Last night I attended the St. Clair Revitalization Debate at J J Piccinini Community Centre. That's toward the western end of St.Clair, and right next door to the famous La Paloma Gelateria.
I thought there was going to be a mayoral debate there between 7 and 9. Instead, there were a whole series of debates -- for school board trustee candidates, city councillor candidates (ward 17 - Davenport), and finally the mayoral candidates sometime after 8.
I missed most of the earlier debates because I was outside handing out Miller materials. Anyone trying to enter the building had to run a gauntlet, consisting of flyer-wielding supporters of nearly a dozen candidates. It was cold out there, but fun observing the scene and talking to the other volunteers.
Inside, I caught the end of the debate for council candidates. All I can say is that Alejandra Bravo is amazing. In her closing statements, this tiny young woman gave the most fiery and most enthusiastic speech I've heard this year. The content was smart and inspiring. I hope she wins, and not just because she is also aligned with David Miller.
The mayoral candidates were up next, and at this point I was disappointed to hear that David could only stay for part of the night. He did have a great opening statement, however, which was very well received by the crowd. He was able to fit in many of his main campaign ideas, and they were well received. I think he was probably perceived as the candidate with the strongest response against backroom City Hall lobbying, and all the problems that that has caused. His vision for the waterfront was also inspiring.
Some other notes from the debate:
The St. Clair LRT proposal was a contentious issue. Several times, people with businesses in the area stood up to ask questions that were obviously critical of this proposal. The four candidates (Miller had left) all made sympathetic comments. Nunziata and Jakobek were adamantly opposed to the idea. Tory and Hall were promising to work on a plan that would satisfy all stakeholders. It sounded like Tory was leaning negative on the issue. I couldn't tell where Hall stood.
The interesting thing is that whenever anyone criticized the LRT proposal, there was some loud applause. However, I would look around the room and see that it was coming from a clear minority of the audience. My sense is that there is a segment that is adamantly opposed, but that they are not the bulk of opinion in the area.
* -- I'm not going to repeat what I overheard, because I may have gotten the words wrong, or it may not even have anything to do with what I think it was about. However, if it was related to the bribery scandal, what I heard Tory say reflects his public position. It also suggested to me that Nunziata is perhaps being as private with his statements to Tory as he is with the rest of us.
DISCLOSURE: After a serious decision-making process, I joined the Miller-for-mayor campaign several weeks ago. However, all comments on this website are my own, and do not necessarily represent the views of David Miller or his campaign. My role in the campaign is grunt-level and I haven't even met the strategists.