Wednesday 15 October 2014

Good vibrations: an assessment of Otonabee Ward candidates for Peterborough City Council

This is a simple, tongue-and-cheek assessment of the four Otonabee Ward candidates for the October 27 election to city council in Peterborough, Ontario. La politica has also done assessments, posted separately, for Monaghan Ward, Town Ward, Ashburnham Ward, and Northcrest Ward. Each post has the same introductory paragraphs provided below. can skip those if you are clicking around.

Intro to the assessments

The Ward assessments rely on two scores out of five for a combined score out of ten. The first score is based on a candidate’s vibe, with the second score assessing the stuff and things (stuff n’ things) that the candidate proposes for Peterborough. The vibe scoring is purely subjective, and the score for stuff n’ things doesn’t necessarily take a stand on issues (i.e. parkway, taxation), but simply attempts to assess whether the candidate has material proposals, or is campaigning on vague promises and areas of interest.

The total score out of ten does not provide a breakdown of the category scores out of five, because stuff n’ things can have vibe, too, and some vibe is so off the charts it might even be called a vibe economy, with material effects on stuff n’ things.

You are confused, but not for long. At the end of the ward summary we provide an assessment of who we think might win, and why. Remember: you get two votes, as there are two council seats for each ward.

Otonabee Ward

Otonabee Ward (also “Ward 1”) is in Peterborough’s central south district. In the last election in 2010, 8,280 votes were cast. At that time newcomer Lesley Parnell won with 2,994 votes, about 36% of the total. Dan McWilliams garnered 2,514 votes, or about 30% of all votes, to take the second seat. Both incumbents are running again, and are facing challenges from newcomers Kim Zippel and Stephen Morgan. Camille Parent was running, but has dropped out due to illness.
Otonabee Ward (Ward 1)

Lesley Parnell

Few vibes from Ms. Parnell. Not many ideas, either, though she has a term as councillor under her belt, and is big on high concept promises that claim to be part of a balanced approach to governance. Her website includes numerous photos of her handsome family and her dog, a Golden Retriever. Tough call. She has been endorsed by the Peterborough Labour Council, and voted to remove the Jackson Park bridge from the Parkway plan, though later voted for the overall plan with the bridge. She has a modest vibe ranking and also seems weak on stuff n’ things. She had a very strong showing as a newcomer in the last election. This time Kim Zippel could carve into her support, though Zippel’s name recognition and ground game are weak. Combined ranking for Ms. Parnell: 6.5 out of 10.

Kim Zippel

When referring to Otonabee Ward, Zippel says that “We’re a distinct community of neighbourhoods with schools, churches, green spaces, and a vibrant culture that should be supported.” The local market is a “vibrant hub, our local weekly market is a place to meet your neighbours, try new foods and support local business.”

Along with Zippel’s high vibe ranking, she has some stuff n’ things: zoning changes to allow for more arts, culture, and entertainment in the ward; beautification of the Parkway/115 junction; extending Crawford Drive Trail; and a new, ecologically sensitive management plan for Harper Park. Her economic plan focusses on buy-local initiatives and zoning changes to allow for smaller businesses to operate in residential areas. She also plans a specific push to support “emerging industries” such as flood abatement and storm water management. Who knew.

Zippel wants spending linked to specific community benefits, increased investment on maintenance of existing infrastructure, a tighter rein on external consultants (this has been an issue for years in this town), with all consultant payments to be posted online, in one place.

On the infrastructure side Zippel wants Brealey Drive expanded to four lanes, and water and sewer surcharges to “overdeveloped” properties. Zippel is keen on more public transit and intends to push for alternative energy to decrease our reliance on the PUC grid. The Peterborough Labour Council has also endorsed her. Parkway? No.

Zippel identifies herself as a “wife, mother, volunteer and community activist”. Running for council looks like a retirement project for her. She was formerly a control room operator at Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, and is currently working towards an Honours BSc. in Environmental and Resource Science at Trent University.

We like Kim, though her ground game and name recognition are weak. Respectable vibes, lots of stuff n’ things. She scores a combined 7.

Dan McWilliams

Mr. McWilliams has divided his platform into four categories: community representation; environmental stewardship; economic development; and accountable governance. Each of these has four sub categories, which are mostly aspirational and light on specifics. He is pro-parkway, and could suffer (or benefit) from voters who perceive him to be in Mayor Bennett’s camp.
Like Ms. Parnell, Mr. McWilliams has a photo of him with his family and his dog, also a Golden Retriever.

McWilliams has a low vibe quotient, and is light on stuff n’ things, though he was an active and involved counsellor this past term. Combined vibe to stuff n’ things score: 6.5.

Stephen Morgan

Mr. Morgan is running on a plan to reduce property taxes by ¼ of one percent in the next budget, and to streamline the business application process. He is also responding to constituent concerns that there be sidewalks on Lock Street, and that snowplows slow down. Sure, why not.
A former town councillor in Lindsay, Mr. Morgan received 1,100 votes in the 2007 municipal election in Peterborough. Mr. Morgan does not mention the word “vibrant”, but he is definitely a high vibe candidate. He advises us to enjoy life, share laughter, commit random acts of kindness, smile, and to tell family members that you love them “as much as you can”. Mr. Morgan has a background in improvisational comedy, and could really change the tone on council should he be elected. This is a high vibe, mid-issue candidate, but is he what Otonabee Ward wants? Vibe plus stuff n’ things multiple: 6.

Otonabee Ward Rankings

The Otonabee Ward rankings for the combined vibe and stuff n’ things score are, in descending order:

Kim Zippel: 7
Lesley Parnell: 6.5
Dan McWilliams: 6.5
Stephen Morgan: 6

Otonabee Ward Election Assessment

This is for the incumbents to lose. We expect Lesley Parnell to be returned. Dan McWilliams, despite being pro-parkway and a supporter of the mayor, will be hard to unseat. If he does get tossed, we expect it will be by Kim Zippel, but that appears to be an uphill battle. Morgan is a long-shot.

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