I am running for city council in ward 11, and I have noticed dozens of things that can be done to make elections more fair and equitable. In Ward 11, we don’t have an incumbent; however, like most wards, there are 70,000 plus voters. How do we reach them all? How does the city create more fairness and inform residents of the issues? I have a few ideas.
Right now, a candidate only needs 100 dollars and 25 signatures. The Mayor only needs 250 dollars and 25 signatures. It is also worth noting that with any nomination papers, we, as candidates, get a letter allowing us, by law, to have access and entry into every condo or apartment in the city. In many ways, this is unwelcome by many residents in condos and apartments. But hey, for a hundred bucks, why not…I am surprised people don’t deliver pizza flyers for that cost. So ensuring the candidates are legitimate and serious about the campaign would be an essential step to better elections. Unfortunately, the rules around our city elections are stacked in favour of the incumbents and the connected. However, many things can be done.
- Increase the Mayor’s nomination requirement to 1000 dollars and 500 signatures to discourage less serious Mayoral candidates. This year there are 32 candidates for Mayor on the ballot.
- Increase councillor commitment to 200 dollars and 100 signatures to discourage less serious councillor candidates.
- Randomly validate the legitimacy of the signatures and or emails, another layer of ensuring the candidate is not making them up.
- As part of every city election, the city should use its extensive printing facilities and affordable mailing rates to create an election package for every ward. This package would be sent to every voter’s front door. In that package, there would be a 5×7 postcard from each councillor candidate in the ward, printed by the city, inserted in the package, along with a ward map, polling stations and other election materials the city already sends out.
- They should also host a website with an upload of video for all candidates, 3 mins or less, to promote equal video access and findability for all candidates.
- Absolutely no endorsements from sitting councillors, Mayor or active politicians that recently left city office preceding the election.
- Incumbent Councillor email lists developed from past interactions in the role of councillor, including social, should never be used for promoting another candidate or themselves.
- Appointed councillors should be forbidden from running.
- The city should reserve council chambers for council and Mayoral debates, to be live streamed with every candidate being invited. It is the very least the city can do. The city has the space, audio-video and production facilities ready to go. Oh, and the council is not using the space anyways. This offer should also be the case for every ward.
- The nomination process should begin 4 months before the election instead of almost 6. Incumbents should only be allowed to campaign 60 days before the election.
- There should be 5 mayoral mandated debates sponsored by the major broadcasters and one supported by the city for a total of six Mayoral debates.
- Signs for an incumbent should be allowed until 20 days before the election. Signs for the challenger can go up 30 days before the election.
A more fair and equal distribution of basic candidate information will help voters better appreciate the issues and the candidates. The benefits will be terrific. We will meet more candidates, hear more issues, and ultimately, there will be much greater involvement in the political process.
Contributed by Peter Lovering, Publisher of the Parliament Street News and current Candidate for City Councillor Ward 11, University-Rosedale.