Nanaimo sure exercised its democratic right to run for office.
This November’s civic election is shaping up to be a wild one, with 10 candidates running for mayor.
It’s the most mayoral hopefuls the city has seen, and it’s a lot of names for citizens to consider when they mark their ballots a month from now. There are some political heavyweights on the list, including current and former mayors and councillors, and past mayoral contenders.
With so many names, it will become more important for these men and women to distinguish themselves. In a three-way race, for example, voters – and media – might be tempted to pigeonhole candidates into the left, right or centre of the spectrum. In a nine-way race, those kind of labels mean less, because candidates now have to differentiate themselves from those with similar political leanings.
A more muddled mayoral race could also mean a wider vote split, which could have interesting ramifications. A candidate who centres his or her campaign around a single issue will have a real chance to win, depending on how the rest of the vote splits.
Municipal elections tend to attract a low voter turnout, and that problem could be magnified this Nov. 15. Mathematically, our next mayor could be elected with a lower percentage of the popular vote than ever before, and an ‘underdog’ candidate might have a greater chance this year than in years past.
Come election night, all this is likely to cause some grumbling, from runners-up and voters alike, about the shortcomings of the first-past-the-post system, and rightly so.
But maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves. It’s only the beginning of mayor madness in Nanaimo, and the next five weeks will be fascinating. Perhaps the cream of the candidates will rise to the top, to inspire us, to earn our votes and to lead our city.