With only three days left before nominations close, there is now a real race for the mayor’s chair — which is much different than how the election was shaping up just one month ago.
In early August, in the absence of any major competition for the city’s top job, Mayor Mark Gerretsen looked to be a shoo-in for a second term. It’s difficult to unseat the incumbent and it seemed unlikely any current councillors would have contested Gerretsen for the mayor’s job.
Oftentimes in politics, parties or individuals are voted out of office, rather than their competition being voted in. There was no indication that Kingstonians viewed Mark Gerretsen’s time up as mayor. He would likely have won re-election with more than 50% of the vote, as he did in 2010.
Last month, it appeared the biggest race in the election might be in Williamsville District between incumbent councillor Jim Neill and former councillor Ed Smith. Neill defeated Smith by 197 votes in 2010. This time around, there are several district issues, including housing and the Memorial Centre property that will make for lively debates.
But the municipal election race changed last month from what seemed an unlikely source. MP Ted Hsu’s announcement that he wouldn’t seek re-election in the fall of 2015 created a politic chain reaction. Who knew Hsu’s announcement would have such a big impact?
Shortly after, it became clear Gerretsen would seek the federal Liberal nomination and end his bid for re-election. With Gerretsen stepping aside, incumbent councillors with mayoral aspiration began to surface. Within weeks, councillors Rick Downes, Dorthy Hector and Brian Paterson, as well as political newcomers Brenda Slomka and Scott Foster, crowded the ballot. Perhaps more will step forward before nominations close this Friday?
With such a diverse slate of candidates, voters should prepare themselves for thoughtful and interesting debates on what opportunities these mayoral hopefuls see for the Limestone City.
What started out as a quiet election race for mayor is looking to become quite lively. Credit MP Hsu with kicking this election season into high gear.
— The Whig-Standard