NOTL Lord Mayor Betty Disero, West Lincoln Mayor Dave Bylsma and Wainfleet Mayor Kevin Gibson are Among Those Who Lose Their Seats
For Those of Us Looking for More Progressive Leadership on the Environment, on Housing and a Host of other Social Equity Issues, this Municipal Election was a Mixed Bag
A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted October 25th, 2022 on Niagara At Large
One thing is for sure. These October 24th municipal elections in Niagara did not result in the huge purge of incumbents that the 2018 elections did.
In 2018, we were facing then-Niagara Regional chair Al Caslin and his cabal of Halloween spooks at the regional and local levels of municipal governments and voters across the region took full advantage of the elections to clean house.
This time it was different with the Region’s current chair, Jim Bradley, polling (just as he did as a first time candidate for regional council in 2018) in a field of nine, placing him a good position to win the Chair’s seat again if a majority on the new council give him the nod.
Then there were the races for mayor where for better or worse and to no one’s surprise, Jim Diodati racked up another huge win in Niagara Falls.
In other municipalities, veteran municipal leader Wayne Redekop won easily, with 67 per cent of the vote in Fort Erie, Welland Mayor Frank Campion won again in his city, Terry Ugulini won a second term as mayor of Thorold, Bill Steele won a second term as mayor in Port Colborne, Jeff Jordon won a second term as mayor n Grimsby and regional councillor and former city councilor Mat Siscoe literally buried his main opponent Mike Britton, with 68 per cent of the vote, in a race for mayor in St. Catharines where the Britton campaign lappeared to be heavily financed.
Lincoln Mayor Sandra Easton is also back. No one contested her so she was acclaimed.
In the case of the Siscoe/Britton stand-off in St. Catharines, it is good to know that you can still win against someone that smears the landscape with signs, runs costly wrap-around ads in the local newspaper and appears to have – given some of the glowing stories – the establishment media on their side.
There were also losers among those in the mayor’s chair.
West Lincoln Mayor Dave Bylsma, a serial subject of controversy when it came to his involvement in the anti-mask, anti-vaccine and freedom rally crusades, and his opposition to raising a rainbow flag at the township hall on Pride Day, lost to West Lincoln councillor Cheryl Ganann who people more familiar with her than I are sure will bring some reason in that township.
Wainfleet Mayor Kevin Gibson, who once wondered what good amalgamated regional transit system would do for his municipality, lost to Brian Grant, who at age 39 with a young family, will hopefully have a greater appreciation for transit and other regional services, projects and policies that are more environmentally friendly.
Then there is Betty Disero, Lord Mayor for the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, who lost to the town’s one-term regional councillor Gary Zalepa, leaving some in the town to wonder how so much more green space the decidedly right-wing, pro-development Zalepa will pave over.
The news is mixed on the side of who did and who didn’t win seats on regional council and I will leave you with just a few examples.
In St. Catharines, it is great to see Laura Ip and Haley Bateman win with a decisive number of votes, although I can’t figure out why Tim Rigby won yet another term (except for name recognition) while a dynamic representative like Brian Heit is now in a position of having to wait and see if Jim Bradley wins another term as Regional Chair so that he can get bumped up and
Among other things, Heit (unlike Rigby) was one of only a handful on regional council who stood up for openness and accountability against the cabal during the dark days of the Al Caslin administration (between 2014 and 2018), and Brian Heit deserves better than this.
In Fort Erie, Tom Issina, someone who proved to me that a retired RCMP officer can be a strong voice for the environment, won his regional council seat back for a second term too.
Also on the positive side, Diana Huson won a second term as a regional councillor in Pelham and Kim Craitor, a former Liberal MPP and Niagara Falls city councillor, won a regional council seat in Niagara Falls.
The sad news in Niagara Falls is that Barbara Greenwood and Carolynn Ioanoni lost in the regional council race to Joyce Morocco and, God help us, Bob Gale. To add to this big-time bummer, Greenwood lost to Gale by a mere 130 or so votes and Ioannoni, while serving on Niagara Falls city council, was a fierce voice for saving green places like Thundering Water Forest, now a target of foreign (China government based) developers.
One final word here on Gale. It didn’t seem that long ago that the daily newspapers in Niagara ran a great big story on this guy saying he wasn’t going to run for regional council again because he didn’t feel like he “fit in” with the other politicians on the council, as if he is somehow above or better than the rest of them.
Now we have this self-proclaimed misfit for another four years.
This may get me in trouble but how many voters go to the polls with knowledge of the candidates’ records? Or is it just about name recognition, which makes me wonder whether people that ill-informed should be allowed to vote.
Perhaps I better stop there. … at least for now.
And there dear Niagara At Large readers, is my first take on the results of these October 24th, 2022 municipal elections.
If you would like to add something or challenge anything I have said here, please feel free to do so in the comment space below.
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