Volume 91, Issue 42

Wednesday, November 12, 1997

Downey fresh


Democratic damsel

London voters hit the polls on Monday to choose their city's next mayor and proceeded to turn the city's democratic process into a laughing stock.

Mayor Dianne Haskett was re-elected by voters after not doing the job she was originally elected for. By resigning from her post as mayor for three weeks and not campaigning, Haskett did not fulfill her duty to the city.

Whether the electorate feels she made the right decision or not when she refused to issue a proclamation for a gay pride parade is not the issue here. The issue is Haskett did not attend any all-candidates meetings, did not speak to the media and by doing this did not inform the London community of what she planned to do for the next three years if re-elected.

In order to help the London community heal, as she stated in her victory speech, she must start making decisions as a mayor and not as a civil citizen. She must show leadership and not use the actions of the media as a scapegoat.

London citizens filled in the arrow beside her name, thereby electing a mayor who never discussed the issues with the London community and never gave voters a chance to ask her what she thought about matters they feel are important. How then, can the citizens of London expect to hold her accountable for any decisions while in office when she didn't even have a campaign platform?

As a result of her actions, the mayoral campaign turned its focus from issues affecting Londoners to the pervading controversy over Haskett's resignation. London residents didn't have a good gage of candidates' positions on issues and were ill-equipped to vote as they couldn't compare all the candidates' views and Haskett was not able to defend herself in public forums.

This is an embarrassment to city council and to London because the municipal election process was thrown out the window. The purpose of campaigning is so city residents will get to know the candidates who are running. Students and other residents of the city who have not lived here for three years did not know everything about Haskett and she didn't give them an opportunity to find out.

The results reflect poorly on London. There is a problem when 60.6 per cent of voters in this city vote for an invisible candidate. Hopefully, this kind of campaign will never occur in the city again.

London needs a strong mayor. Obviously, a great many Londoners believe Haskett is the most effective person to lead the city. But she has a lot of doubters as well – people who supported her until she took her leave of absence. Haskett must now prove herself once again by showing London that she will stand face to face with controversy and not shy away from confrontation.

To Contact The Editorial Department: gazed@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997