Well, the municipal elcetion campaign has entered its final phase.
Candidates had from Jan. 1 until this past Friday to register.
Happily, no one will be acclaimed in Fort Erie, where there are two candidates for mayor, three for regional council and at least two in each of the six ward races.
I say happily because democracy is best served - and in fact is only possible - when there are sufficient numbers of people willing to step into the fray and stand for election to public office.
We often lament poor voter turnout during municipal contests. It’s a sad fact, but we do know that the more candidates there are the greater the voter turnout.A good strong mayor’s race helps too.
Compare the following:
• In 1997 in Fort Erie, voter turnout was 43.4% when Wayne Redekop challenged John Teal for the mayor’s seat.
• In 2000, voter turnout dropped to 29% when no one stepped up to challenged Redekop, who went on to be acclaimed to a second term. Three ward races also went uncontested that year.
I predict a voter turnout in Fort Erie this time out somewhere around the 38%-42% mark.
I hope I’m wrong. Wouldn’t it be nice to see that number double?
If it does go up, you’ll have the many fine people who have placed their name on the ballot to thank for it. It’s the candidates who are responsible for getting people engaged in public discourse. Each one should be commended for their courage and enthusiasm.
Now, let the games begin.
I have lived in Ridgeway (Fort Erie) since 1992.
During the past 18 years I have only had a candidate for municipal election knock on my door twice.
Both times it was a smiling Wayne Redekop, a whirlwind of a politician and an accomplished marathon runner, who came a calling.
Redekop was first elected mayor in 1997. He was acclaimed mayor in 2000 when no one decided to run against him. He was re-elected to a third term in 2003. He stepped aside in 2006 - undefeated.
I first met Wayne in 1993 when I was briefly a member of the Ridgeway Lions Club. At the time, Wayne was a town councillor.
Wayne once told me how important it was for candidates to try to knock on as many doors as they possibly can. In 1991, I bet you he visited every home in his ward at least once.
I still believe it’s just important now - even in this wired up Facebook world we live in - to get out and meet voters on their turf.
In fact, I’m not voting for anyone who doesn’t come to my house to see me. If I’m not home, all you have to do is leave me a personal note on your brochure in my mail box with your phone number and I’ll count that as a visit.
Seriously, I expect a visit from mayoral candidates Doug Martin and Ann-Marie Noyes, region candidates Shirley Cordiner, John Teal and Dave Fernie, and Ward 4 candidates Tim Whitfield and John Hill.
No visit = no vote.
Tell you what, if you visit me, I’ll take your picture at my door and post it on this blog spot. If you don’t visit my door, I’ll periodically remind my readers of your absence.
It’ll be interesting to see who comes by first.
I’ll go put some coffee on; I’m expecting company any time now.
Former mayor joins Fort Erie race for region
Former mayor John Teal has come out of political retirement to seek at seat representing Fort Erie at Regional Council.
(Click headline on this post to link to story, photo)
INSIDE STORY: John Teal, a lawyer, had a long and distinguished political career, like his father before him. During the 80s and 90s he served as both mayor and regional councillor. He lost the mayor’s job to Wayne Redekop in 1997.
After that loss, he focused much of his energies on his law practice. We hadn’t heard much publicly from him for the past decade. But behind the scenes he was still a force to be reckoned with. Most notably, he spoke up loud and often at Niagara Health System board meetings. Because trustees were/are blocked from speaking to the media, his words didn’t make it into the public record. He eventually resigned from the NHS board.
Last year, he teamed up with Redekop and current Mayor Doug Martin to oppose the Niagara Health System’s plans to close the emergency room and operating rooms at Douglas Memorial Hospital.
Sources tell me it was this experience which put a taste for public office back into his mouth and that he believes his talents could best be put to use representing Fort Erie’s interests at the region.
With nominations now closed, the race for the lone region seat is now Teal, incumbent Shirley Cordiner and Dave Fernie.
It could be one of the most interesting races to watch.
It’s that time again.
