Our endorsements

Photo: 

On Monday, Nov. 13, Kingston residents will vote in the municipal election to elect a mayor, as well as representatives to city council. It’s important that students don’t neglect this chance to vote as the elected candidates will have a significant influence over the areas in which we live, work and play over the next four years. We offer our endorsements for mayor and in the wards where most students live: Sydenham, Williamsville, King’s Town and Portsmouth.

Mayor: Rick Downes

Rick Downes is the best mayoral candidate running in this election, primarily because, if elected, he plans to focus on the needs of Kingston residents without being blinded by dollar signs. Downes’s top concerns include humanitarian issues, poverty and social services—all of which are core-needs which the city must address. Although his tendency to get overly emotional at council meetings occasionally stands in the way of his good ideas, the passion and dedication he will bring to the mayor’s office are unparalleled and will be a refreshing addition to the city.

While the incumbent Harvey Rosen has accomplished a great deal during his tenure as mayor, his single-minded business approach to politics is not enough to properly serve all Kingstonians. His ambitious vision for the city did lead to several major development projects, including the Large Venue Entertainment Centre (LVEC), the Market Square revitalization (and the subsequently bungled re-naming) and the Grand Theatre renovation. All worthy projects, Rosen has made great strides in terms of developing Kingston’s downtown. However, all of the projects have been marred by lack of public consultation, shady backroom deals and generally poor judgment. His desire to run the city like a business is unsettling for those who believe in issues beyond economic development. High rates of homelessness and drug addiction, as well as other social and environmental issues are pressing concerns for the incoming mayor, and these are issues that can’t be cured by economic means alone.

Rosen was an embarrassment at this year’s Pride parade, where he read from a standard, scripted tourism speech and made zero mention of queer issues; he recklessly lashed out at students after Homecoming 2005, calling for the use of water cannons at future parties (he has since apologized for his remarks); and he rarely strays from his narrow, business-centric approach to politics.

While Downes’s desire to revisit the LVEC discussion – and consider moving it from its current downtown location to the grounds where the Memorial Centre currently sits – is puzzling, the project is too far along to change course in any significant way. The LVEC issue aside (which, as we’ve pointed out, is really inconsequential at this stage), Downes’s more nuanced approach to politics and genuine concern for the people of Kingston, makes him the best candidate.

Sydenham: Nathaniel Erskine-Smith

Sydenham, the ward encompassing the majority of campus and most students, would be best represented by Nathaniel Erskine-Smith. Erskine-Smith is a passionate, genuine and informed candidate, who is dedicated to the community and student issues. The challenges he encountered starting up a panini business sparked his interest in politics, proving his ability to take initiative and use personal experiences to overcome obstacles and create solutions. While Erskine-Smith is certainly pretty green politically, he’s bright and has proven, better than any other candidate in Sydenham, a willingness to learn and to work with others co-operatively. While he will have a lot to learn if he succeeds in securing a position on council, Erskine-Smith is best-suited to represent the interests of all Sydenham residents on city council. Although the AMS did not feel any candidate in this area was worthy of endorsement, it’s essential that the representative in Sydenham has a concern and understanding of students and student issues, but also show the ability to work with those outside of the student community to mend any tension that may arise. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith is that candidate.

Williamsville: Ed Smith

Ed Smith is the incumbent council representative for Williamsville and would be in the best position to continue on in this role. He understands the issues that need to be addressed in the district, is the most experienced and one of the most pragmatic members of the current council. Kingston is in a unique position of growth right now and needs someone who can see the big picture in order to keep the city moving forward. Smith’s business interests in the city (namely, his ownership of Windmills Café and his position as chair of the Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area) are somewhat unsettling, but hopefully they won’t impede or influence his political decisions.

King’s Town: Rob Hutchison

Rob Hutchison would best represent the residents of King’s Town. He is well informed in both local and national political issues and, unlike Mark Potter, actually lives in the district. Hutchison ran for the NDP in the federal election this past January, where he was one of the strongest candidates trying to unseat House Speaker, Peter Milliken. Hutchison will bring experience in politics and specific municipal issues, such as affordable housing (through his work with the XX) to create practical and real solutions to pressing problems.

Portsmouth: Mark Gerretsen

In the area of Portsmouth, Mark Gerretsen is the ideal candidate. Having recently attended both St. Lawrence College and Queen’s University, his knowledge and appreciation of student issues are readily apparent. In addition, he has also been a landlord of both student and non-student rental properties. Gerretsen’s varied experiences and youthful angle on politics will prove valuable when trying to balance student interests with those of the larger community. Gerretsen has the knowledge and level-headed approach that can only be achieved from someone that has been on all sides of the situation.

We encourage all students to exercise their right to vote on Monday. Complete voting information can be found on page seven. Please use our endorsements as but one tool when making your own decision at the polls.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.