Monday, January 05, 2015

Just some thoughts on the results of the Mayor's race in Victoria

I have been meaning to write something like this for several weeks but took most of Christmas off

The end result of the race was a very close result and a mayor elected with the lowest percentage of the vote for the mayor since the 1990 election that elected David Turner with only 33.90% of the vote.  David Turner lasted for a single term as mayor.

Lisa Helps     9,200  37.63% (centre left green)
Dean Fortin    9,111  37.27% (NDP)
Ida Chong      3,275  13.40% (centre right business)
Stephen Andrew 2,380   9.74% (centre)
4 others         480   1.96%

The problem Lisa has is that she won in a race where 62.4% of the people did not want her to be mayor.   She has a very weak popular mandate and has to very quickly understand what the majority wants if she wants to be re-elected in 2018.

On the positive side she has a nicely divided council - 4 New Democrats and 4 centre right.   Both sides can achieve their interests if they have the mayor on board.   It puts the mayor in a very powerful place and should make it very easy for her to bring forward most of her issues, but.....

Lisa made several missteps in the first weeks:
The oath to the Queen, which surprisingly is an issue to more people than I ever expected
The attempt to award a direct contract to Domenic Lepore for $55,000
The way the right to a healthy environment declaration was handled - if it had come forward with the support of some of the councilors on the centre right it would be portrayed as a loony left idea.

Many people wanted to dismiss Lisa as a mayor long before she was elected and the events of the first few weeks gave them ample material to reinforce their existing views.   The next election is close to four years away and already some people are thinking about running for mayor.   She has the danger of being viewed as a lame duck by many people and that will reduce her effectiveness.

The powers of a mayor in BC are limited.  The biggest source of power most mayors have is looking and acting like a leader in their position and getting people to follow them.   This is not something that is a law or rule but a combination of  attitude, confidence and respect.   Lisa has lost ground on this.  

When a new mayor is elected most people will give benefit of the doubt as to their ability to be mayor but this has been lost by Lisa.  She now needs a serious plan on how to get the the respect of the public back and allow her to achieve some significant tangible changes to City Hall.

One of the dangers she has now is that there are people who do not want her to succeed and they will allow things to happen that harm Lisa as mayor.   This will not be anything public and so can not be addressed directly.   It leaves her deeper in the hole when trying to regain her status as mayor.

It will be interesting to see how Victoria council plays out over the next couple of years
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