Forgive me for feeling uninspired by our three mayoral candidates.
All the talk about how Nelson’s small-business community has been forgotten amid four years of Deb Kozak’s mayoralty has inspired not one representative of that aggrieved community to run for the city’s top job.
Instead we have an incumbent mayor, a former mayor and a clown.
Incumbent Deb Kozak has approved a 50 per cent raise for the next council, bouncing the salary above that of the average household in the city, against the recommendations of an independent committee. Former mayor John Dooley says he will reverse the decision, while contender Bernie Brown has declared she makes $12,000 a year as a street performer.
I, like many of you, attended Saturday’s two-hour mayoral forum, where moderator Glenn Hicks did his level best to stir the pot with the three candidates, oftentimes cutting them short in an effort to interject some illusion of dynamism into the evening’s proceedings.
But the gambit fell flat, and not for lack of effort.
Discussions around cannabis legalization, funding for supportive housing, mental health and wildfire prevention in West Arm Provincial Park chewed hardest on the clock. But these are issues outside the purview of even the most ambitious city government.
And now Monday plays host to a climate change forum.
Don’t get me wrong, the need to address climate change is beyond urgent, and civic leaders should be asked to, at very least, acknowledge its existence as a baseline for fitness for the job. But aside from laying down sod or speed bumps on Baker Street, any candidate’s pledge to make a difference on climate is no different from my pledge or yours.
I admire the desire to hold every elected foot to the fire of a burning planet. But asking a Nelson mayoral candidate to address global warming is asking them to shout back the tides. In a city with no major industrial sector, the debate only depletes our chief non-renewable resource — time.
For the first time in my life I will be abstaining from voting for a mayoral candidate. Given their performance at the forum, the choice boils down to a we-used-to-do-it-this-way candidate, a we’re-still-in-talks candidate and a street clown.