Note: This is an informal reflection on the results of last night’s election. Opinions are completely my own, and subject to change.
The votes are in, and Prince George has a new mayor and a few new faces on council. From the start, pundits were saying the race between Green and Rogers would be a close one, and the fact that Green ousted the incumbent is a surprise, perhaps, only because it is notoriously difficult to oust an incumbent mayor (this is only the second time in the city’s history). On council, everyone running for re-election made it with the exception of Deborah Munoz, and the three newcomers (Lynn Hall, Frank Everitt, and Albert Koehler) are all established names in the city. On school board, a couple of incumbents were ousted, and look to be joined by five new faces.
The following is a few observations that I’m making after a brief glance around on Sunday morning:
Slates and Endorsements
It’s a bit of a hunt to find endorsements this time around, but there were a few (if I’m missing any, I’d appreciate you letting me know). The one that is likely the happiest this morning is the Prince George Recreational Hockey League, who had all of their endorsements (Green, Everitt, Koehler, Hall, Stolz and Skakun) get in.
Cope 378 had some endorsements, too, and came up about 50-50. Rogers is out, on council Munoz failed to get re-elected but Krause, Everitt, and Skakun all got in, and of their two choices for school board, Bekkering is in while Crawford is out.
The People’s Action Committee for Clean Air didn’t run endorsements so much as they graded candidates based on a questionnaire, however knowledge on the subject of clean air didn’t seem to be much help in getting elected. While Hall received an “A+” and topped the council race, the “A”‘s received by Dan Rogers, Deborah Munoz and Brad Gagnon didn’t seem to help much. Nor, for that matter did the fact that Shari Green and Brian Skakun received a “C+” seem to hurt. Of the remaining elected council members, Wilbur, Koehler, Everitt, Krause, and Stolz received a “B” grade while Frizzell was not graded as his form was submitted late. However, you can read his (and all the other candidates) answers here.
Absent from this year’s race, at least publicly, was anything resembling the “Let’s Go PG” movement of business owners endorsing candidates. Ben Meisner, however, reported on their absence earlier this year with a look at their past set of endorsements. As of nomination papers being filed, he had had no luck finding any slate from this group.
How much any of this mattered in how people voted, of course, is anyone’s guess.
This is an interesting one. It is being widely reported that this is the first time Prince George has had a female mayor since Carrie Jane Gray left office in 1969, but it’s also a pretty male dominated council. This may not be surprising since only four women even ran for a seat (out of a total of 19). In terms of visible minorities, a group that the Globe and Mail reports is vastly underrepresented in local government in Canada— well, I wouldn’t exactly say those elected reflects the diversity I see when going about my day. Perhaps this is because there weren’t a lot of visible minorities running. The issue of why this might be, or if it even matters, could be an interesting discussion.
The World Is Run By Those Who Show Up
We had an open line for candidate’s to make their pitch to voters at CBC. A candidate from another city opened by saying “The world is run by those who show up.” If you take the world to be run by elected officials and/or the people who vote for them, then this certainly holds. Early numbers say that 15,266 people bothered to vote,
in a city of close to 80,000. That puts total numbers at something like 18%, give or take a few, which is hardly a ringing endorsement for anyone. UPDATE: HQ Prince George says there are 53,000 eligible voters, putting turnout at 29%, though those numbers are still far from impressive.
I hesitate to speculate but I would guess that low turn-out in city elections is less people saying “it doesn’t matter who I vote for because my vote doesn’t count” than it is “it doesn’t matter who I vote for because city elections don’t matter.” But again, who knows? Either way, I’d argue they’re wrong because city’s are under increasing pressure to do more with less, and the next decade or so is going to see significant strain on budgets and infrastructure. Whether that contributes to increased turn out next time around– well, we’ll see in three years.
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