No slate for Preservation Chelsea

Sept. 23, 2009 – Preservation Chelsea won’t be running a slate of candidates in the Nov. 1 election but its president, Geoff Bleich, will be running in Ward 2 against Chelsea Foundation President Caryl Green.

Bleich said the slate idea was abandoned for a couple of reasons. The first, he said, was that the “us vs. them” scenario it created isn’t good for Chelsea, which has seen its share of hostility between factions during last year’s referendum campaigns.

“We want to avoid a scenario where half the community is fighting the other half,” he said

Bleich said the community’s response to the proposed slate shaped his decision “to a certain extent.”

The other reason for not running a slate, he said, was that since Preservation Chelsea hadn’t organized as a party there was no process to determine which candidate would represent the organization in any given riding.

“We don’t want to scare off a good candidate,” he said.

Bleich said he wasn’t sure how many Preservation Chelsea members or candidates formerly interested in the slate concept would be running, saying some had “come and gone” while others were still making their up their minds. He couldn’t say for sure whether any were going to run for mayor.

With the candidate registration period underway (from Sept. 18 to Oct. 2), Bleich is the only one whose papers have been submitted according to the municipality’s election web page (http://www.chelsea.ca/renseignements_generaux/municipalelections2009.php).

Bleich, 44, and a father of two, hasn’t run for elected office before. He works as an accountant for a trade finance firm in Ottawa. He said his interest in politics was “next to nil until Chelsea Creek came along.”

Bleich objected to how the housing project was handled by the council, which led to the founding of Preservation Chelsea. He said the municipality’s taxes have been increasing too quickly and he’s running on a platform of fiscal prudence.

“Part of being a good local government is saying no to some people,” he said. “You’re spending other people’s money, and in some cases, people who can’t afford it.”

He said having the entire municipality pay for a sewer system to facilitate high-density housing makes no sense, and he would like to see the Meredith Centre plan reworked into something that three-quarters of the population could get behind.

The latter will make for an interesting Ward 2 showdown with Green, the centre’s main proponent. Bleich said if the centre’s current version can go ahead at the price advertised he would accept what was democratically approved, but he would otherwise push to have it revisited.

He also said he would like to see a more “transparent” council that fully explains its decision and welcomes feedback from residents,

although he acknowledges it has become a trite word in contemporary political discourse.