Municipal Election 2010

Responsiveness To Questions Varies Widely Among Candidates

In spite of the fact that the questions are important and the answers are being read by voters, not all candidates are as responsive as others.

By Adrian Duyzer
Published October 06, 2010

The Raise the Hammer Elections website is picking up steam. With seven questions posed to candidates so far and hundreds of answers, it's become essential for anyone who wants a comprehensive and in-depth resource on the positions taken by candidates for municipal office.

The work is paying off with growing traffic, which is increasingly coming from search engines as voters research the candidates. On October 5, the candidate page on the Elections site was in the top four results on Google for 74 out of the 86 candidates in the election when searching for that candidate's name plus the word "candidate" (e.g. search Google for "Bob Bratina candidate" and his page on the Elections website is the third result).

In spite of the fact that the questions are important and the answers are being read by voters, not all candidates are as responsive as others. In fact, there is a wide range of responsiveness among the candidates, both in terms of how quickly they respond and whether or not they respond at all.

To assess the responsiveness of candidates in the election, we've developed a comprehensive report, which shows the most and least responsive candidates by ward, the level of responsiveness in each ward, and the number of responses per candidate.

The results are interesting.

Responsive Candidates

Please note: for the remainder of this article, the data referred to is as of the evening of October 6, 2010. As candidates can reply to questions at any time, the data can and do change rapidly.

Many candidates consistently demonstrate a high level of responsiveness. In the mayoral race, Michael James Baldasaro, Andrew Haines, Bob Bratina, Edward HC Graydon, Fred Eisenberger, Ken Leach, Mahesh P. Butani, and Tone Marrone have all been very responsive, with five responses or more. Responsiveness drops off from there, with Gino Speziale sending four responses, one more than Larry DiIanni's three.

Brian McHattie is consistently the most responsive candidate in Ward 1, with six responses currently. With its 20 candidates, Ward 2 is hotly contested, but a select group consistently distinguishes itself as highly responsive: Matt Jelly, Martinus Geleynse, Marvin Caplan, Ned Janjic and John Castle. Ward 3 also has a large share of responsive candidates, with Bernie Morelli, Paul Tetley, Wilamina McGrimmond and Mark DiMillo frequently sharing their positions on the issues.

Ward 7 is the most responsive ward, judged by the average number of responses per candidate, which is currently 5.5. This is thanks to the frequent contributions of John Gallagher and Keith Beck (seven and six contributions, respectively), as well as Trevor Pettit (five responses). Scott Duvall, with four responses, doesn't drag the average down much.

The second most responsive ward is Ward 13, thanks to Danya Scime, Ron Tammer, and Russ Powers, who have all provided six responses, and Glenn Robinson, with five.

A scattering of candidates from other wards round out the top responders: Jose Pablo Bustamente in Ward 10 (seven responses), Nathalie Xian Yi Yan in Ward 6 (six responses), Neil Bos in Ward 15 (six responses), and Giulio Cicconi in Ward 4, Geraldine McMullen in Ward 9, and Ken Chartrand in Ward 11, who all have five responses.

Unresponsive Candidates

The least responsive candidate in Ward 15 is Robert Pasuta, who is not really a candidate at all. Pasuta won by acclamation as the only candidate in Ward 14. His response count - zero - is thus both the least and the most in his ward.

There's a long list of people with just one, two, or three responses, which you can see for yourself. What I find most interesting is the list of people who have not responded at all.

Some of these people either became candidates on a whim, or are still living in the pre-Internet era. Take Raymond Paquette, for example. No email address, no website, and no phone numbers. I know he owns a restaurant on Dundurn, but what's his platform?

Then there's the challengers who don't bother replying, even though it'd be a great way to get exposure. Nancy Fiorentino seems like a talented challenger to Ward 9 incumbent Brad Clark, but there's no information from her on the critical issues that RTH has raised. In Ward 3, Sean Gibson's lack of any response at all puts him way behind Bernie Morelli, Paul Tetley and Wilamina McGrimmond, who all have six.

And lastly, there's the incumbents: Chad Collins in Ward 5, Tom Jackson in Ward 6, and Robert Pasuta in Ward 15. I guess Pasuta doesn't think it's worth explaining where he stands, since he's not facing any challengers. Collins doesn't list a campaign email address (or a website for that matter), and Jackson hasn't responded to any questions.

We'll keep trying.

Adrian Duyzer is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of Raise the Hammer. He lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. On Twitter: adriandz

24 Comments

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By mn (anonymous) | Posted October 07, 2010 at 09:04:32

Collins needs to go! He's a career politician settled into a plum job for his mediocre abilities.

fantastic site!

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted October 07, 2010 at 09:39:36

Great work RTH!

