Nominations are now closed for the 2018 Municipal election. For those candidates nominated to engage the residents of Brampton, the process has begun in earnest and the door knocking has begun. Unfortunately, an ugly side of municipal politics has reared its head with some retiring Councillors refusing to go quietly into the night. First timers to the municipal arena have to deal with the “incumbent advantage” and name recognition that comes with high profile candidates and family dynasties that continue to plague qualified individuals from gaining a foothold in politics. There is a concerted effort by some Councillors to give a public endorsement to their “heir apparent”, as if imparting a papal blessing.
This endorsement is disingenuous, unethical, unfair and reeks of meddling in our political process. Have these Councillors even met or tried to vet all the candidates running to replace them, or have they just assumed the role of “king maker” as a last gasp of entitlement?
Every candidate should be able to stand on their platform, their record of service and background. By having a sitting Councillor deem someone a worthy replacement for their seat, not only discounts the others, but imparts another unfair advantage to the process itself, just as newspapers and media organizations that show preference for certain candidates. Unlike the American municipal system, our local representatives typically are not running as a member of an established political party. Each candidate has values, priorities and beliefs that span many political ideologies. Candidates should vigorously debate their platforms in public forums where voters can come to their own conclusions.
Councillors are still being paid by taxpayers to represent their constituents until after the election on October 22nd. They should remain impartial and let voters decide. Will their endorsements matter? There are studies that suggest effectiveness depends on the scope of the endorsement, and it happens more frequently in municipal elections where media coverage is limited. In limited media markets like Brampton, endorsements make up a greater percentage of media reach and coverage and often is the only information that many voters get exposed to.
Are we voting in capable and engaged representatives who want to make the city better, or are we being herded like sheep because we can’t think for ourselves? Let us know if you see any retiring Councillor going beyond a public endorsement and engaging in backroom politics to keep their control and influence embedded in the city.