Friday, October 22, 2010

Figuring Out Whom To Vote For is Hard

I figured out my choice for mayor weeks ago. While I was intrigued by Sarah Thompson, I was less impressed with her after seeing her in a few debates. Joey Pants seems like a hell of a nice guy, and I can support most of his platform, but it's clear he's far out of the running. In some elections I would still vote for him, but not this time. I find Rob Ford so intensely objectionable that I am quite upset at the thought of him being our next mayor, and representing Toronto. His statements about HIV, Asians, bicycle riders and the homeless astonish and horrify me. I think he is a rude, ignorant loud mouth who is completely unqualified to be mayor, and I'm shocked at the level of support he has gathered.

So I'm voting for George Smitherman for Mayor, and not even holding my nose to do so. I think he is a smart, capable man who will represent Toronto well and do his best to improve things in the city. I think he deserves some of the blame for the eHealth mess, and I think he has gone far enough in accepting responsibility for that.

So that's the easy choice. I still have to figure out who is the best choice for City Councilor and School Trustee. In my ward there are 10 candidates for Councilor and 6 candidates for School Trustee. It's much harder to learn about these candidates, with little or no TV coverage, and not much in the newspapers either. I've had a few come to my door, and I've looked at their web sites. Some of them have robo-called me, which I don't enjoy. That has helped me narrow down my choices to 2 or 3 in each contest, but I haven't been able to settle on one candidate yet.

Last night I attended a Town hall meeting with all the City Councilor candidates for Ward 10. It was held at B'nai Brith seniors residence, so the audience was mostly older Jewish people, which tilted the conversation towards their concerns. The meeting lasted only an hour, so with 10 candidates there was only time for opening & closing statements and a couple of questions, which focused on affordable housing and city funding of events that are perceived as being hateful towards Israel. Each of the candidates made a point of claiming their "Holocaust points" with the audience, citing their parents or grandparents who either perished in or survived the Holocaust. I found that pretty distasteful, though maybe with this audience it was important for them to do. Nancy Oomen was the only obviously non-Jewish candidate (I'm guessing the other 9 are all Jewish, though I'm not certain of that), and she tried to keep pace by telling us that she was raised in the Netherlands, which tried to help the Jews during WWII, and was an environment tolerant of all races and religions. I can see the importance of showing a community that you can represent them, but all the pandering went too far for me. There was some bickering over the time each candidate got to speak, and an elderly man made a fuss over the lack of Russian translation, disrupting the meeting for a few minutes.

At the end of the meeting I managed to ask my top 2 Councilor picks who they support for mayor. Brian Shifman wouldn't answer the question, except to say that he can work with whoever is mayor. That's nice, but I still want to know who would be his choice. James Pasternak was good enough to tell me his choice, but since it's Ford I'm now far less impressed with him. So probably Shifman gets my vote, though I may be disappointed enough in his smart political move to refuse to name his choice for mayor that I may vote for Eric Plant, who seems like a sharp young guy, but is unlikely to crack the top 3. My guess is the race is among Oomen, Pasternak and Shifman.

For school trustee I'm still unclear. I'm in Ward 5 (and why are there different ward numbers for Councilor and School trustee?). I'm probably stuck between Robin Shugar and Howard Kaplan, but I don't feel like I really know either well enough to be sure. Shugar has lined herself up with Pasternak, and has robo-called me a few times. That may be enough to shove me to Kaplan's side. It's sad that I'll make this decision based on so little real data. I'm not likely to go out of my way enough to track down the candidates for a live conversation, and I haven't been able to find any all-candidates meetings for this race.