Vicky Smallman
Shaping Kitchissippi With You

2006 Ottawa Municipal Election
Ottawa Council • Ward 15

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Candidates thin, drama thickens

NewsWest, Pg. 12 - Aug 31st, 2006
Maureen Keenan

The Clash's 1982 hit Should I Stay or Should I Go Now could be a suitable theme song for this year's municipal election in Kitchissippi ward.

Unlike many wards in the city where the slate of candidates is short, Kitchissippi – until recently – had the distinction of having the widest choice of candidates registered for the Nov. 13 election. While plenty of choice would normally be considered positive, the profusion, of candidates is causing voters more consternation than celebration.

For Daniel Stringer, the wide choice of candidates and the sentiments of ward residents convinced him to pull out of the race. "Me electorate of Kitchissippi is angry and frustrated that the large number of candidates will split the vote and the incumbent will once more get elected with a small percentage of the vote." Incumbent Shawn Little was elected in the 2003 election with 27 per cent of the vote from a slate of six candidates, narrowly defeating his closest rivals.

A discussion with 2003 runner-up Kris Klein convinced Stringer (who garnered 10 per cent of the vote in the previous election) that, for the sake of the ward, he should pull out of the race and throw his support behind one candidate. "If there are six people running in an election there is only one thing that is certain... five are going to lose. But if you talk to those six candidates, they all think the other five are the ones who are going to lose. So the candidate is the least in touch with reality... What has got to happen is that one candidate withdraws in favour of another. It is the only solution [that will lead to the defeat of the incumbent]."

Stringer pulled out in early August and has thrown his support behind second-time candidate Gary Ludington, citing his years of community involvement and his showing in the previous election. Ludington finished just behind Klein with 21 percent of the vote. With Klein not running in this election Stringer says Ludington "is the natural one for us to coalesce around" as he considers him the front-runner of the opposition candidates.

Stringer has gone farther than striking his name from the list and supporting another candidate: He has invited first-time candidates Christine Leadman and Vicky Smallman to do the same. Their reaction (as well as that of latecomer Daniel Narwa) is that Stringer is entitled to his opinion but that they are committed to staying in the race.

Leadman calls Stringer's suggestion "ludicrous" and says that she thinks it is the calibre of the candidate that will determine where people place their vote.

Smallman states that if there was a candidate in the last election that she felt she could have rallied behind she wouldn't have registered in the first place. "I felt that [the candidates who have run previously] have had their opportunity. Someone should have been able to defeat Shawn [Little] in the last election." She adds that she is not particularly worried about the vote split and she doesn't get the sense that there is as much anxiety about it as Stringer thinks there is. She says that the decision about who the next councillor is should be left up to the voters of Kitchissippi.

Narwa, on the other hand, admits that vote splitting is a concern but that it is not something the candidates have control over. "Let the best man or woman win," he says.

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