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A Rick Downes Challenge

This Article is By: I.M. Pertinent    On  Mar. - 19, 2006

Our contributors comment on a variety of local municipal issues. These 'Op-Ed' views are published here to further public discussion on these issues.  They do not necessarily represent an editorial position by Kingston Electors.

Rick Downes is contemplating a run for mayor? Now that promises to be an interesting campaign. Interesting because really, what's he going to campaign on?

Will it be his work record? It appears Downes has left his colleagues to do most of the heavy committee lifting this term. According to the city committee lists, Downes sits on just three committees, only one of which is a standing committee of council. Compare that with Councillors George Sutherland and Ed Smith, who sit on 14 committees each. Or Councillor Leonore Foster, who sits on 12 city committees. Foster also represents Kingston at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, where she sits on five national committees. Even those councillors with the fewest committee appointments - Deputy Mayor Bittu George, 5; Sara Meers and George Stoparczyk, 6 each - sit on at least two standing committees of council. Downes' current baby, a committee to attract new physicians, has been meeting for a year or so. There's been lots of publicity about the committee's important work, but how many new doctors do we have as a result? None we've heard of.

Will he campaign on leadership?  Councillor Downes has been a vicious and vocal critic of his council colleagues, the mayor and municipal staff. How is he to lead this group when he hasn't demonstrated either an ability to lead or a willingness to be a team player?

Will he campaign on his accomplishments? We know Downes has a solid track record objecting to council initiatives, but has he actually done anything this term? What initiatives has he moved forward? What projects or policies has he brought to the table?  His most visible efforts appear to be directed toward stopping an entertainment centre. Friends of the Entertainment Centre website sums up his battle this way: "Having failed at all other means to stop this much-needed project, the Councillor [Downes] is now desperate to subvert the will of Council and the citizens of Kingston."  Hardly a mayoral endorsement, that.

My own view: Downes is dreaming in technicolor if he thinks he has widespread support outside the anti-arena lobby.