Five running for Port Hope mayor’s job sends a message to incumbent

There must be a strong message being sent to Port Hope Mayor Linda Thompson when four people decide they want your job.

The field of candidates is varied from a long-haul trucker to a political aide. The diversity of experience and background makes it a most interesting race.

Sure, John Floyd decided to run. But, he is an old horse who doesn’t know when to go out to pasture.  He has a good following and knows local politics. Yet, politicians have a shelf life and his is past due. Rick Austin, who was a former mayor and long-time councillor, got it right. Come back to council, where he stands a good chance of winning. Instead, Floyd figures he can hit the target. The proof will be on election night.

William Spotton is a political aide to Joe Dickson, MPP for Ajax. This is a political organizer who has worked for the Liberal Party and has plenty of political experience. He has organized election campaigns, does strategic communications and is a community activist.  He is no one to be trifled with and represent a serious threat. Considering Thompson’s overtures to run for the Conservatives locally, this is a very open batlle with party lines drawn clearly in the sand.

Robert Chatten is a long-haul trucker from Catton, who has worked as district fire chief. Running on an agenda of smaller government, he wants to reduce red tap for small businesses and make council more transparent. He also raised the spectre of amalgamation of Wards one and two. He is right, but it is not politically smart since this is a topic that makes many people see red (and that is not as in red tape).

Finally, Davidson Tate, a local activist who outspoken, having made a presentation before the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in August 2009.

It is exciting to see such a big slate, but from a political organizational point of view, this fragments the votes. Rather than having a single candidate to take on Thompson, smaller groups may break up the vote, allowing her to return as an incumbent. The only hope is that one of the candidates sticks out as a viable alternative. This is quiet possible, since the surprise deficit of $8 million and the industrial land fiasco are still fresh in the minds of Port Hope voters.

There is also a strong anti-incumbent movement, as witnessed at the recent “newbies” debate held by Dan Christie. This event held last week invited only non-incumbent candidates seeking election. The current councillors were told to stay away. Many felt it was a successful event, despite an obvious unfairness.

Yup, Thompson has lots to be worried about and she can’t fluff the public this off this time like she does at council meetings so many times.