Dialing out for votes turns the tide on mayoral race


It was a game-breaker. It, being news that broke last Thursday of the law suit by London developer David McGee, filed in August, against the city, Mayor Cliff Barwick and numerous other defendants.

Did the timing of the $3 million suit, and the hiring of political strategist Suzanne Van Bommel, impact the mayoral vote in the final weekend of the campaign?

A study of the advance polling numbers would appear to indicate the front-page story filed one week ago by the T-J’s Kyle Rea, and picked up by the Free Press in London, took the wind out of Barwick’s campaign sail.

As of last Friday, Barwick led the advance polls with 585 votes, followed by Heather Jackson-Chapman at 454 and Al Riddell with 432 votes.
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Complete 2010 municipal election results from across Elgin

Heather Jackson-Chapman, 3,666
Cliff Barwick, incumbent, 3,158
Al Riddell, 2,910

(seven to be elected)
Lori Baldwin-Sands, incumbent, 5,366
Jeff Kohler, 4,691
Mark Cosens, 4,592
Gord Campbell, 4,415
Dave Warden, 4,037
Sam Yusuf, 3,760
Tom Johnston, 3,681

Linda Stevenson, 3,294
Peter Ostojic, 2,948
Bill Sandison, 2,699
Ryan Dolby, 2,607
Rose Gibson, 2,243
Joe Docherty, 2,114
John Allen, 1,966
Joan Rymal, 1,945
Joseph Fric, 1,708
Wayne Northcott, 810
Shawn Claridge, 631
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The winners and losers Monday in St. Thomas

One of the more acidic municipal election campaigns in recent memory took barely an hour to resolve once the polls closed Monday evening. Emerging as the popular winner was a jubilant Heather Jackson-Chapman who, by clinching the mayoral race, out-distanced what can only be referred to as the old boys club – Cliff Barwick seeking re-election and Al Riddell eager to launch a political career that never got off the ground.

The 2010 St. Thomas municipal vote can best be characterized as the “dump-Barwick-at-any-cost” campaign and it succeeded – however his fate was sealed nearly two months ago. More on that shortly.

For Heather, the early days in office will be a severe test of her mettle, beginning with the appointment of a finance chairman, normally filled by the top polling alderman, in this case Lori Baldwin-Sands, another winner, albeit a surprise to many. Lori’s strength is social services and she may choose to stay that course. If so, Heather will be under pressure from several quarters to fill one of the most important chairman positions at city hall.
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Will St. Thomas survive this bitter election campaign?


In this corner we have developer Bob McCaig. Staring him down is Warren Scott, president of the St. Thomas Professional Firefighters’ Association.

At stake, whose slate of candidates will sit in the council chambers come December.

In a letter to the Times-Journal this week, in response to an opening volley from McCaig, Scott emphasized his association will continue to “be active in this municipal election and future elections supporting those candidates whom we are confident support public safety.”

McCaig has responded, “I am sure the community appreciated the reply of Warren Scott pointing out there are in fact seven candidates that the association supports and not just three. I stand corrected.”
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Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuit Filed against the City of St. Thomas and Other Parties

Editor’s note: The following press release was forwarded from developer David McGee. It is printed in its entirety for information purposes.

St. Thomas—Claims in a lawsuit filed by real estate developer David McGee allege that City of St. Thomas officials ignored engineering reports and violated a Court order in their rush to tear down the former Sutherland Press Building.
On July 21, 2008, a demolition crew retained by the City arrived at the 105-year-old Sutherland Press Building in downtown St. Thomas, Ontario to demolish it. The city, and various officials claimed that the 4-storey 35,000 sq. ft. solid brick structure was in imminent danger of collapse and a threat to public safety. This was despite McGee’s repeated efforts to save, preserve and develop the building for future use as retail, office and residential space. This was also despite an overwhelming amount of evidence that said that building was sound. McGee is seeking $3 million in actual damages and further sums in punitive damages from the City of St. Thomas and various city officials, including Mayor Cliff Barwick.
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McGuinty Government Proposes New Rules, Higher Standards For Broader Public Sector

This will impact St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital, one of 14 Ontario hospitals identified as hiring lobbyists to obtain increased government funding.

From the Province of Ontario newsroom site:

“Using taxpayer dollars to hire an external lobbyist to ask for more taxpayer dollars is a practice that has gone on for too long – it’s unacceptable and it’s over. We have to focus our investments on front-line health care and public programs. It’s what the public expects and deserves.”

– Deb Matthews
Minister of Health and Long Term Care

Ontario is proposing strict new rules that would prevent organizations funded with taxpayer dollars from using public funds to hire external lobbyists to ask for more funding.

The proposed Broader Public Sector Accountability Act would, if passed, bring in new rules and higher accountability standards for hospitals, Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and the broader public sector around the use of external lobbyists, consultants and expenses. Hospital and LHIN executives could see reductions in pay, should they fail to comply with the requirements under the proposed Act.
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City’s fire fighters respond to developer Bob McCaig


In a letter to the Times-Journal, St. Thomas developer Bob McCaig questioned the motives of city fire fighters going door-to-door in support of municipal candidates who support public safety.

He encouraged voters to “support candidates who promise to provide services based on their needs and not on the direction of one of Ontario’s most powerful union lobbies.”

The full transcript of his letter can be read here

Here is the response from Warren Scott, president St.Thomas Professional Fire Fighters’ Association …

I am writing to correct inaccuracies that appeared in an October 15, 2010 letter to the editor (“Base Municipal Vote on Need Not the Direction of Union Lobby”).

The aforementioned letter centres around the issue of some St. Thomas Fire Fighters’ Association members volunteering their off duty time to participate in the democratic process; more specifically, involving ourselves in the upcoming municipal elections.
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Time for good ideas, not absurd promises


Prior to the 2003 municipal vote, this corner consulted the author of a citizen’s guide to electing better public officials who encourages voters to maximize the impact of their decision when they cast ballots on Oct. 25.

Charles Bens has consulted more than 200 public sector organizations in Canada, the U.S., Europe and Latin America, and he advocates a process he calls “quality voting.”

In the aldermanic race, voters can cast up to a maximum of seven votes, but Bens stresses there is no requirement to endorse seven candidates.

The goal, argues Bens, is to only support those candidates “who will make good decisions on behalf of the community.” If a voter feels they have accomplished that by supporting less than the maximum allowed seven candidates, then they should not feel obligated to cast the remainder of their votes.
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St. Thomas candidates quick to check in on expenses


In the Oct. 9 edition of City Scope, a local business owner posed the following:“why would we support a candidate that hasn’t supported one of it’s own voters?”

The comment is in the context of candidates spending the majority of their campaign expenses locally, since all mayoral and aldermanic candidates have stressed the need to bring new businesses to St. Thomas and utilize existing outlets.

More details are available here.

Within hours of posting this week’s City Scope, two candidates, John Allen and Joe Docherty sent along a breakdown of their expenses. I applaud both of them for their response.
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