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 07, 2010 at 11:04:44

how can i import the data into php? can you make available a shell php file that fills all the variables for me? i know i am lazy.. but i fear I won't be able to learn json in time for the election

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 07, 2010 at 11:07:24

how can i import the data into php?

You can easily import JSON into PHP and manipulate it as a native object: http://php.net/manual/en/book.json.php

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By Shmrassroots (anonymous) | Posted October 07, 2010 at 11:19:33

Glad to see DiIanni quickly abandoned his 'grassroots' campaign, and seemingly abandoned all hopes within the RTH community.

What made him abandon it? Realization? That fatal Segway accident of it's inventor?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 07, 2010 at 12:09:57

so would one use curl to make an http request and store the result in a variable - then it can be directly json_decode()'ed? All the examples I found online were mixing javascript with php but I don't see how that is necessary simply for parsing the json object...

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted October 07, 2010 at 12:26:45

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Comment edited by turbo on 2010-10-07 11:29:01

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By adrian (registered) | Posted October 07, 2010 at 13:46:52

seancb - you don't need to use curl, you can use file_get_contents. I just wrote a super simple example that prints out the candidate's names. Check it out If you want help, you can contact me directly at adrianduyzer - at - gmail.com. Also, note that the source for both of the API projects I've done so far is open and available on Github, links at the bottom of each project.

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted October 07, 2010 at 13:49:05

Turbo,

Yeh, maybe. For now RTH will just have to keep on doing it's thing as well as it can. You know, being a progressive and interactive source of information and public dialogue. Talk about if at first you don't succeed, lower your goals.

BTW, which election site do you prefer? How much analysis is it providing?

Adrian, this is first class work! Thanks.

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By EugeneM (registered) | Posted October 07, 2010 at 16:22:31

Are there plans to ask the candidates further questions over time to compile further response data?

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted October 07, 2010 at 17:36:01

Well, I just had a call from Tom Jackson's office if I can count on their support. I told them I was disappointed in that he had a very low, not even sure if he has responded, to any questions from the RTH survey. The person said he would inform Tom of this immediately.

So this site is having an effect I'd say. Good work!

Just checked, 0 responses from him, not good Tom.

Comment edited by HamiltonFan on 2010-10-07 16:37:19

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted October 07, 2010 at 18:18:51

Candidates are more than welcome to not respond to whomever they chose, RTH and the Civic League included. I could see candidates being hesitant to answer questions from the Chamber of Commerce for similar reasons. It's like pleading the Fifth...sometimes saying nothing and letting people assume the worst is still going to leave them with a better opinion of you.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 07, 2010 at 20:12:31

Are there plans to ask the candidates further questions over time to compile further response data?

Yes. We are asking approximately two questions a week until the election.

The person said he would inform Tom of this immediately.

Apparently he did. I just received a couple of responses from Tom Jackson - I'll post them shortly.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted October 07, 2010 at 20:52:55

Ward 9

I e-mailed all 3 non-incumbent candidates asking several question about the ward and the city.

-Nancy Fiorentino never responded

-Geraldine McMullen responded within hours to acknowledge receiving the e-mail. The next day I received very detailed and specific answers to all of my questions

-Andrew Mowatt got back to me with detailed answers after about 4 days

Not only did Geraldine McMullen answer quickly, I found her positions best matched with what I thought. She also has a great deal of experience working in groups and especially male dominated groups with her time spent on the Hamilton District Labour Council. Nancy Fiorentino has a gorgeous web site, but as far as I know little else.

Comment edited by mrjanitor on 2010-10-07 19:54:42

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By adrian (registered) | Posted October 07, 2010 at 22:16:54

I just had a call from Tom Jackson's office if I can count on their support. I told them I was disappointed in that he had a very low, not even sure if he has responded, to any questions from the RTH survey.

That's awesome! I encourage everyone to do that - heck, email your councillor if they're not participating and let them know that you'd like them to. The point is not to get them to work with RTH, the point is to get them on the record about the city's most important issues.

I e-mailed all 3 non-incumbent candidates asking several question about the ward and the city.

