The same criterion is also useful for sifting non-incumbents, although it’s more restricted. We haven’t had the same opportunity to witness non-incumbents in action to see how they behave at City Hall. Most candidates are still untried. Except for one: Don Bonner.
Bonner is the one non-incumbent who has demonstrated his will to fight for voters in the crucible of Nanaimo Council. His dogged pursuit to get the information from the current council that voters needed about the Event Centre, finances, the Core Review, Question Period, and other issues amounted to an operational definition of fortitude. Bonner’s submissions and persistence under fire made me wish he was an official delegate on our behalf. As did his willingness to listen. Over the past four years, I watched him evolve into the kind of councillor we need.
Bonner, along with Armstrong, also scores highly on the other selection factors like honesty and integrity. For this reason, I am putting him and Armstrong on my list of Selected Candidates. Not the Shortlist of those whom I’m still considering, but the final list of those who already get my vote. That leaves me looking for six more candidates to fill the vacant seats.
I have written elsewhere about the measures I use to choose candidates I think are strongest. Along with honesty and integrity, the criteria include; apparent conflicts of interests/allegiances; ties to old Nanaimo factions; management skills and experience; education; fiscal competence; intelligence and ability to think critically; and having both a local and a global vision.
Keeping these criteria in mind, I go through the information currently available from sources like: Nanaimonet.com and OurNanaimo.com; the candidate’s website if they have one; filed financial statements; and other documentation provided. On that basis, I eliminate twenty-eight of the thirty-eight remaining candidates. I drop from further consideration those I believe show a relative weakness in relevant experience, education, vague or superficial platforms, or what seems poor suitability for Nanaimo’s broad range of needs. Some have problematic connections or business interests I think pose a conflict of interest. A couple appear mainly to be looking for a job. Some appear to be ideally suited for a position on a City committee, but to be blunt, not on Council. When I’m done, I have eight candidates for the six remaining Councillor positions.
To me, these eight candidates most embody the traits we desire in our Council. But not all to the same degree. Some are weaker than others on particular aspects; some are stronger. But we are still almost a month away from the election. So, In practice, my Shortlist really is a list of those on whom I’ll focus my attention in the next four weeks. Those candidates who made the cut are: Tyler Brown, Ben Geselbracht, Erin Hemmens, Zeni Maartman, Alexis Petersen, Noah Routley, Jim Turley, and Peter Urquhart.
To be honest, I’m not entirely comfortable with the list I have compiled. For one thing, the experience and stated focus of selected candidates seems disproportionately tilted towards those who have experience in the social services. Hands-on financial training and work experience seem in short supply. The list also hints at a gender imbalance. Even more obvious is the lack of those from different ethnic groups. Only Bonner, a member of the Algonquin First Nation, represents an ethnic minority. The list looks predominantly white and male.
Another deficit is equally important. On this list, only Sheryl Armstrong provides continuity with the outgoing administration. This seems potentially problematic with steep learning curves as new councillors take on important duties. It’s for this reason, I re-consider Wendy Pratt and Ian Thorpe. Neither passed my voter-protection test, but one or both may have valuable Council experience that would be of benefit to voters. Perhaps — provided we have others looking out for voter interests — Pratt and Thorpe could overcome the disadvantage of choosing mostly newcomers. So I’m adding Thorpe and Pratt to my Shortlist.
That makes twelve including Armstrong and Bonner. I’ve reduced the forty candidates running for Councillor to an even dozen. Not bad.
As the campaign goes on and I see the candidates in action at the various public meetings, being interviewed, at large in the community, and I gain more information, I’ll be able to solidify my first impressions, revisit choices, and further narrow the list of prospects. Maybe I’ll reconsider someone I previously eliminated. This first cull is not necessarily permanent, nor completely closed. What’s more important is the final list I take into the polling booth.
Which is really the value of a shortlist. Narrowing the field now allows me to concentrate on the candidates I think are strongest and not be distracted by the weaker. It reduces the noise in the campaign. In making a preliminary cull I got a measure of all forty candidates, so I know who is in the running and their relative strengths. Now with a much shorter list, I can focus on only those I think are best.
Next week, I’ll consider the candidates for Mayor. With only three candidates running, the process will, hopefully, be simpler.
Don White’s Choices for Councillor
Shortlisted for Further Consideration