A Brief Commentary by Doug Draper, reporter and publisher, Niagara At Large
Posted October 29th, 2018 on Niagara At Large
In the days following the October 22nd municipal elections, I floated the names of two individuals on Niagara At Large that might throw their hats in the ring to replace Al Caslin as Niagara regional chair.
I’m surprised that at least one of the names floated here – that of Bob Gales, a regional councillor for the City of Niagara Falls – did not trigger a little more reaction from readers given Gales’ record during this past term of the Region’s council.
For critics of the outgoing council, it was a record of marching in lock step with the rest of Caslin’s fellow travellers – known to many across Niagara as Caslin’s cabal – on a number of issues that provoked a good deal of public controversy.
I floated Gale’s name because a number of political insiders across the region have told me they have reason to believe he is already out there, working to line up the support he or anyone else interested in the position would need from newly elected or re-elected members of the Region’s council who will decide who they will ultimately appoint to it.
Thanks to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who decided last July to cancel what would have been the first region-wide election for chair in Niagara’s regional government’s 48 year history, we are back to the old system where members of the Region’s newly sworn in council get to decide who is chair.
If enough members of council wanted to, they could for example, choose someone from outside their newly elected or re-elected ranks, for the position, and it is not outside the realm of possibilities that outsiderscould be considered here.
However, such a move would likely draw criticism from people who believe that any candidate for the regional chair’s job should be someone who received enough votes from the public to win a seat on the Region’s council in the municipal elections.
So for the moment at least, there is word out there that Gale is lining up support for the job from individuals who will make up the next regional council. A number of citizens across Niagara have also expressed hope that Jim Bradley, a former St. Catharines MPP and veteran politician who has held several Ontario cabinet posts and who topped the polls for a regional council seat in St. Catharins, will put his name in play for the job.
To date, Bradley has yet to decide if he will enter his name for the position.
If Bradley did enter his name and was chosen for the job by a majority of councillors, that would mean that Kelly Edgar, a St. Catharines regional councillor who fell just short of winning one of the city’s six seats this time, would be first in line to fill the seat Bradley won and would have to vacate to assume the chair’s role.
If, on the other hand, Gale was appointed by councillors to serve as the Region’s next chair, Selina Volpatti, who failed in her run for another term on the regional council in Niagara Falls, would be first in line to serve on the council again.
Niagara At Large is still waiting to find out what Jim Bradley will decide to do and has yet to receive a response from Gale on whether or not he is campaigning for the position.
We will have much more to say on Niagara At Large about the contest for the regional chair’s job in the days ahead. And if it turns out to be a contest between Gale and Bradley, we will certainly have much more to say about these two individuals and their records of service because the differences between them, in this reporter’s view, are stark, and the tone and agenda they would set for the coming term of regional council would be just as significant and consequential for our region’s future.
In the view of this reporter, the choice of who will serve as Niagara’s next regional chair – a choice that was unfortunately taken away from Niagara’s voters at large – is just as important for our future as the choices made in the October 22nd municipal elections.
And that makes the outcome of the race for Niagara regional chair extremely consequential for our region and for the future of every one of us who lives and works here.
What do you think?
A Footnote from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper – If you want to have a voice in who should be Niagara’s regional chair, contact those elected to the Region’s council in your municipality and let them know who you want them to support for the job.
Do not hesitate to contact your municipality’s clerk’s department to get the names and contact information for your newly elected or re-elected regional councillors to voice your views on this important issue. It is your right and it is your future that is at stake.
NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie Sanders quote below.
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“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders