Don’t split the progressive vote come October
We are less than a year away from choosing a new mayor of Kawartha Lakes. Only one serious contender has clearly declared his candidacy as of press time — lawyer Jason Ward.
Ward’s exact stance on key issues in the city are not known yet. In his campaign launch interview with the Advocate on Oct. 29, he said he wanted to take the time to meet people and hear their concerns. However, he did say in the same interview that “the priority of municipal government should be to do no harm.”
We think it is safe to say he is on the progressive side. A former Liberal candidate in the 2003 provincial election, Ward and his wife and partner Karissa Ward, have built Wards Lawyers into one of the major law firms of central Ontario.
Other progressives thinking about running for mayor — some just as qualified as Ward — should think hard before declaring their intent, at least for the 2022 election. The obvious risk of other progressives throwing in their hats would be to split the vote, allowing a more conservative fiscal hawk to come up the middle and win.
This is not the time for some major swing of the pendulum back to the bad old days of Conservative Premier Mike Harris with draconian cuts to services. We need a steady, caring hand in the mayor’s seat.
Progressives at the municipal level are not — and cannot — be cut from the same cloth as their federal counterparts. They can’t run massive deficits or print money to see their policy priorities happen. They must be far more pragmatic — and it is tapping into that pragmatism that will see them succeed.
We would encourage these other progressive voices to consider running for council. After all, even a mayor only has one vote. A progressive mayor surrounded by conservative councillors will accomplish few priorities. A thoughtful, progressive slate of councillors could help offer steady leadership in the coming four years.