According to the most recent election poll (detailed on front page), nearly 40 per cent of voters are still on the fence about their choice for Greater Sudbury’s next mayor.
That’s OK, for now.
But this week, it is time to make some decisions. Election Day is less than a week away.
As a city, we stand at a crossroads. Those 70 people running for office believe they have the plans and the wherewithal to get us through that crossroads and move Greater Sudbury forward.
Some of them are right. Many of them are wrong.
They might think they have the plan, but we — the voters of this city — have the compass, and it is up to us to hand that compass to a council team best suited to provide the direction the Nickel City needs.
The past four years saw us saddled with a council whose only real talent was to run around in circles. That’s our own fault.
We elected a mayor who promised change to lead a council quite comfortable with the status quo. As NorthernLife.ca has said repeatedly on this page, a mayor is just one vote on council, and Mayor Marianne Matichuk too often found herself the odd one out.
Her agenda — our agenda; remember, we voted for her — was balked at every turn by the majority of council.
Was that the fault of the councillors? No. It was ours. Remember, we voted for them, too.
It’s impossible to get ahead if all you can do is chase your tail. And the council we elected in 2010 was doomed to fail because we wanted change and stasis at the same time. That’s a recipe for disaster, and we got what we asked for.
At NorthernLife.ca, we’ve had enough of chasing our tail. We’ve also had enough of chasing other northern cities like North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie, who are often far more progressive than we.
Greater Sudbury is the largest city in the North. It should be the model by which other northern cities are measured. Instead, those other cities are reaping the benefits of our failures.
We are not voting for a mayor and council this month, even though we have to make separate marks on the ballot. No, we are voting for a team. And a team has to work together, even when they don’t agree. A team has to find common ground, even when they have competing interests.
Amalgamation made a reluctant team out of individuals of competing interests, and we’re still suffering the labour pains of that union more than a decade after this new city’s birth.
But it is time to move on — the resentment is killing us.
That too many competing interests on the last council hamstrung the city is a reflection of the ongoing resentment many of us feel about amalgamation. Many parts of the city aren’t seeing the myriad improvements amalgamation promised; we’ve seen costs go up where they were supposed to go down and services go down when they were supposed to go up.
And it’s not fair.
But Greater Sudbury is as much an idea as it is a place, an ideal as much a destination.
Greater Sudbury exemplifies all that is great about the North: hundreds of lakes in the city limits; glorious boreal forest outside our front doors. Here, you can fish in the morning and take a stroll along a quiet forest path, hit an art gallery in the afternoon, and grab dinner at a first-rate locally owned restaurant before taking in a live show in the evening.
It’s the best of rural and urban living combined. Yes, we were forced into this experiment and in many ways we were fed a line. But we were also given an opportunity to create the best kind of city: where being cosmopolitan comes with elbow room and fresh air.
Unless we get our priorities straight, we can have four more years of stagnation, or four years where we start to come into our own as, quite possibly, Ontario’s best city.
And it starts with the decisions we make Oct. 27. Don’t vote for what you want to hear, vote for what all of us need.
If we want a city council that can work in our best interest, we as voters have to work as a team and pick a council that can move us forward together.
From Chelmsford to Coniston, Hanmer to Lively, Greater Sudbury needs all of us.
And it needs us to vote wisely.