For a man who has scored two very impressive mayoralty election victories, Burlington’s Rick Goldring is under attack and the pressure is likely to increase right up until Oct. 22 when voters go to the polls.
When she announced in April she was going to challenge Goldring for the mayor’s job, Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward said the city currently has a leadership vacuum being filled by private interests that she’d rather fill with the voices of residents.
Former Burlington MP Mike Wallace, who announced his candidacy for mayor in January, said something similar.
“I think the mayor’s chair requires a leader and leadership skills that are more collaborative than what we have,” he said.
Goldring, who was first out of the gate announcing his candidacy in October of 2017, naturally, begs to differ.
“I’m very proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish over the last eight years on council,” he said.
When he was first elected mayor in 2010, Goldring was heard proclaiming his approval at the election of Meed Ward as councillor for Ward 2. But over time the admiration has declined. Meed Ward has criticized the mayor for what she termed as doing nothing during the proposed closing of schools in Burlington, even though it is basically a matter for the board of education.
Leadership also was a major issue in two previous Burlington elections of some significance
In 1976, 51.4 per cent of the eligible voters turned out as Mary Munro defeated incumbent George Harrington in the race for mayor.
Munro charged that Harrington was skipping meetings and, in fact, statistics confirmed that he had been absent from more than 40 per cent of committee meetings in 1974.
Councillors Goldring and Carol D’Amelio challenged incumbent Cam Jackson for the mayor’s job in 2010, with Goldring describing the mayor’s style as autocratic.
Goldring won, with a 37.6 per cent turnout at the polls, in what many considered a major upset.
Meanwhile, Meed Ward has threatened legal action against Campaign Research, a Toronto-based polling company, which allegedly linked her to a statement she made in a column for The Toronto Sun. The company has suggested she advised women to stay in marriages even if they are being abused.
The Bay Observer contacted Campaign Research for comment, but no calls had been returned by press time.
Jim Young, one of Meed Ward’s supporters, tipped her off after he received a phone call from the company asking him to answer a series of questions.
“They know this is potentially slanderous and they’ve got to stop,” Meed Ward said.
“This survey is completely inappropriate and inflammatory. It’s an attempt, thinly disguised, to target one mayoralty candidate, and that’s me.
“The damage already has been done. I have already called a lawyer and we’re looking into any election fraud or criminal activity.
“The people paying for it need to come out of the darkness and show their faces so the public can hold them to account.”
Meed Ward’s competitors in the mayoralty race, Goldring, Wallace and Greg Woodruff all have denounced the survey.
Campaign Research seems to have toned down its list of questions. This writer was contacted about a week later. I was asked if I would support “a candidate” who advises women to stay in marriages where they are being abused, but no name was mentioned this time.
Campaign Research got itself in hot water in 2012 when some of its employees told voters in Liberal MP Irwin Cotler’s riding in Montreal that he had quit or was about to quit.
Nick Kouvalis, one of the company’s principal’s, once served as chief of staff for the late Rob Ford when he was mayor of Toronto and also was a campaign manager for Ford.
So far six election debates have been scheduled for Sept. 19 and 25, Oct. 2, 3, 9 and 11.
With Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven and Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor both retiring and Meed Ward running for mayor, Burlington is assured of having three new members of council.
Eleven candidates have registered to contest the Ward 1 council seat being vacated by Craven and six are contesting the Ward 2 seat. There are five hopefuls in Ward 3. Jack Dennison, Paul Sharman and Blair Lancaster all are seeking re-election in Wards 4, 5 and 6, respectively.