Mayoral challengers go on the attack

Steve
Steve Bartlett
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The mayoral race heated up a little Tuesday morning as the challengers took swipes at the incumbent during a live forum on CBC Radio.

Hopefuls Ron Ellsworth and Mark Wilson went after Dennis O'Keefe following his reply to a question on development.

The mayoralty candidates for the city of St. John's took part in a live forum on CBC Radio Tuesday morning in the food court of Atlantic Place. From left to right at table are host Jeff Gilhooly, Dennis O'Keefe, Ron Ellsworth and Mark Wilson. - Photo by K

The mayoral race heated up a little Tuesday morning as the challengers took swipes at the incumbent during a live forum on CBC Radio.

Hopefuls Ron Ellsworth and Mark Wilson went after Dennis O'Keefe following his reply to a question on development.

Said O'Keefe: "If you went out on Water Street and around the city, you'd find a whole lot of visions. What we need to do when this election is over is sit down as a group of people who are interested in the future growth and development of this city and create a vision that we can all live with, that we can implement, the vision that would be flexible and be able to take in all of the things that are going to happen to this city over the next five to 10 years."

Wilson, an organic farmer and reggae singer, was quick to question the musings of the mayor, who has been on council for a dozen years.

"I'm not sure what Dennis is talking about in terms of going out into the street and being able to get that dialogue going because we haven't seen it from the city yet," Wilson said, as he began to answer the next query on maintaining the downtown's heritage character and uniqueness.

In responding to the same question, Ellsworth also went on the offensive.

"I find it interesting that the incumbent is now talking about going out into the community after 12 years on council," the current deputy mayor and city businessman said. "What we need to do is listen to what's being said by the community."

O'Keefe later elaborated, saying he's not advocating that the mayor go out into the street to create a plan. Instead, he wants to bring together everyone with a vested interest in growth and development.

He also said it's time to eliminate the antagonisms and animosities that come with development in the downtown.

Ellsworth took another shot after O'Keefe answered a question from the public on the need for improving Metrobus's quality, efficiency and service.

The current mayor said there was a need to encourage a better and expanded transit system for the city and region, that it was the way of the future.

Ellsworth obviously thought O'Keefe's 90-second answer used up too much of the present.

He opened his response to the Metrobus question with, "First of all, the answer to your question is yes. You don't need a long-winded answer. We need improvement."

O'Keefe's reply to the Metrobus question also caught heat from the citizen who asked it.

"Ian" used his follow-up to argue the mayor's point. Public transit, he said, is not a way for the future, but a way for the present.

Outside of those barbs, the forum went as anyone following the election race would expect.

Through questions from the public and moderator Jeff Gilhooly, host of CBC Radio's "Morning Show," the candidates also offered their positions on property assessments, the water supply, water metering and recycling.

Wilson seemed to rankle both his opponents a bit when he suggested the city's budgeting process wasn't transparent.

"There's nothing secret when it comes to the finances at city hall," O'Keefe said.

In closing the forum, Gilhooly asked the contenders to explain why they should be mayor.

Wilson said the city needs a fresh, new voice and called for more dialogue.

O'Keefe, apparently on the defensive to Wilson, said he is fresh thinking and always has been.

He also said he loves to talk to people and, echoing his campaign material, said he has a record of proven leadership.

Ellsworth noted his diverse background has made him who he is and said he'd like to bring some of his experiences to city hall.

He also took a parting shot at O'Keefe.

"Myself and the incumbent are totally different individuals who offer different ideas on moving forward. During the discussion, he talked about transparency. His idea of transparency is that council sits as a group and talks about what's happening, and people can come to the meetings. My idea of transparency is taking the meetings out to the people, engage the public, go where they are and bring the process back in."

sbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: CBC Radio

Geographic location: Water Street

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Recent comments

  • Wait...
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    Ok, now who else can we cast our vote for mayor? Not one of these three have what it takes to go above and beyond the current status of City of Little.

    Who has the MBA?

  • Dennis
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Amazing...it's as though Ellsworth forgets that he is an incumbent on the current council (kind of like he forgot that he paid for that poll he denied being involved with a couple of years back).

    So was he a) lacking vision himself, and thus not worthy of my vote, or b) full of vision, but simply ineffective at making headway, thus not worthy of my vote? A or B? More of the same either way...Mark Wilson's got my vote now.

  • Dave
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    The amount of 'pie in the sky' idealism that everyone currently running for council including mayor is spewing around is getting sickening. Every election we hear the same old line about growth, development and 'what we need to do'. Yet as soon as they are elected, they all go back to bumbling along trying to stay under the radar, collecting the salary, and trying to log enough time for their pensions.

  • Kaitlin
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    I still haven't figured out if Mark Wilson running is a joke or not? He says he is close to young people but as a yuong person I would look at him and run. I am sorry but composting is not a number one priority and no one with no political experience should be running a major city. Not that he has a chance though.

    In my mind as a young voter, O'keefe has been on council too long, Wilson has no experience, so the only logical choice is Ellsworth! He has enough experience without dishing out the same ridiculous senile policies

  • JMH
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    I can't help but comment on the posts regarding an MBA that Wait...What? has added to two recent articles on the race for Mayor of St. John's. Get off your high horse on the MBA. It would take a person with a very strong business background to run a City the size a St. John's... not someone that has a peice of paper that really only says he should be able to.

    I'm not posting this comment in support of either of the three candidates. I just want to point out that you need to get a grip on reality!!!

  • Wait...
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    Ok, now who else can we cast our vote for mayor? Not one of these three have what it takes to go above and beyond the current status of City of Little.

    Who has the MBA?

  • Dennis
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    Amazing...it's as though Ellsworth forgets that he is an incumbent on the current council (kind of like he forgot that he paid for that poll he denied being involved with a couple of years back).

    So was he a) lacking vision himself, and thus not worthy of my vote, or b) full of vision, but simply ineffective at making headway, thus not worthy of my vote? A or B? More of the same either way...Mark Wilson's got my vote now.

  • Dave
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    The amount of 'pie in the sky' idealism that everyone currently running for council including mayor is spewing around is getting sickening. Every election we hear the same old line about growth, development and 'what we need to do'. Yet as soon as they are elected, they all go back to bumbling along trying to stay under the radar, collecting the salary, and trying to log enough time for their pensions.

  • Kaitlin
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    I still haven't figured out if Mark Wilson running is a joke or not? He says he is close to young people but as a yuong person I would look at him and run. I am sorry but composting is not a number one priority and no one with no political experience should be running a major city. Not that he has a chance though.

    In my mind as a young voter, O'keefe has been on council too long, Wilson has no experience, so the only logical choice is Ellsworth! He has enough experience without dishing out the same ridiculous senile policies

  • JMH
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    I can't help but comment on the posts regarding an MBA that Wait...What? has added to two recent articles on the race for Mayor of St. John's. Get off your high horse on the MBA. It would take a person with a very strong business background to run a City the size a St. John's... not someone that has a peice of paper that really only says he should be able to.

    I'm not posting this comment in support of either of the three candidates. I just want to point out that you need to get a grip on reality!!!