Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

The tiebreaker



By G.D. Maxwell

This is undoubtedly my most important column of the new year… so far. Okay, cheap joke. But it is important and it is about local politics. Bear with me though, there’s a surprise in here somewhere.

As surprises go it’s nowhere as good as 107 centimetres of snow on Christmas day but it’s way better than having some knob from Washington choose the Marketplace parking lot and the front of your beater as the setting to discover he doesn’t know the difference between reverse and drive in his sport virility vehicle. As Michael says, "Do they drive this way at home?"

So we’ve dodged the ghost of the season of ’76, all the ghosts of Christmas, the fuzzy ghosts of New Year’s and as soon as we get the Election That Won’t End over with, we can get on with our hedonistic pleasures, sliding merrily down uncrowded weekday mountains, drinking in uncrowded bars, choosing with whom we’re civil. But there is that pesky runoff election coming up in a week. Damned inconvenient that.

It’s still pretty hard to believe that with over 3,100 people casting ballots last November the same number of people voted for two different candidates… for the sixth and final council seat no less. In a more perfect democracy, we’d only be voting for one of those two people. Let’s face it, the other nine lost once already. But our local election laws seem to have been written in the same spirit of Canadian inclusiveness that lets all but the absolutely worst teams into the hockey playoffs. I don’t get it.

There is no understandable concept of fairness that embraces letting the losers run over again in a runoff election caused by the tie of the two people who beat them all once. It amounts to one monumental do-over worthy of the Seinfeld writers. The voters were heard once, y’all lost. What are you still doing here?

I understand the desire to run for public office, the chance to serve your community, leave your mark, do good deeds, have a say in what needs to be said. And I respect everyone who ran. Heck, some of ’em I even like. But I can’t seriously believe any one of the nine who received fewer votes than Marianne Wade and Dave Kirk think it’s fair – or democratic – that they should be joining in a runoff election. I wish them well next time around and think several of them would be good councillors, but that should be decided three years from now.

Yes, that’s the way the rules read. But funny thing about that, I haven’t been able to find anyone who can explain to me why the rules are set up that way. Who, in antiquity, thought this was the correct way to settle a tie? And it gets worse! Apparently this municipality, any municipality, can pass a bylaw allowing ties to be settled in more expedient ways. Toss of a coin. Drawing of a lot. Pistols at dawn. Whatever.

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