I find it interesting that your results as a constituent are somewhat similar to RTH's experiences with the same candidates: Fiorentino not responding at all, McMullen answering quickly and thoroughly. The correlation is weaker with Mowatt, for whom we only have one response.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted October 07, 2010 at 22:36:28

Interesting Ryan, I will check out his responses. Thanks.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted October 07, 2010 at 22:49:36

I actually prefer to find as many sources as I can find and sift through all the material to find out what the real story is. Its rare that any source is without bias and even sources that I disagree strongly on editorial policy I can find useful information. One thing I've found that is common to all internet sites is that the public forum sections are rife with radical views and most posters shouldn't be given too much weight while forming an opinion on the subject being discussed. There are many insightful views but in the ebb and flow of things they are the exception rather than the rule. Its really kind of sad when a public forum is highjacked by radical views making moderate posters just give up and move on. I have found that internet forums have very little resemblance to public opinion among people that I meet day to day. This site reflects its readers rather well and tho I disagree with almost every word its educational to learn what others are thinking and every once in a while be forced to consider something that I'm not comfortable with. I just wish I didn't have to be mocked and ridiculed in the process because frankly all that does is close my mind to even considering another view

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted October 08, 2010 at 07:36:03

Regarding Ward 9 candidates...and responses...

I posted this two weeks ago: http://mystoneycreek.blogspot.com/2010/0...

Funny; I never got a response to my offer.

I'm told that the Cable 14 Ward 9 debate recently recorded and set to be broadcast next week is extraordinarily revealing in many ways, mostly in the sense of behaviour, of deportment.

I was at the Stoney Creek BIA/Chamber of Commerce/Friends of the Eramosa Karst-sponsored Candidates' Debate at the Royal Canadian Legion this week. So capabilities regarding 'responsiveness' was paramount. I might suggest that there are some consistencies in what I observed that evening with what has been presented here...and then, not.

Every instance of engagement with the public, with the press on the part of a candidate is a test. This is beyond question. They are, at every given moment, in the middle of selling their abilities to govern. Their potential to ensure the well-being of the residents of their ward...and of the city of Hamilton at large. But I suppose after my own experiences on various fronts, I'd counsel caution to anyone believing that this instance paints someone one way, or that interlude paints them another way. Candidates are people, and therefore subject to all the trials and tribulations we all are, and all the attached inconsistencies of behaviour. Not answering an email, not responding to a request may be the result of a tech glitch, it could be an administrative oversight...or it might be something a little more damning. It's often hard to tell.

Regardless, I'm heartened by the efforts of RTH, and of The Hamiltonian, and all their readers to get in there and find out what's what in this election campaign.

As Sy Syms has long said, "An educated consumer is our best customer."

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2010-10-08 06:36:56

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted October 08, 2010 at 14:02:02

mystoneycreek,

When a candidate does not answer e-mails that have not been bounced back as non-delivered I do not think it's a tech glitch, just a lack of care of the individuals there are proposing to represent. I hold this especially true when inquiries from an established forum such as RTH are ignored as well as my little citizens questions.

As to your question to the mystery candidate, was this e-mailed to them or was it just posted on your blog. If it was only a blog posting is it fair to assume the candidate has read it? If it was e-mail, did they not respond to you?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 08, 2010 at 23:18:06

@seancb - Notwithstanding my belief that PHP makes the Baby Jesus cry, I whipped up a simple example that walks through the main API page. I posted the source code so you can see what's going on.

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By Damn the MSM! (anonymous) | Posted October 10, 2010 at 11:49:59

>>RTH is really not a significant news outlet and it has a huge political agenda that precludes many candidates from being taken positively no matter how or even if they respond here.

How dare you Turbo. We will vote you down down down for that. Shame!

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By playnice (anonymous) | Posted October 11, 2010 at 17:14:14

FYI: Regarding ward 3

There is an all candidates meeting on Wednesday October 20th at St. Giles United Church 85 Holton S at Main from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. Come out and meet the candidates and your neighbors!

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 15, 2010 at 23:39:33

As at this writing, the overall response rate of candidates is 62.5%, or 415 responses out of a possible 664. 37% of candidates have answered all 8 questions; 47% have answered 7 or 8; and 54% have answered 6 or more.

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By In the Know in Ward 11 (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 14:43:40

Here's some other interesting facts about Ken Chartrand so any answers he might give to raise the hammer or any other news outlet really can't be trusted. Its already been proven he’s lying about his job credentials – just last week at the debate he said he plans municipal subdivision. I got a copy of his job description from Peel and spoke to HR over there……nope – he has nothing to do with that stuff. He approves regional road closure permits -that’s about it. He tells people he interacts with council committees – also proven not true by way of job description and Peel HR. He says he’s a big volunteerer – also proven not true (only in 2010 did he start to volunteer his time). He said he was on a healing retreat in Phoenix for his knee surgery – his wife was there for a work trip (there was evidence of it on her website sharonquirt.com) and he tagged along.
This guy and his wife have embarrassed themselves with such childish behaviour by verbally attacking volunteers at events and with lies and embellishments so much that there is an “anybody but Ken” movement. A huge number of people in my community have rethought their vote. We want integrity not lies and “smooth talking” cheap salesmen tricks. Luckily we've discovered Ken's deceit in time.

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