Here is the next edition of “Running for City Council”. Darren Hill and Ward 1 were featured here. Now I wander across 33rd Street into Ward 1 where we look at Pat Lorje, the long time councilor of the riding.
Pat Lorje is currently a city councilor for Ward 2 in Saskatoon,Saskatchewan. She previously held the same position from 1979 to 1991, when she resigned to stand as the New Democratic candidate in Saskatoon Wildwood in the 1991 provincial election. She was re-elected to the Ward in 2006, 2009, and 2012.
So yeah, she has some name recognition in the Ward and gets a lot of her support from the neighborhoods of Montgomery and Caswell Hill. It’s not that other neighborhoods don’t like her, it is just that none of the turn out in enough number to determine an election.
So what would my strategy be if I was running against a well known incumbent councilor? During the last election, a politician said that it didn’t matter what their opponent did, they just had to worry about getting to a certain number of votes and there was a number of ways to get to that vote total. The same thing would apply in Ward 2 and the secret is to cobbling together a coalition of voters who are frustrated with city life in Ward 2 and getting them out to vote. This is how I would do it.
The NDP haven’t faced a serious re-election battle in Riversdale since Jo-Ann Zazelenchuk beat Roy Romanow in 1982. They generally won handily in the area but that has started to change. I have written before about the declining margins of victory that Danielle Chartier has won by in Saskatoon Riversdale which has gotten to the point where she is vulnerable to being beaten by the right Saskatchewan Party candidate (Not sure Marv Friesen is that candidate but you never know). My point is that it looks like parts of that ward are voting right wing more often. No longer is Montgomery home to veterans, it is home to an eclectic group of people who haven’t been voting for Lorje since before I was born.
Despite Montgomery being her base, it’s been a tough time for the neighborhood. Despite several passionate speeches to City Council, Lorje wasn’t able to stop the wind turbine (which was a good idea until it came back economically unfeasible) and the construction of hundreds of new units of apartments. The new City Operations Centre is going south of Montgomery. The South Circle Drive Bridge and Circle Drive bring 24 hour traffic noise by Montgomery. For a community that thinks of itself as a first among equals, much has changed a lot and people aren’t happy about it. In the end, the wind turbine might have been the best of all things that could have happened.
Convincing those voters to either vote for you or stay at home on election day.
The Montgomery Apartments
Even if the older part of Montgomery holds, there are a lot of new voters to the community in those apartments. They aren’t long term supporters of Lorje and are open to anyone who is going to go after them. A flyer drop to those apartments reinforcing some of Lorje’s and Montgomery’s residents statements about those apartments could make it really awkward for her.
The same thing with the Riversdale BID. Lorje has been a large proponent of the business aspect part of it but against social programs being located there. In a community that has seen it’s share of gentrification, a campaign reminding voters that Lorje has been against the services that are needed to help them could bring out voters in Riversdale. Lorje and I have disagreed for years on these kinds of policies but that doesn’t matter. If the voter is against gentrification, the answer is that it has happened because of the focus on business development on 20th Street with the kind of growth that has locked out local people. If they are frustrated with the ongoing issues with crime and social issues, it is because there is no room for the social agencies to help them. The question always is will Riversdale and Pleasant Hill turn out in enough numbers to vote? History says no.
Crime is rising in the city (thank goodness the City of Saskatoon Police were there to save us from the Compassion Club) and it is increasingly violent and more serious in Ward 2 where it is heavily concentrated. This is one of those issues that is almost impossible to blame on Lorje, the issues are beyond the control of any one councilor but because of the incredible density of it in Ward 2 residents feel it. To be honest, this isn’t a big issue to attack the incumbent with and it won’t be that hard to beat back but it could be problematic if people are frustrated in Meadow Green, Caswell Hill, Riversdale, and Pleasant Hill and are asked, “Do you feel safer than you were in 2012?” For most, the answer is no.
Is Lorje prone to be swept away if a sea of change finally hits City Hall? Actually no. That is the advantage of being an outspoken councilor, she has her own brand of politics that is separate from the rest of City Councils. If a mood to change sweeps across the mighty South Saskatchewan River, Lorje is in a good place to ride it out.
It all comes down to whether or not someone can figure out the issues to motivate your coalition of voters to turn out on election day. I think it could happen but it would be a long and drawn out campaign combined with a mayoral campaign that can bring out non typical voters. If that happens, it could be the race to watch on election night.