Municipal elections in Ontario and I have been assigned to cover the races in Fort Erie.
Up through the Oct. 25 vote, I have decided to use this space to blog about the election campaign.
It’ll be sort of a reporter’s notebook, offering tidbits from along the trail.
As in year’s past, The Niagara Falls Review is looking forward to providing comprehensive coverage of the local campaigns.
And for would be candidates, don’t forget Friday, Sept. 10 is the last day to file nomination papers!!
The good, the bad and the ugly
I don’t know how many times people have said to me: “You reporters, all you want to hear is the bad news. Why don’t you print some good news for a change?”
The truth is, when it comes to local content, the ‘good news’ usually outweighs the ‘bad’ by a considerable margin.
Take for example a story in today’s edition of our paper, The Niagara Falls Review.
(Click on headline above to read about Elvis (not the real one) coming back from the dead)
In June, we wrote a story about Elvis impersonator Rob Delgaty, who suffered a heart attack while performing a concert.
Rob’s life was spared because an off duty firefighter happened to be in the audience when he collapsed.
Four months - and a major operation – later, Delgaty is ready to don his costume again. Niagara Falls Review reporter Ray Spiteri writes Delgaty is planning to take to the same stage where he died and was brought back to life to perform a benefit concert for the Heart and Stroke foundation.
Now that’s the kind of story we reporters just love to write about. Honestly, we love happy endings.
Unfortunately there are times when the news ends tragically, such as a story last week about a 19-year-old St. Catharines construction worker who fell to his death in a workplace accident.
We don’t shy away from, nor do we apologize for, writing the sad stories.
That’s part of the job, too.
Journalism – sometimes the good, sometimes the bad and occasionally the ugly.
Our Town a great opportunity for Niagara Falls
Public broadcaster WNED Buffalo/Toronto is bringing its popular Our Town series to Niagara Falls in September.
(Click on headline above for link to full story)
The station is looking for 20-25 volunteers to help capture video images of what its like to live in the Cataract City. No experience in videography required - only access to a video camera.
Why not give it a try. The “video scrapbook” is a wonderful opportunity both for the participants and for the city as a whole.
Back to the future: Reconsider trolleys for Niagara Falls
I like that people are still pitching ideas for the best type of mass transit in Niagara Falls.
(Click on the headline for link to Niagara Falls Review story.)
I must admit, though, I have a soft spot for the trolley concept. I remember my grandmother telling me stories about riding the trolley from Stop 19, in Welland to Niagara Falls back in the 1940s. Sometimes we have to look back in time to see our way forward.
HELP WANTED: Community Editorial Board
The Niagara Falls Review is looking for citizens to participate as members of a Community Editorial Board. For more information, click on the headline above to link to the story.
More bodies unearthed in Fort Erie
When you’re in the journalism biz, you never know what’s going turn up when you answer your phone.
(Click on headline above to link to story, video)
Week before last, I was working a night shift at The Niagara Falls Review when a call came in from a guy who wanted to tell us about “some bodies” that had been found in Fort Erie, a town of 30,000 just south of Niagara Falls.
You wouldn’t believe how many wacky calls I’ve had during my 10 years at The Review - everything from UFO sightings to claims the CIA is slowly raising the Whirlpool Bridge to eventually deny Canadian entrance to the United States.
Still, I’m always willing to lend an ear to any and all who call, because that’s part of what we do and what the community expects from their daily newspaper.
At first, I thought the caller was a little nuts. But I soon realized this guy wasn’t making the story up. We checked it out and, yup, there were human remains.
As it turns out, a construction crew had stumbled upon what looks to be a long forgotten pioneer cemetery. So far, four skeletons have been discovered and there may be more.
Review reporter Ray Spiteri and photographer/videographer Mike DiBattista have done a great job covering the story for the past week and keeping our readers up to date on the latest developments.
Keep the tips coming.
"Don’t write so that you can be understood; write so that you can’t be misunderstood."
William Howard Taft - United States president, 1909-1913