Elections are a violent, emotional roller-coaster for every die-hard politician — and municipal elections are no exception. As political junkies, our deepest, darkest desire is to be able to tell the future — preferably before everyone else. While this often seems possible in the day-to-day of the political world, elections create a chaos that serves only to send us raving and foaming into the streets, babbling madly about potential voters and public perceptions and all manner of meaningless gibberish in the hopes of landing a lucky guess.
Getting right into the spirit of things, let’s check in with Victoria.
For starters, incumbents make elections hard — they’ve been around longer, they’re in the news and clearly have a fairly stable support base to draw from. In ’08, three councillors dropped out of the race, forcing change on council by guaranteeing that at least three new pols would place ass to chair at city hall. New candidates aren’t as lucky this year, making unseating an incumbent problem number-one for even the strongest of challengers.
This doesn’t guarantee defeat for this election’s heavyweights. There is still a distinct possibility that Lisa Helps, Ben Isitt, or Shellie Gudgeon could knock an established candidate out of the council race. While these candidates have a leg up on some of the competition, they still face the uphill battle of low voter turnout and a lack of established citywide political support.
Adding still more complexity, it remains to be seen whether Open Victoria can successfully galvanize enough public opposition to city hall to secure one or more of its four relatively inexperienced candidates a seat in Pandora’s Box.
While Mayor Dean Fortin has caught a fair amount of flak over the course of his term — mostly for the city’s handling of the Johnson St. Bridge replacement project — this election is still his to lose. Fortin’s main challenger is Open Victoria’s favoured candidate Paul Brown, who has so far focused on discrediting the city’s financial management.
Ultimately, there are two ways this election can go. The smart money is on business as usual — all of the incumbents get back in and things plod merrily along until someone retires.
But hey! Where’s the fun in that? M