Just be careful is all. And informed. It’s easy to align with a man who is frustrated like you are about the current state of affairs, but having that one thing in common doesn’t mean you’re aligned with all of his values. Feeling that way is like saying I have a lot in common with anyone who also hates tomatoes. A common anger is no reason to elect a man as mayor.
There are three candidates for mayor at the moment; a seasoned councilor in Danny Breen, a community hero in Renee Sharpe, and a climate-change denier and 3-time former mayor in Andy Wells (1997-2008), who prides himself on not giving a f*ck.
His nonchalance is good and bad. It means he’ll cut to the chase and get work done, blowing through petty complaints from the electorate, or it means he’ll take a stand where most politicians wouldn’t: it was pretty badass of Wells to fly the Tibetan flag off city hall in 1998, during a visit by a Chinese delegation, to protest the Chinese occupation of Tibet.
But his trademarked “rough and gruff” persona also doesn’t care much about anyone’s visions beyond his own. Wells once called David Suzuki a “junk scientist.” That’s how illogical and caught up in his own ideologies he is.
You can write off scientists as leftist granolas if that’s your bizarre inclination, but c’mon: Suzuki’s integrity is off limits. He is to Canada what maple syrup, poutine, and beavers are. Iconic and unquestionably good.
It’s public knowledge Wells has been publicly and privately badgering members of council. He emailed Councillor Danny Breen — who is now running against him for mayor — saying things like, “You’re either a nincompoop or liar. In my opinion, you are both.”
It’s easy to laugh at that, and share in any frustrations you have with current council, but do we want a mayor who behaves so poorly, and so reminiscent of Donald Trump? Condoning his behaviour is akin to saying yes.
There is a courteous and productive way to illicit change from a person/council. Bullying them doesn’t work. It’s childish, petty, and unproductive. People have to work together to achieve a common goal. Yet Wells is a man who famously told Shannie Duff he can’t wait to “piss on her grave,” because she often countered his points when they were on council together. How cordial of him.
So while it’s easy to “vote for change” because you’re pissed off with the current state of affairs, placing that blind hope for change in Andy Wells is indeed an act of blindness. Blindness to history. Can you really trust a man who left the mayoral position to accept a job as chairman of Public Utilities Board, only to be suspended from that role?
Still, Andy Wells is bound to get elected the way Trump did. He’s trashing the way it’s been, vaguely promising big change, acting like a non-politician “real person” by raging against “the corrupt system” (so people think he’s “one of them”).
This act is likely to work on the majority of the general public, but shaking it up for the sake of shaking it up doesn’t shake out well. Ask America. It’s best to vote for the person with whom your ideals and visions align, not the person shoutingthe loudest.
Besides, a mayoral candidate who makes his announcement from a Tim Hortons (as Andy Wells did) has a lot of explaining to do to a city constantly badgering council for their lack of support of downtown businesses. Wells doesn’t have to like good coffee, but he can at least pretend to support local businesses. Can he even name a local cafe?
This city is struggling to accommodate cultural growth, and achieve the things that make cities liveable and attractive for skilled workers and the next generation of townies. But Wells’s platform so far is one of angry vengeance, not visionary evolution.
We don’t need yesterday’s ideas, today. We need today’s ideas for tomorrow, and we need forward momentum, not regression to a previous mayor whose 10-year legacy as former mayor is unclear. So give us some idea of what you envision for St. John’s, Wells, beyond lowering taxes (taxes that pay for city services).
Wells wasn’t a terrible mayor. In fact there were noble moments. When Wells had to step down as mayor to assume his role as chair of PUB, he delayed doing so to avoid a by-election that Wells claims would’ve cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars. But he wasn’t a legend either; his legacy is “he shouted a lot.”
But such is modern life that he’ll get in by his antics. Look around this world of Trudeaus, Trumps, Erdogans, and Putins. Personality beats platforms. Andy Wells is going to be mayor unless someone as charismatic runs against him, brashly, and with much media attention. Go mad, Danny Breen or Renee Sharpe, or go home.
ARTICLE BY: Someone anonymous who’d rather not be a public enemy of the incoming mayor.