Another Mayoral Candidate?
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He doesn't say so, but Bittu George's interestingly-timed announcement in Saturday's Whig Standard that he's ready to derail the LVEC certainly raises the prospect that the deputy mayor is looking to position himself to make a run for the mayor's chair in November. Bittu would join Councillors Rick Downes and Kevin George, both of whom have admitted publicly they are considering a campaign for the city's top job. All three have now lined up in opposition to the entertainment centre. But is that going to be enough to unseat Harvey Rosen? Highly doubtful and one need only refer back to the 2003 election numbers to see why: This trio of councillors only barely made it to the council table in the first place. Vote splitting, not popular support, appears to explain Kevin and Bittu's success. Downes barely squeaked ahead of his competitors.
Numbers come from the city elections site:
Rick got 1,048 votes in his district in 2003. The three-way split among his competitors totalled 895 votes. He won his district by a mere 153 vote margin. There's little evidence - especially since that crack at council about the west end being a "boondock" - that Downes has the city-wide support base needed to win a mayoral campaign. He may be the champion of the anti-LVEC lobby, but how good a campaign strategy is "do nothing?"
Bittu's 2003 numbers were weaker than Rick's. Bittu won 1,327 votes. A five-way split among his competitors garnered 1,683 votes. Had the vote been consolidated, Bittu would have lost by 356 votes. Bittu has done little to demonstrate his abilities or leadership skills this term of council. After 3
years in office, it's not even clear to voters who Bittu George is. We don't know him, or what he stands for.
With just 1,535 votes, Kevin's '03 numbers were weakest of all. His two opponents split 2,001 votes, leaving him 466 votes behind. Kevin's not afraid to speak his mind or to push council to get things done, but rarely does he see more than one side (his) of any issue. Kevin professes concern for public tax dollars on the one hand, but states undying support for some curious causes, like KEDCO, on the other, leading one to wonder if he knows what responsible expenditures are.
Now contrast those numbers with Harvey Rosen's 2003 showing. Running on a two-issue platform - growing the economy and replacing the M Centre - Harvey received 23,205 votes and unseated a sitting mayor for what was, if memory serves, the third time in Kingston's history. Isabel Turner, the incumbent, won just 4,556 votes.
All 5 mayoral opponents combined: Turner, Richard Moller, Dave Meers, Jeffrey Lowes and Joseph Barr, collected a total of 11,402 votes in 2003. That's 11,803 fewer than Rosen alone. All 12 city councillors combined collected 16,723 votes - or 6,482 votes fewer than Rosen (A meaningless number for sure but an interesting anecdote nonetheless.)
Among city councillors, only Sara Meers had a result comparably dismal to Bittu and Kevin. Sara won 806 votes. Her three opponents collected 1,359 votes combined, effectively crushing her by 553 ballots.
Elected on a wing and a prayer was Ed Smith, who managed a weak 72-vote margin in Williamsville against 3 opponents. Smith got 1,068 votes; opponents 996.
Floyd Patterson's lead over his opponents was a very narrow 164 votes. Floyd got 1,229; opponents 1,065.
The councillor with strongest showing in 2003 was Leonore Foster, winning 2,221 votes to her one opponent's 997. Foster won with a solid 1,224 vote lead. George Beavis had good support, winning 2,257 votes against two opponents who collected 1,652 ballots to register a 605-vote win. George
Stoparczyk maintained a 295-vote margin, garnering 1,822 votes to his two opponents' 1,527 while Steve Garrison, with 1,528 ballots, came out with a strong 468-vote lead over his one opponent. Beth Pater faced a single opponent as well and won her seat with 1,882 votes against 1,475 - a 407-vote advantage. George Sutherland, of course, was acclaimed.
My prediction: Rosen will run, again, on an entertainment centre platform, again, and demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that a huge majority of citizens support his efforts to stimulate economic development and the downtown tourist area and build a progressive community. The anti-LVEC crowd
will by and large get the boot. Kingston will have wasted three years arguing over an arena that will get built next year instead of this and at greater cost than if Rick, Kevin, Bittu, Sara, Steve and others, had not worked so hard to block it. Mayoral hopefuls and the anti-LVEC contingent on council should be reminded that they are working with only a thin thread of support, if that. Rosen, on the other hand, is not.