I wrote it weeks ago. I don’t know why I held off posting it at the time: Perhaps the municipal election still seemed a bit too far away or maybe I just wasn’t ready to publicly commit to a monogamous political relationship.
It’s too late now, in any case. David Soknacki has left the arena and I am bereft. Despondent, disconsolate, doleful, lachrymose, melancholy, saturnine and downright sullen. My political parrot is, in other words, dead and all I am left with is this Roget’s Thesaurus of crestfallen synonyms.
Not that it would probably matter. Soknacki had essentially no chance of winning the Oct. 27 election for mayor of Toronto. But if he had remained in the race, I would have at least had an honourable and responsible place to park my ballot.
Now? I wouldn’t — couldn’t — vote for any of the three leading candidates for the job, even if I held my nose. And I’m not holding my nose for any of those stinkers.
So, just as part of the mourning process while I evaluate my future voting intentions, I give you — uncensored and unexpurgated — The David Soknacki Blog Post I Never Posted, which would have been entitled …
Why I Plan To Vote For David Soknacki As Mayor
It’s safe to say a lot of people reading this are saying “David Who?” because, even though Soknacki has a well-established track record in city politics and was one of the first legitimate candidates to enter the mayoral race (and promises to still be in it at the end), he really hasn’t made a strong impact on Toronto voters.
The corollary of this is that many other people who actually do know who David Soknacki is (and maybe even admire him) will say, “Why would you waste your vote on Socks when he’s obviously not going to win? Your one vote could mean the difference in whether X, Y or Z becomes mayor. Could you live with yourself if X (or Y or Z, depending on your politics) won because you threw your vote away on Soknacki?”
The answer is, “Yes, I could. Easily. And proudly.”
Why, for God’s sake? Explain your kamikaze logic.
Simple. By voting for David Soknacki, I’m not throwing my vote away. I’m doing the right thing, as I see it. And that’s never a wasted vote.
A truly wasted vote, in my opinion, is casting your ballot for someone you don’t really believe in — and maybe don’t even like or trust — just because he or she is the lesser of two or three evils. In the end, you will always regret that wasted vote.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I do not support all of Soknacki’s positions and I don’t think he has the ability to solve all of Toronto’s myriad problems.
In fact, I’m on the opposite side of the fence from Soknaki on a number of issues. Take, for example, the proposed Scarborough subway extension, which I’m strongly in favour of and which is endorsed by mayoral candidates Rob Ford and John Tory (and previously by Karen Stintz before she flitted off in a snit).
I favour the subway option because it’s more robust, more integrated, more dependable and, in the long run (over the 100-year life of a subway line compared to the 30-year lifespan of an LRT), far more cost-efficient.
And it treats Scarborough as a homogenous part of the City of Toronto, not some poor-relative backwater which somehow doesn’t rate being on the same mass transit grid as the better-connected parts of the city. (Much the same way as the Bloor Viaduct finally stitched together the eastern part of Toronto with the central and western parts a century ago.)
Soknacki is opposed to switching from the already-approved LRT plan to the newly favoured subway plan, not for ideological or opportunistic reasons, but because he believes it’s the right thing to do
Soknacki has, by far, the most comprehensive and thought-out (and consistent and believable) position of any of the mayoral candidates when it comes to urban transportation and fighting gridlock and building infrastructure.
He’s laid his platform out forthrightly and clearly (well, as clearly as a techo-nerd can, given his commitment to accuracy and objectivity) in a number of detailed policy papers, while his higher-profile opponents dither and slither and pretend their airy-fairy transit plans are even possible (especially within the time and financial frameworks they fantasize about).
Meanwhile, Soknacki chugs along, looking for realistic, affordable, effective ways of reducing — if not outright eliminating — Toronto’s current traffic nightmare and keeping Canada’s largest, most economically important city from grinding to a halt while we wait for some promised miracles decades down the road.
And part of that co-ordinated, progressive quest is Soknacki’s mantra: “Politicians should never interfere with the construction of new transit routes that are already designed, engineered and funded.”
He’s right, of course. If you keep changing horses in mid-stream, you’re all going to drown eventually.
Having said that, I firmly believe it is just plain stupid — if not criminally irresponsible — to keep throwing tons of good money at a demonstrably bad idea, just because it’s been approved already.
I still firmly believe that LRTs don’t hold a candle to subways when it comes to reliability and endurance — especially in a Canadian winter — but Soknacki is good to go with the Scarborough LRT. He says it can provide necessary capacity at subway speeds at a fraction of the cost and in a fraction of the construction time compared to the proposed Scarborough subway.
Soknacki knows his stuff — much better than I — so even though my gut keeps telling me “Subway,” I am prepared to accept his evaluation of the situation and take his word that the Scarborough LRT will not be a colossal white elephant 10 or 15 years down the road.
Because I trust him. Because I know he’s done his homework and his grunt work. Because I know he’s got a good mind and a good heart. And because I know he isn’t distracted and blown off course by gusts of passing fancy and visceral enthusiasm and blinkered ideology and self-serving partisanship and mindless jingoism.
When Soknacki is asked a tough question and you see, in his eyes, that his brain’s going clickety-click, you can be pretty sure the main thought going through his mind isn’t “How is this answer going to help me personally?” It’s “What is the right thing to do?”
If he was the self-serving type, he wouldn’t lay himself open to attack by openly saying he would consider new transit taxes as part of a comprehensive, rational transportation programme that deals with everything from getting the downtown relief subway line underway to properly automating the transit system to keeping the city’s road infrastructure from caving in on itself to finding better, more efficient ways of moving people and goods in and out of the city.
Take something as simple as this: He would introduce — immediately and without fuss — early bird TTC fares to get more people on buses and subway trains when they’re less crowded and service is better.
He would clear core roads of onstreet parking to keep traffic moving better. He would look for solutions that involve more smart thinking and innovation than throwing gobs of money at a problem in the hope it will go away.
That’s just transit, barely scraping the surface of transit. And Soknacki’s miles ahead of his opponents in that regard. In my opinion, anyway.
He’s got well-thought-out plans for bringing the police services budget under control, for getting council out of its dysfunctional funk and bringing all regions and sectors of the city into the decision-making process.
He’s actually got plans for dealing with the crises of Toronto homelessness (yes, it’s real) and the breakdown of the city’s social housing fabric while expanding rental market housing and protecting the homeowners who carry most of the tax burden in this city — and doing all of this with existing tools, not whining and waiting endlessly for the province or federal government to ride to the rescue with saddlebags of imaginary cash.
Most importantly, he knows what he’s talking about and knows how to put his words into action. He’s not a gasbag or blitherer or ditherer.
So I’m planning to vote for David Soknacki on Monday, Oct. 27.
I may change my mind over the next two months, but I doubt it. David Soknacki might not be wildly charismatic, but he is very experienced and smart and thoughtful and honest and responsible and consistent and genuine. He’s a good person and I am pretty darn sure he can (and will) do what he says he wants to do.
In the end, I trust David Soknacki. What greater virtue could you seek in a mayor?