Friday, August 22, 2008

Coffee with Chris Coleman

I had a coffee with Chris Coleman yesterday. The main topic of conversation was running for mayor, my main goal was to convince him to say yes and run.

Chris has not yet made up his mind, but is still very open to the idea. Our discussion focused on the reasons why he should run and why not. We also talked about his chances and what it will take to win in November in Victoria. The electoral math of a three way race was also under discussion.

Chris is very seriously considering a run. He had an agreement with Charlayne Thorton Joe that only one of them would run for mayor, so Charlayne's decision this week not to run opens the door for Chris to run.

Victoria needs a mayor that can make a team out of the council, that give us a local government that is much more than all of the individual members of a council. I firmly believe that Chris Coleman is the sort of person that can do this.

I am big supporter of the concept of Interest Based Negotiations. Most people take some time to understand the concept but when they do they understand it is the best way forward. It is a process that is hated by people with strong ideological positions because it focuses on achieving a good result for everyone and is not designed to deliver wins or losses for any ideological positions. I mention all this because Chris Coleman by nature works from the principles that underly interest based negotiations. This makes him a clear and obvious leader for a non-partisan approach to local governance. This makes him the best choice out there for mayor.

Would Chris be the best mayor Victoria has ever had? I can not say, but from my experience of mayors in this city, which goes back to Peter Pollen, he is clearly in a very different class than anyone before. There are past councilors that might have made good mayors that have not run or won - Denise Savoie and Geoff Young come to mind, but there is not a long list of people that have the potential for building a strong City of Victoria council.

Should Chris run in the fall and win, he will be facing a council that will have at least four new faces on it. Most people that run for local council do not understand how local government works best - that is in a non-partisan team approach. This does not mean everyone agreeing on everything, but it means being able to put aside positions and ideology in favour of governing well. Four new people on council will require a lot of leadership and mentoring from the mayor and incumbents on council.

For the record, I believe that Chris can win in the fall because he will be able to put together a strong campaign.
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