Tame Your Rage: Electing Andy Wells Because You’re Mad is Mad

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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. 

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24 Comments

  1. I like what you said in most of this piece. You definitely have a lot of points about people electing personality and I do think there is something to be said for that too. I even agree with you that Tim’s is bad coffee, but who cares that he didn’t announce at a local shop? Apparently this is where he frequents and just because some hipster doesn’t run the Tim’s in Churchill Square doesn’t make it any less vital to the community. I am a high school teacher and I know that location as well as others in the city provide jobs to a lot of my students as well as to others. The company is also involved in the community. My point isn’t to even pick up for them, or Wells even. I thought to suggest that Wells doesn’t support small business because he was at a chain coffee shop was a bit of a stretch… though he may have very well made such a statement.

    It will definitely be an interesting election that’s for sure.

  2. There is surprise and mounting evidence that Andy has chilled out in his older age. Let’s not write him off as a mad, bad choice just yet?

  3. I agree with all the “personality trumps platform” points here. But the piece should also address he’ll get in as he’s the only viable option. He’s running against a non-player Councillor and a person who decided on a whim to run, and has never served a day on council. As insane as it is, Wells is currently the only sane option.

  4. Oh jesus, 4 more years of Andy shouting at all who oppose him, and some more corporate favours. At least it won’t be boring.

  5. Remember when Mr. Breen ran for the P.C.s and was lead around by Danny Williams, he lost and then went back on Council. He would have cost taxpayers a huge a pint of money had he won. I don’t agree with being able to write a column as derogatory as this and remain nameless

    • The journalists at the overcast are all hard left leaning, pro arts losers. Let them remain nameless, because they’re nobodies with no journalistic integrity.

    • Agree totally with Anna. Danny Breen, just like Doc O’Keefe, will spend our money keeping Danny Williams and his Galway legacy happy. Remember.. we almost bought 20 acres of land in Galway to build a fire depot!!! I’ll definitely be voting in this election. Three people are in the race for mayor, right now. We have a choice.

      • Please remember, regardless of the developer, Galway is in the city of St. John’s (thankyou former liberal amalgamation government). City of St. John’s has assumed tbe leadership role for the Regional Fire Services (thankyou former Conservative regionalization government.)

    • Interesting criticism of Breen as Andy left in the middle of his last term in office and DID cost the taxpayers almost $300,000 for a byelection. Although god love him that was after he made the mayors job full time amd doubled the salary and tried to save us the cost of the by-election by wanting to do both full time jobs at once. Andy did better off Williams then Breen did…Andy got a $250,000 a year for past 8 years for doing shag all at the PUB who fired him previously and he sued…like he sued the nurses union. And remember Councillor Sears and Puddister sued him and the taxpayers picked up Andys legal fees. Perhaps you slandered the wrong person. Wells shouldn’t be allowed to run and enough of us remember this to make sure he won’t get in again.

  6. This article would be more credible if the author had left their own ideology and biases out of it. Andy Wells’ “rough and gruff” nature is great when he’s offending Chinese officials, but he crosses the line when he dares to criticize David Suzuki, or holds a campaign event at Tim Horton’s with the plebeians.

    Wells’ opinions and positions are irrelevant. Someone with his boorish demeanor has no business holding public office, period.

  7. This post showed it’s own skewed view when it said David Suzuki’s integrity is off limits….then why isn’t Wells’…

  8. DoYourHomework on

    David Suzuki is a junk scientist… He’s been made to look like a Canadian icon. In person, he’s not a nice guy. Quite jerky, and if you look for stuff involving him, not what’s pushed to you by Canadian media, it’s pretty easy to see that he is in over his head and his opinions don’t stand up when they are challenged. Don’t hate on Andy for making a comment about Suzuki. Go ahead and hate on him for everything else. Lol

    • I like Suzuki most of the time, but he is a biologist, not a climatologist, and many people who actually are climatologists disagree with him. Not that the CBC will ever tell you this, like the author said, Suzuki is “off-limits.”

  9. It was Wells who made improvements to the harbour to get the cruise ships in.
    And it was the last council who raised the taxes when downtown businesses begged them not to-at a time of recession, businesses faced a terrible tax raise and many businesses closed. And city salaries got higher. Time for some tough love. Think hard, I would say.

  10. Danny Breen, a community hero <- Why?

    No question he maybe better then the other two choices. But I am asking why is Breen a hero?

    I am not suggesting he isn't I just don't know what he did to qualify as one so I am asking.

      • What makes Sharpe a hero? As best I can tell, her platform is all about blatantly pandering to the feminist vote, the arts vote, and mercilessly driving up the cost of living on taxpayers to finance pet projects for non-taxpaying artists who are mostly renters and don’t contribute to the tax base. Andy Wells at least looked out for those of us paying the bills in this city.

        • No one has ever been able to back up their claim that certain residents do not pay taxes. A landlord’s property tax is paid by the rental income of their property. You do not get to separate it out and claim tax is a property owner’s unique burden as if money coming in is irrelevant. If rent isn’t covering your tax bill then you’re in the wrong business.

  11. Wells had his time, it’s over, let go. We need some young, fresh ideas at city hall, not the same echo chamber of apathy and ignorance.

  12. Does anyone know why he wants to give Southlands to Mount Pearl? I haven’t been able to find any reasoning.

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