All the candidates have filed their nomination papers for the civic election and we are away to the races.
Along with a downtown arena, the closure of the airport, sustainability and holding the line on taxes, we are going to hear a lot about voter apathy and whether or not there will be a larger turnout for this election than the last time around.
Voter apathy is a term that describes something that bears no relationship whatsoever to reality. Voters aren’t apathetic in Edmonton; they’re disengaged from civic politics. And that should come as no surprise to anyone. Given the complete lack of accountability of either our city councillors or the civic administration, why should the good people of Edmonton be particularly interested in who they elect? In the end, it really doesn’t matter one whit.
Accountability is an important concept. It says you will take responsibility for your actions or inactions and their consequences. Nice idea, but when was the last time a councillor stepped down because they were unable to deliver on election promises? When was the last time a councillor committed to doing something they could actually do? And when was the last time a senior person in the civic administration was turfed for the demonstrable incompetence either of themselves or their staff?
Maybe we should get to vote for the administration since it appears to be the real force behind what happens and doesn’t happen in Edmonton. Our civic administration is often characterized by obfuscation, obscurantism and obstinacy when it comes to responding to the real desires of Edmontonians and their elected officials. In Edmonton, the tail wags the dog.
This civic election will probably end up being capital “D” dull. There’s no real sense of direction or vision for the city and it shows in the campaign literature of virtually everyone who is running. Our current mayor is likely to be elected again on the platform that the last time he promised “Edmonton would act, think, and behave like a Capital City again.” Again? I wonder how one measures those things? Is there some kind of capital city characteristics index?
One can only hope against hope that this election won’t be as dull as Mandel’s slogan: “Open. Decisive. Fair” What on Earth does that mean? It may as well say he is neat, clean and tidy as well.
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