I know the city election is already a couple days old and mostly forgotten. There are only a few twitter trolls left to torment Billy Goat Novak. The rest have returned to their twitter bridge homes. So I can’t imagine anyone really cares about my pre-election picks and how they fared versus reality. If I’d wanted them to be relevant/interesting I should have written this post yesterday morning at the latest but I really needed a day away from the blog, out on the town, watching the big machines at construction sites with Young Master Dash.
So, irrelevant as they are, here are my picks. Which I literally wrote on a slip of paper, sealed in an envelope and am revealing here for the first time. And please keep in mind, this is a list of people I expected to win, not who I necessarily wanted to win.
And yes, because I know you’re wondering, my lapels are just as magnificent in real life as they appear in those pics above.
Mayor: Michael Fougere
Ward 1: Barbara Young
Ward 2: Heather McIntyre (real winner: Bob Hawkins)
Ward 3: Susan Birley (real winner: Shawn Fraser)
Ward 4: Tina Beaudry-Mellor (real winner: Bryon Burnett)
Ward 5: John Findura
Ward 6: Wade Murray
Ward 7: Sharron Bryce
Ward 8: Michael O’Donnell
Ward 9: Terry Hincks
Ward 10: Jerry Flegel
After the jump, a few notes on why I made the picks I did.
Mayor Michael Fougere
This seemed a no brainer — to me anyway — even before that Insightrix poll came out which showed Fougere in the lead and Donnelly and Okochi splitting the bulk of the rest of the vote. In fact, if I’d thought of it, I could have sealed my predictions for what the first poll would show in an envelope and it probably would have squared pretty well with what Insightrix ultimately came out with.
Of course, Insightrix had Donnelly and Okochi basically neck and neck for second place and in the end the vote was a little more spread out. Fougere took the election with 21,685 votes which translates into 42.4 per cent of the votes cast. Donnelly, considering she was up against a long-time councillor, came in a pretty close second with 16,240 votes or 31.8 per cent. And Okochi took third with an entirely respectable 8,960 or 17.5 per cent.
The rest were far behind. Brass captured 2,616 votes for 5.1 per cent. Elliott took 481 votes for 0.9 per cent. Novak took 413 votes for 0.8 per cent. Wiebe took 341 votes for 0.7 per cent. Siekawitch took 195 votes or 0.4 per cent. And Brown took 172 votes for 0.3 per cent
Now the reason I figured Fougere had things pretty much sewn up was that, first of all, name recognition I’ve read is the most important factor in municipal politics. Knowledge of challengers is harder to come by in city elections where debates are almost never televised and you can’t get a quick sense of a person’s stance based on the party they represent. So people are more likely to go with a name they recognize than gamble on an unknown who could easily be some deluded weirdo who managed to terrorize 25 people into signing his nomination papers and scrounged the $100 nomination fee off the corpses of his victims.
(What? It’s almost Halloween. A rhetorical serial killer seemed apropos.)
The other thing is, according to most of the people I spoke to, the city is seen as being in pretty good shape. The people who are comfortable with the way things are would probably rather hand the reigns of the city off to someone with experience in municipal politics rather than hand things over to someone new with plans to change things.
Lastly, there was the whole vote splitting problem. Donnelly and Okochi were both extremely popular candidates who were each able to inspire large, loyal followings. That’s a problem when you’re going up against someone who’s basically an incumbent.
Of course, some have pointed out (like Emmet Matheson) that Okochi probably drew a lot of support from Fougere so maybe he wasn’t splitting the electorate quite so much. And I think there’s truth to that. People definitely liked his focus on development and his international experience. And, man, those suits! Guy just looked like a serious player. (And I’d love to know who his tailor is.) Those are all things that would appeal to someone friendly to Fougere’s stance. So even if Okochi wasn’t in the race, a goodly chunk of his support may have gone to Fougere. And some may have even gone to Brass who’s a real estate developer by day.
But then again, things aren’t quite that simple. Donnelly is also an entrepreneur and local business woman. I think she was also drawing off some of Fougere’s support.
So who frickin’ knows? This is all complete speculation.
All I do know is that, to beat Fougere in a scenario where Okochi hadn’t run, Donnelly would have had to capture around 85 per cent of the votes Okochi received if she was to squeak out a win.*
How likely you think that was pretty much determines how much of a factor vote splitting was in this election.
I picked Barbara Young here and was right. She gained 2,222 votes (36.2 per cent), narrowly beating her closest competitor, Shawn Kuster (1,970, 32.1 per cent).
I had heard that Kuster was going to be pretty strong and that turned out to be the case. He and Young traded the top spot all night as the results were coming in and the ward wasn’t decided until pretty much every poll was in.
I’d gone with Young though because of her service on the school board. I remember her winning the trustee spot in the last election pretty handily so figured she had a lot of support in the area. And in the end she had just enough to beat Kuster who was also well known in the ward and had run there before.
Here I picked Heather McIntyre just because she ran a really strong race in the last election against an incumbent, Jocelyn Hutchinson, so I figured she has established herself well enough in the ward that she could carry the day this time out.
Have to admit, though, that after the ward two candidate forum I attended, I thought Bob Hawkins would also be very strong. He was an extremely practiced speaker and played the candidate game really well. Plus, he’d been involved with the Lakeview Community Association, and that kind of community connection is, I suspect, priceless when running to represent a ward. But I didn’t pick Hawkins because I thought his less-than-illustrious, 15-month tenure as president of the University of Regina and the fact that he wasn’t able to win the Regina-Lakeview riding for the Sask Party juggernaut in the last provincial election would have worked against him. But apparently Lakeview residents were willing to overlook all that on the 24th.
