Victoria’s new government must tread carefully
Mayor Dean Fortin enjoyed a sound victory Saturday, but results suggest he can’t take his support for granted during his second term.
The electorate sent him two distinct messages at the polls. On the one hand, the majority of voters generally approve of his direction and track record on affordable housing and plans to build a strong downtown economy.
On the other hand, fully one quarter of voters supported an alternate candidate whose slogan was “Stop the momentum.”
Paul Brown didn’t just present an alternative vision for the city. Instead, he ran a fierce attack campaign, warning that Mayor Fortin is on a dangerous path to nowhere good. Tax hikes are unsustainable, the city’s infrastructure deficit threatens to cripple the economy, and city hall is secretive about bad news, he charged.
His accusations didn’t have much chance of ousting a popular mayor, but they resonated with enough people to be taken seriously.
There are other signs that all is not well among the electorate. First, two councillors on Fortin’s slate were not re-elected — a rare phenomenon in a city where incumbents almost always win their seat.
Second, Coun. Geoff Young won more votes than any other candidate.
Young has made a name for himself as the consistent and often only voice of opposition on council. He boasts there would be no discussion during council meetings, if not for him.
Council has already taken the first steps toward many of the reforms Brown called for. They include a more proactive approach to maintaining infrastructure, and a policy of posting all documents to the city website.
If the new council is responsive, they’ll be sure to follow through with thoroughness and haste.