What difference does our election system make anyway?
Many people have asked how the whole issue of the ward/general vote came up and why?
People indicate that they were quite happy with the ward system that seemed to be working well..and no one recalls any dissatisfaction ever being expressed with it.
On the contrary, they point out many positives that have happened in Oshawa over recent years…the growth of new industry, the housing and development boom, the rapid expansion of Oshawa and all of the retail alternatives that has spawned, the expansion of new recreational facilities, libraries, and senior’s centers, attracting new residents which has resulted in the Oshawa area having the highest average annual incomes in the country and the fastest growing place in the GTA, etc. and we could go on…but you get the drift.
No one seems to know why we needed a change from ward elections...and the politicians have never told us the reason why the plebiscite question was asked, what was wrong with the ward system such that they would consider change, and what they feel the general vote will accomplish for the city to make it better than ward voting.
We can think of many advantages of ward voting and Oshawa's history with the general vote prior to 1985 demonstrated that as a very deficient system.
The ward distribution of politicians around the city resulted in an even and fair distribution of city facilities …this was a godsend to the south end which had been neglected for too long under oshawa’s former general vote which blocked the south end from city council representation. The ward system brought the south end the first representatives on council that it had in decades.
Under the ward system, the south end is guaranteed 4.5 members of council accountable to them. They have 3 Regional Councillors and 1.5 Local Councillors responsible to South End voters. Under the general vote, for 7 successive councils totaling 109 seats, not one of those 109 elected lived south of king street. Without representation on council, the south end couldn’t and didn’t get any attention from city council. Now with guaranteed representatives, they cannot be neglected any more as long as we have the ward system.
The general vote contributed to a negative reputation for all of Oshawa because of the lack of attention paid to parts that had no political representation. The result…no one wanted to live here and so development stifled and house prices were the cheapest in the GTA. Commuters from Toronto would even bypass Oshawa in favour of Bowmanville, Port Perry and Newcastle where the house prices were higher but the communities were more desireable.
The fact that ward politicians are directly accountable to specific neighbourhoods in the city and will lose their council seats if they don't effectively represent their constituents, they must be productive in doing things for Oshawa.
Under the general vote, a different kind of politician got elected...those who were good at promoting their name. Because name recognition is the determinant in general vote success, that becomes the main effort in everything they do. They backbite, bitch, bicker, and grandstand on council to grab the press. Because all councillors are competitors for the same city wide votes, council becomes very competitive and fractious at the expense of council productivity.
The people of Oshawa must decide...do they want politicians whose main goal is to promote their name or do they want politicians whose main goal is to provide service to people?
If you think service to people is important...you need ward voting.
Email the mayor and council and tell them so and please sign our petition at the top right sidebar of this site if you have not yet done so.
It will take a major effort from everyone if we are to preserve ward voting for Oshawa.