Should ward jumping be allowed?
By Rick Vanderlinde Simcoe.com Sep 22, 2010
INNISFIL — Sometimes federal and provincial political parties prefer to “parachute” one of their “star” candidates into a key riding. That special candidate may live in B.C., but the party has a seat in Ontario it really needs to win. So they bring in the big guns.
I’ve never had a real problem with the concept. After all, if the Liberals have a great candidate who happens to live in Stephen Harper’s riding, they would be sending a lamb to slaughter if they ran that person against the Prime Minister.
It happens in provincial politics too. Sometimes parties just want to get the best person they can into office. They may be grooming that candidate for a cabinet post or as the next leader of the opposition.
This approach can rile up some grassroots supporters who have already picked their local candidate. The question being: How can someone who lives in B.C, for instance, represent a riding in Ontario?
Well, the same sort of thing is happening, on a much smaller scale of course, right here in Innisfil.
Ward 2 candidate John Hurd believes that both his rivals have no business running in the Lefroy area because they live in Ward 7, which borders on his ward and includes Gilford, Churchill and Cookstown.
“To put if bluntly, running outside of your ward seems to be a self-serving exercise to get a seat on a council,” Hurd says. “Typically, candidates run in the ward they live in because that’s just natural. I run here because I know the issues that are happening right in my own back yard.”
Hurd says he’s been bringing the issue up in his campaign ads — John Hurd is the only candidate for Ward 2 who lives in Ward 2 — because many voters think candidates are legally obligated to run where they live.
Hurd believes he knows why his opponents Richard Simpson and Harry Perkins aren’t running in Ward 7.
The simple answer? Lynn Dollin. The veteran councillor is just too formidable an opponent to defeat. I concur with Hurd on that count. With my apologies to newcomer Rob Nicol, I doubt if there is anyone in this town who could unseat Dollin.
“They won’t run against her, so they run here,” Hurd says. “I think that demonstrates a real lack of leadership and self confidence.”
But hold on a minute here. Perkins and Simpson say it’s not nearly as simple as that.
For starters, Simpson doesn’t see anything wrong with ward jumping.
“The way I look at it, Innisfil is like a big house with a lot of rooms,” he says. “I live in that house, so does it really matter which room I’m in?”
Simpson adds he has an affinity for the Lefroy area because that’s where he went to school and played his minor hockey.
“I was asked by a number of residents in that ward to run there,” he says. “I know a lot of people there.”
Simpson also put to rest “rumours” that he was parachuted into the ward by the same campaign team that is backing incumbent Bill Van Berkel and Gord Wauchope, who are running for deputy mayor and mayor respectively.
“My campaign is totally grassroots. I have no such campaign team behind me,” he says. “I have family and friends helping me.”
The Dollin-factor did come into play when Perkins, who worked 32 years for the Town of Innisfil as a roads supervisor, decided to run for council.
“I know Lynn from all my years with the Town and I just have too much respect to run against. She does such a great job.”
Perkins says he chose Ward 2 because of its proximity to Ward 7, admitting it was attractive because Van Berkel’s decision to seek higher office means an incumbent isn’t running.
“After working for the town for 32 years, I’m familiar with every bit of Innisfil,” he says. “I would have absolutely no problem representing Ward 2.”
My personal position on ward jumping?
It all depends. I believe you have to judge it case-by-case, candidate-by-candidate.
Sorry John Hurd, but having a race in Ward 2 in this particular election serves democracy better than having no opposition. If Simpson or Perkins hadn’t run, Hurd would have been acclaimed. As much I hate them, acclaimations are usually bestowed upon incumbents who have a solid track record.
Hurd, of course, is an able candidate who knows the issues and has been a capable watchdog of council during the past term.
But an acclamation simply because no one else in his ward was up to the challenge, would have been a disservice to voters.