Letters to the Editors

‘No shame’ in running for city council

Dear Editors:

Re: "AMS endorses Rosen for mayor " (Journal, October 27, 2006).

I would like to record my amazement on discovering that the AMS Assembly has chosen to endorse candidates in the upcoming municipal elections.

According to the Journal, this means that “municipal affairs commission volunteers can help with the incumbent Rosen’s campaign, that he receives positive publicity from the AMS and written endorsement for his campaign material.” There are many reasons why this is inappropriate, but chief among them is the fact that the AMS, among its many roles, serves as a liaison between Queen’s and city residents, and thus should be a neutral body.

Now that the AMS has decided to officially back a candidate for mayor, it has lost its credibility in the community. I am having second thoughts about using AMS services such as the P&CC since this no longer seems to be a simple way of supporting Queen’s, but rather a means of providing indirect support for a particular political candidate.

Secondly, although it is appropriate for the AMS to organize all-candidates debates for students, we should keep in mind that the majority of students will be gone within four years, while decisions made by the mayor and council will have long-lasting consequences. The AMS has no business attempting to sway student votes for what can only be short-term gains. The municipal election has produced some unpleasant and illegal behaviour—people on Albert Street, specifically those who do not support the AMS choice, have had their signs stolen repeatedly. It doesn’t matter that the AMS itself would not counsel this sort of behaviour, nor that it claims not to be making up students’ minds for them.

By coming out in favour of a particular candidate, the AMS is responsible for exacerbating town/gown conflict, rather than repairing it.

--Ruth Wehlau
English professor and Kingston resident

AMS loses its credibility after municipal election endorsements

Dear Editors:

Re: “Student candidates shut out” (Journal election extra, November 14, 2006).

Last place is not the most flattering of positions, especially in an election. One-hundred and sixty-three votes are not too many in comparison to the other candidates that ran here in Sydenham.

I have no shame in running in this election and I was glad to run. Collectively, the two students had about 460 votes. Bill Glover, who is not our city councilor, had 1,180 votes and Floyd Patterson had 912. Whether or not Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and I were running against each other, we didn’t have a prayer.

Smith has blamed his defeat partially on me, simply because I was another student and derailed his chances to win by splitting the vote. This argument is terribly undemocratic.

Everyone has the right to run, student or not. Democracy is about fair and competitive elections, not a buffet line where it’s first come, first serve. I’m surprised that Erskine-Smith, as a fourth-year politics student, even bothered to make this immature argument. Moreover, he lost the focus. The moment I registered to run in Sydenham, his campaign shifted from some important issues that the city should consider to “why you shouldn’t vote for Alex Huntley.”

In fact, instead of concentrating his efforts on getting students out to vote for him, he was busy advertising to students why not to vote for me through extremely biased documents such as his “Comparative analysis: An open letter to students,” Facebook ads, and his articles on his website. How could he argue that we split the vote if, collectively, we didn’t have enough votes to beat Patterson’s second place?

It wasn’t vote splitting that prevented a shut-out of student from getting on council; it was student apathy. Students felt a lack of motivation to get out to the polls. I realized this first-hand through canvassing in the student ghetto. Students didn’t say that they were not voting because two students were running against each other, but because they either did not have the time or the reason to care about Kingston municipal politics.

As candidates and as fellow students, we failed miserably in giving students a reason to vote. Therefore, it would be arrogant of either one of us to say that we lost because two of us ran. I hope Nathaniel uses his intelligence, which he mentioned in his open letter, and realizes this point before he decides to run for office again.

--Alex Huntley
ArtSci ’08

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