Yesterday marked the first anniversary of Acts of Minor Treason. I'm not sure if anyone read it back in January and February, when updates were infrequent and frequently uninspired, but the people that do read and comment on what I write here helps me go on. In an earlier age, I'd have been doing most of my commentary and complaining at an empty room or inanimate object; today, at least there's the possibility that other people will hear, and care, about things I say. So thank you for that.
Yesterday was another significant day in its own right for me - because as of yesterday, I'm officially a candidate for Mayor in the 2010 Toronto municipal election. When I filed my papers I was the fifteenth candidate - if previous elections are a guide, there'll be many more before nominations close in September, particularly given the lack of an incumbent this year. That's the mark, I think, of a healthy system.
What do I believe? I believe a lot of things. I believe I'd like to see the Downtown Relief Line stressed in future transit planning, I believe I'd like to see crowdsourcing and popular involvement factored into the way the city is run, I believe the city needs more leeway in the manners in which it's allowed to raise money with which to fund municipal operations - I believe I'd like Toronto to become, in whatever ways possible, a city of the future. That's what I'd like.
Still, what I'd like and what everyone else would like is meaningless if Toronto can't afford it. That, I think, will be one of the key issues of this election. Toronto needs to find new ways of paying for its operations in order to prosper, and it's one of those questions that doesn't have easy answers. Should we go the easy route, increasing property tax rates and motivating more and more people and businesses to pull up stakes for the 905? Should we look at building a casino, like candidate Giorgio Mammoliti suggests, weighing a positive cashflow against potential social negatives? Should we go to the province and try to get some leeway in the City of Toronto Act? Cities like Chicago and Los Angeles are allowed to levy hotel taxes, for example - why shouldn't Toronto be able to do the same? These are some the questions that need to be asked.
I know that this is all pretty indistinct, but I think unveiling a full platform in January is pretty premature - ten months is a long time, and in October the city may be dealing with issues that aren't even on the radar right now. If you wonder what I think about $PRESSING_ISSUE, then ask. No matter what my full platform includes, there's no way everyone's questions would be answered by it. If you want to get an idea of how I think and where I lean, there's a year's worth of me pouring out my opinions on this weblog to give some indication.
Ultimately, though, the most pressing question of all may well be why some 27-year-old science fiction writer and weblogger no one's ever heard of would go to the trouble of throwing his hat into a ring that's already the province of ex-provincial Cabinet ministers and councillors looking to snazz up their job description.
There are a bunch of reasons - because I love my city, because I'd like to bring ideas into the public spectrum. The one I think is most important, though, is civic involvement. A democratic society can only be made healthier by people taking a direct role in the democratic process, and through that involvement gaining a greater understanding and appreciation for it. Democracy's an easy thing to take for granted. We need to look to the future.
EDIT: Contrary to what certain pages may claim, this is not the only thing I have written on the subject of my mayoral campaign. Click the "Toronto 2010" button at the bottom of this post for many more!