If we can step out of our own municipal race for a second, which already has four people on the ballot for mayor, we can look slightly westward to Waterloo, which, as of yesterday, has one candidate for mayor, and it's someone you may already know. If you've ever watched the news on CTV's Kitchener station, then you probably at some point got the weather from Dave MacDonald, and now the former weatherman is making his bid to be Mayor of Waterloo.
MacDonald submitted his papers yesterday and talked to the media, including his old colleagues at CKCO, about his platform. Amongst MacDonald's goals are the usual mayoral red meat items like job creation and finding budget efficiencies, but mostly, MacDonald is in the race to kill the LRT.
"I think we need to take a second look at it, I don't think we can afford it," MacDonald said to CBC KW in an interview Thursday. "If anybody thinks this thing's going to come in on budget, they're dreaming. I think we can probably get out of it for less than the cost of the overrun in the budget."
There's been a growing rebellion against the proposed LRT in Waterloo Region, the first phase of which is expected to begin construction this year for a 2017 start date. The tender for the LRT's construction, a line from Waterloo's Conestoga Mall to Kitchener's Fairview Park Mall, will be awarded sometime this spring, but a coalition of politicians, business-owners and citizens, lead primarily by Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig, are pushing for the projects re-evaluation. They argue that the project will probably go over-budget, and that there maybe negative impact on shops and businesses along the LRT route. Meanwhile, the counter-argument from LRT supporters is that it will cost as much to cancel the project now than it will be to complete it.
"That’s the party line, that it would be cost-prohibitive [to cancel]," MacDonald told CTV, "but is it more prohibitive to spend $200 million to kill a project, or to go $600 or $700 million over budget on the project?"
Current Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran announced last month that she would not be seeking re-election this fall after serving two-terms in office. "It is hard to say goodbye to a role that holds such purpose and meaning," Holloran said in a statement released before the holidays. "I believe that life is about possibilities. I am excited about 2015 and I look forward to jumping into the next stage of my life. I will take with me many valuable lessons that I have learned throughout my years as the Mayor of Waterloo."
This isn't MacDonald's first go at politics. He ran as the Progressive Conservative candidate in the Kitchener-Centre riding in the 2011 Provincial Election. MacDonald lost that race against incumbent Liberal John Malloy by 323 votes, but the candidate is convinced that his name cache still gives him an advantage. "The name recognition will help. It certainly helped in the provincial election when over 15,000 people trusted me with their vote," he said. "I'm really well known in the community. People know me, people trust me."
Like all candidates taking part in municipal elections this fall, MacDonald will find out if this is the case on October 27.