Cities, towns and municipalities across the province went to the polls on October 22, 2018, to elect their new leaders. This year’s election was full of changes, technical glitches, some big upsets, and some heartwarming stories. Let’s take a quick look back, as well as a glance at what we can expect for the next 4 years.
The newly elected candidates will begin their term of office on December 1, 2018, with most municipalities holding an official swearing-in ceremony on or around that date. Family, friends, local dignitaries and the outgoing council are generally invited to celebrate the newly elected members and welcome them to the chambers. The newly elected council will serve until November 14, 2022.
Any candidate who filed a nomination for the 2018 election must also file a complete and accurate financial statement to their municipality’s clerk by 2 PM on March 29, 2019. Your bookkeeper or accountant may file on your behalf but it must be done by this deadline.
November 15, 2022, is also an important date as all candidates and newly elected members must retain their campaign financial records until the next council takes office.
The 2018 municipal brought about many changes to the voting process, most notable being the introduction of online voting. Nearly half of the province’s 444 municipalities offered e-voting this year, with 51 of the participating communities reporting issues. These technical glitches saw voting deadlines extended anywhere from a few hours to a full day. All of the municipalities who experienced problems were using the same voting systems company who experienced broadband issues with their server.
For the first time in Canadian history, the City of London conducted its municipal election by ranked ballot. As opposed to the usual first-past-the-post system, in which voters choose only one mayoral candidate and one council candidate, with a ranked ballot system, voters have the ability to rank three mayoral and council candidates by preference – the most preferred candidate is marked as the first choice, the least preferred the third choice. The experience of ranked ballots in some U.S. cities has seen increased voter turnout and diversity on city council. At the recent Western University Local Government Interrupted Conference, the City Clerk reported that while there was definitely a learning curve for both staff and voters, the use of ranked ballots has been deemed a success for the city.
SOME NOTABLE VICTORIES
The City of Oshawa elected former regional and city councillor, Dan Carter, as Mayor. Carter believes that his challenging past has prepared him for the next four years. Carter has openly shared his past battles with alcohol, drug addiction and homelessness. He has also dealt with mental health issues, survived a childhood sexual assault and was illiterate until his early 30s.
The longest serving Mayor in the province, Gord Krantz, was re-elected for his 21st term in the City of Milton, extending his career to 42 years. Krantz is currently 81 years old and has held the position since 1980.
One of the province’s biggest upsets was in Brampton, as former Ontario PC Party leader Patrick Brown was elected Mayor. 2018 was a whirlwind year for Brown as he was forced to resign from the party. He then made a short-lived run for the leadership of the Ontario Conservatives then as Chair of Peel Region before deciding to run for Mayor in his newly adopted City of Brampton. Brown won the seat in a tight race against popular incumbent mayor Linda Jeffrey.
Whether you live in a big city or a small rural community, many of our newly elected leaders are facing the same issues. Affordable housing, infrastructure concerns, the legalization of cannabis and tackling the opiate crisis are all high priorities for councils across the province.
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