As it turns out though I really shouldn’t have assumed this riding was going to be a race between McIntyre and Hawkins. While Hawkins took the ward with 1,764 votes (28 per cent) to very narrowly beat McIntyre’s 1,672 votes (26.5 per cent), Richard Ditrrick was completely in the running with 1,659 votes (26.3 per cent) as was Sam Khan who was only slightly behind the leaders with 1,210 votes (19.2 per cent).
Talk about vote splitting. This was a four-way race right to the end. I wonder if there’s been a recount or seven here?
Wrong again. Here I picked Birley. But as it turns out, Shawn Fraser won the ward handily with 2,203 votes (20 per cent) versus Birley’s 1,049 (20 per cent).
I knew that Fraser would do well. His organization was really strong, he had a lot of really loyal supporters and he had arguably the most number of (and best designed) lawn signs. But I knew that Birley also had a huge number of supporters and she had a lot of connections in the community through her involvement with things like the Friends of the Regina Public Library.
I’d also been speaking to a long-time resident of the ward at the Cathedral candidates forum and he said that Birley would have a lock on the “old lady vote.”
“Whoever gets the old lady vote in Cathedral wins Ward Three,” he told me. (Note: This is me reporting on someone else being ageist and sexist. I’m telling a story not endorsing a perspective.)
So I figured I should put some stock in what the guy was saying. Silly me.
Here I picked Tina Beaudry-Mellor and was once again wrong. She finished well with 2,541 votes (38.2 per cent) but that wasn’t enough to beat Bryon Burnett’s 2,575 votes (38.7 per cent).
I picked Beaudry-Mellor just because her and her supporters were such a fixture in the #yqrvotes “discussions” on Twitter. And as I couldn’t really distinguish between her and Burnett’s platform, I just went with that single, social-media based metric when making my pick.
And that did seem to show she had a lot of support because once again this was a squeaker of a race that could have easily gone to her.
Wards Five Through Nine
In all of these, I went with the incumbents. My reasoning was pretty much the same as for why I picked Fougere for mayor. For most people, the city seems to be working pretty well, they’re not going to risk that by voting on someone new. Plus, when I was out talking to people about the election, by and large most people — even the ones who said they were happy to see Fiacco leaving — said they thought the current council was doing a good job.
And as it turns out, all the incumbents took their wards without too much trouble. John Findura beat former councillor Bill Gray once again to take Ward 5 with 2,306 votes (48.1 per cent). Wade Murray took Ward 6 with 1,055 votes (49.1 per cent). Sharron Bryce took Ward 7 with 2,389 votes (59.8 per cent). O’Donnell won a strong mandate in Ward 8 with 2,762 votes (63 per cent). And Terry Hincks with 2,090 votes (39.8 per cent) just beat out Harold Knight’s 1,810 votes (34.4 per cent) to take Ward 9.
This was the one place where I bet against an incumbent and was right. I picked Jerry Flegel who did manage to win the ward but, ho man, this one was close. This went right down to the final poll. But Flegel did end up winning it with 2,658 votes (51.9 per cent) versus Chris Szarka’s 2,460 votes (48.1 per cent).
While Flegel was the challenger here, he had been councillor in the ward until Szarka beat him in 2009. I figured that would make him just about as strong as an incumbent in this election. And Szarka — a councillor I actually liked, for the record, so don’t give me shit claiming I’m trash talking him here — was a pretty quiet presence on council. I don’t know how much of an impact he had on the hearts and minds of the ward’s residents. Plus, it didn’t seem like he mounted that strong of a campaign. He’d have to know that Flegel would be a strong competitor, hungry for a win. To win this fight, Szarka needed to be in top electoral form — have the Eye of the Tiger, if you will — but he just didn’t seem to have enough of a fire in his belly to go the distance and take the cup. (Do I get a prize for the most number of sports cliches in a single paragraph? No? I’ll try harder next time, coach.)
* * * * *
My final score was eight correct guesses out of eleven contests, or 72.7 per cent. Not bad, I suppose. But considering I got all the tough-to-call races wrong — wards two, three and four — I’m giving myself only a very narrow pass.
And that’s it for my 2012 City Election Picks. And with this post, my city election coverage comes to an end.
Many thanks to David Loblaw and his reginaelection.com page which was an invaluable resource throughout the election and is, in fact, where I cut and pasted all these numbers from. (I had my own notes but his page was actually easier to navigate.) And thanks as well to everyone who followed us on Twitter and who participated in election discussions here on the blog.
Oh yeah, and great heaping gobs of thanks to all the candidates who ran (especially the ones who played along with our candidate questionnaire). Without all of you I’d have had nothing to do.
* I’m assuming that the remaining 15 per cent of the Okochi vote would have gone to Fougere. Obviously, including Brass in my calculations would complicate things. And apologies to Meka for not figuring out what he’d need to win if Donnelly were to drop out. My algebra is really rusty and I can’t remember how to solve for two variables in an equation so I had to figure out that 85 per cent number with trial and error. Which is slow and clumsy. So I just got as close as I could with this one scenario and left there. (UPDATE: My wife, the math prof, just pointed out a really easy way to figure all this out that I should have thought of. But in trying to be really clever, I ended up making the problem way more complicated than it needed to be. Which is exactly the opposite of really clever. It’s really stupid.)