Kramberger: West Island voters tend to prioritize continuity over change


While residents may feel strongly affected by issues such as high-density residential projects, turnout in municipal elections is too often low.

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The municipal elections of November 7 are an opportunity for the voters of the West Island to express themselves. Hoping they show up en masse.

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It is difficult to predict whether the results in the demerged towns will reflect a demand for reform or a demonstration of confidence in incumbents, especially mayors.

In mayoral races with three or more candidates, as in Pointe-Claire , will the incumbent benefit from the distribution of votes in favor of the change between the challengers? Lois Butler, a local trader who is running for the first time, and Tim Thomas, who ran in 2017 but placed third with around eight percent of the vote, hope to upset John Belvedere, who is running for his second term. If either were to succeed, it would go against the grain in a city where outgoing mayors are historically re-elected, unless they choose not to run again.

Butler and Thomas have both joined in efforts to preserve the Fairview Forest, where massive development plans have been proposed by the owner of the private lots located along the Highway 40 service road just west of the Fairview shopping center.

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In his first run for office in 2013, Belvedere lost to Morris Trudeau, an outgoing adviser who was publicly backed by retiree Bill McMurchie. Trudeau chose not to run for a second term for mayor in 2017.

In 2017, Belvedere upset the tradition of Pointe-Claire by being elected mayor without having previously been a city councilor, when he defeated Aldo Iermieri, outgoing councilor. The turnout in the last election was around 44 percent.

If Belvedere is removed from his post as mayor on November 7, it would mean a change at the top in three consecutive elections for Pointe-Claire, a stark contrast to the previous period.

Before the 2013 election, four men were mayors of Pointe-Claire for five decades: Arthur Séguin (1961-1974), David Beck (1974-1982), Malcolm Knox (1982-1998) and McMurchie, who ruled the city. for three terms, including one as part of the merger of the megalopolis with Montreal.

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If by chance Butler were elected, she would become only the second female mayor (after Olive Louise Urquhart, 1954-1956 and 1958-1961) in the history of Pointe-Claire.

In Dorval, meanwhile, four candidates are running for mayor. The odds in favor are probably Marc Doret, the outgoing councilor for District 4 who led the Action Dorval party from Edgar Rouleau, who is retiring from municipal politics after having served conscientiously for 39 years.

Other Candidates for mayor of Dorval are Marc Barrette and Giovanni Baruffa, both candidates in 2017, and Richard Moreau. If these “reform” options, as some critics of Action Dorval call it, divide the opposition vote, it could favor Doret, especially if it is a close race between at least three candidates.

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In 2017, it wasn’t a close race when Rouleau faced four challengers and won a landslide, garnering around 71% of the vote cast, with a low turnout of 37%. Baruffa then came in second with just 11 percent of the vote.

It remains to be seen whether Moreau could be the answer for the citizens of Dorval who wish to change course at City Hall.

Too often, however, turnout in municipal elections is low. If Dorval residents are so upset by high-density residential projects and worried about threatened monarch butterfly fields or misguided leadership that once offered paid picnic tables at Pine Beach Park, you would think that more of them would show up to vote.

Albert Kramberger is editor of the West Island / Off-Island section of the Montreal Gazette.

akramberger@postmedia.com

twitter.com/akramberger1

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