% of the popular vote.

"People are extremely frustrated and angry that there is no mechanism that will eliminate vote splitting so that the incumbent gets re-elected with a tiny percentage of the vote," said Stringer.

Voters in the hotly contested ward of Kitchissippi should be anything but frustrated and angry. They should be ecstatic that there are currently five candidates all vying for their vote and sparking debate on any number of issues important to the community and its residents.

It's voters in wards such as Orleans, Innes, Barrhaven and Gloucester-Southgate, where only one candidate is currently running, who should be frustrated and angry. Several other wards boast only two candidates at this point, little more than six weeks before the nomination deadline closes.

How does this paucity of selection serve voters? It doesn't. With so few candidates, the election process in these unfortunate wards will lack democratic debate and discussion.

Municipal elections are arguably the most important for any voter. Our city officials are the ones with direct control over garbage pick-up, community policing, road maintenance and a host of other daily, in-your-face issues.

Sure, voting for higher levels of government is important, but when it comes to having a say in matters near and dear, you can't beat municipal elections.

As for Kitchissippi ward, if an allegedly unpopular incumbent is continuing to win out over a large slate of alternatives -- even by the slimmest of margins -- then it would seem other candidates have failed to make their case.

Vote-splitting may be a small weakness of the wondrous system called democracy, but fewer candidates is not the answer.

"The candidates that are currently running each offer some fairly unique qualities and it's up to the voters to decide who their councillor is," says Kitchissippi candidate Vicky Smallman.


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