Three ward races to watch in Peter­bor­ough’s mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion

Hall fac­ing strong chal­lenge from Zip­pel in bid to re­turn to coun­cil in Oton­abee Ward

The Peterborough Examiner - - Opinion - DAVID GOYETTE David Goyette is a writer, po­lit­i­cal ad­vi­sor and com­mu­ni­ca­tions con­sul­tant.

The Oct. 22 mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion is seven weeks away. As is the cus­tom in On­tario, elec­tion ac­tiv­ity will be­gin to gather both steam and public at­ten­tion fol­low­ing next week’s Labour Day – the sym­bolic marker of the end of sum­mer and the re­turn to work and school. In the City of Peter­bor­ough, ten of the eleven cur­rent city coun­cil­lors – in­clud­ing the mayor – are seek­ing re-elec­tion. While that high rate of in­cum­bency re­duces the prospects for the elec­tion of new faces, there are none­the­less three ward races in­volv­ing new can­di­dates that hold some in­trigue and are worth watch­ing.

In Oton­abee ward in the south end, Coun­cil­lor Les­ley Par­nell is a two-term in­cum­bent who is con­sid­ered a safe bet to re­turn to coun­cil for a third term. The res­ig­na­tion of Coun­cil­lor Dan McWil­liams has cre­ated a va­cancy that is be­ing con­tested by five can­di­dates, in­clud­ing for­mer 17-year Northcrest ward coun­cil­lor and Po­lice Ser­vices Board Chair Bob Hall. Hall’s pri­mary com­pe­ti­tion is likely to be Kim Zip­pel, a sec­ond time Oton­abee ward can­di­date who fin­ished third in the 2014 elec­tion and who is highly ad­mired for her tire­less fo­cus on en­vi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship. Hall has the ben­e­fit of sub­stan­tial ex­pe­ri­ence in cam­paign­ing and gov­ern­ment; as a sup­porter of the mayor, his for­tunes will be some­what tied to those of Daryl Ben­nett. Zip­pel rep­re­sents those seek­ing change and has the ad­van­tage of a solid record of re­cent com­mu­nity in­volve­ment. At the same time, she may be vic­tim­ized by a col­lec­tive ward re­luc­tance to elect two women coun­cil­lors.

The race in the down­town Town ward is def­i­nitely one to watch. In­cum­bent coun­cil­lor Dean Pap­pas is seek­ing his fourth term on city coun­cil. While he has both loyal sup­port­ers and im­pas­sioned de­trac­tors, he is favoured to win his seat. The va­cancy cre­ated by for­mer Town ward coun­cil­lor and cur­rent may­oralty can­di­date Diane Ther­rien has at­tracted four con­tenders, three of whom are women. Among those, Kemi Akapo of the New Cana­di­ans Cen­tre has emerged as a favourite of the pro­gres­sive and union-backed ac­tivists in the ward who are anx­ious to ad­vance mi­nor­ity rep­re­sen­ta­tion on coun­cil. There is also sub­stan­tial sup­port for can­di­date Jim Rus­sell, the CEO of the United Way, who not only oc­cu­pies the same pro­gres­sive ter­ri­tory, but is highly ac­com­plished as an ex­pe­ri­enced man­ager, com­mu­nity ad­vo­cate, thinker and speaker. The ward has had Con­ser­va­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the re­cent past, driven largely by busi­ness in­ter­ests; Con­ser­va­tives are un­likely to find favour this time .

Ash­burn­ham Ward in East City also of­fers an in­ter­est­ing race. The two ward coun­cil­lor seats are held by two-term Coun­cil­lor Keith Riel and first-term Coun­cil­lor Gary Bald­win. Both en­joy good com­mu­nity sup­port and have ben­e­fit­ted from a highly co­op­er­a­tive ap­proach to their work with each other. In 2014, a large share of the vote – 44 per cent – went to can­di­dates other than these two in­cum­bents. This time out, there will be com­pe­ti­tion for those votes from three new can­di­dates, two of whom have the po­ten­tial for a sig­nif­i­cant amount of vote split­ting. Sheila Wood, a for­mer may­oral and provin­cial NDP can­di­date, is an ex­pe­ri­enced cam­paigner who will likely draw votes from both in­cum­bents, and may tap into Keith Riel’s vote in par­tic­u­lar. The ex­tent of her suc­cess, as well as that of Keith Riel, will be in­flu­enced by the per­for­mance of may­oral can­di­date Diane Ther­rien. Paul Rellinger, a first time can­di­date with sub­stan­tial me­dia and com­mu­nity ex­pe­ri­ence, brings a very high level of pop­u­lar­ity to the race that could eas­ily eat into Gary Bald­win’s vote. If there is an up­set in the mak­ing this elec­tion, it may well be in Ash­burn­ham ward.

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