Election Chads

Free coffee and credit due

Mayoralty candidate Sean Leitenberg works his campaign out of a coffee wagon at Fairfield and Moss in front of a cottage he says was once owned by Sir James Douglas.

He serves the coffee–on him–near the Cottage Bakery, kitty-corner from the school named after Sir James, and talks politics with anyone who drops by weekday mornings from 9 to 10:30.

Now he has a new topic of conversation: he says the City’s proposed new plan to mandate 10 to 15% of all new condo units as affordable rental suites, splashed on the front page of the T-C, was adapted from one of his own campaign planks.

Only Leitenberg’s proposal would go much further–20% of all new units at 20% below market rate for 20 years.

He discussed his 20-20-20 idea with Mayor Helps at city hall in July, a month after he released his plan.

“I’m glad they were listening,” he says. Although it’s likely the civicrats received input from other sources as well.

The T-C should follow suit re other sources. With the election campaign in full swing, it seems unfair to quote the mayor in four paragraphs in the story, but none of the other candidates.

Now the city’s housing advocates, including some councillors, who have been pressing council to do more about affordable housing for years, will wait to see if this new plan is the real thing, or just more talk and less action.


The brick of bureaucracy

Your loyal correspondent walked into City Hall the other day and asked the friendly cashiers where to pick up nomination papers for the October 20 election.

“In the mayor’s office.”

Hmm, that felt like being sent to the principal’s office to complain about the principal.

So I strolled over to the locked door protecting the executive suite, pressed the ringer and was buzzed in and ushered over to Legislative Services.

They offered a brick of paper, several hundred pages long, and then asked for my name and contacts, “in case of updates.”

Only slightly intimidating, but I suspect it would be more so if I was an actual candidate looking to run in the election.

The contents of the Candidate Information Guide suggest many long hours of collecting nominators’ signatures (25), filling in forms and tracking expenses–just another reminder of the incumbent’s advantage of a team of campaign volunteers to help with door-knocking, sign planting and bureaucratic chores.

On the mayoralty side, Lisa Helps has such an organization, Stephen Hammond less so, the rest, likely much less.

The mayor’s shadow

Lisa Helps and Marianne Alto step into the mayor’s Fort Street campaign office

Mystery still revolves around the close political connection between the Mayor and Councillor Marianne Alto, who vote nearly identically on major development issues.

Helps, who claims no political stripe but seems Libertarian on civic building projects, and Alto, an NDP stalwart, are so close on this issue that some call the councillor “the mayor’s Alto ego.”

Other left-leaning councillors seem to consider major developments on their merits and vote No about a third of the time or more. Alto’s voting record is 95% yes, as is the mayor’s.

Some other chads of convergence between the two:

-Alto was the only councillor to show up at Helps’s recent campaign office opening on Fort Street. They shared a hug and good wishes outside the vacated storefront.

-Alto is the mayor’s fellow traveller and wing woman on the city family committee that made the decision to remove the Sir John A statue.

-When Helps gave up her weekly radio show on CFAX–callers complained of the free publicity on the eve of an election campaign–I’ll give you one guess which member of council replaced her on the talk show for more free publicity.

“We can’t figure it out,” said one Victoria NDP activist of the relationship between the two and Alto’s pro-development stance.

My invitation for an interview is still open to Councillor Alto, the only member of council who hasn’t found time for a sit-down with The Record on the voting scorecard and other issues.


  Vote for Mike, but where?

If this is Friday, it must be Victoria.

Newly declared mayoral candidate Mike Geoghegan (pronounced Gaygun) forgot one detail when he announced his candidacy for the top job in Victoria this week: his website promoting his bid for a spot in Saanich was still active, labeled:


Geoghegan, a political consultant, seemed deeply rooted in Saanich last September when he ran in a council byelection. He finished fourth with 863 votes, well behind winner Karen Harper’s 2,340 votes.

And hey, it’s just a hop and a skip from Saanich to Victoria.

His new Victoria mayoralty website is now online.

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