Today is civic and municipal election day across British Columbia, including in Burnaby, the Vancouver suburb where I have lived since age two. In contrast to the scrap and probable political upheaval in Vancouver itself, Burnaby has had a relatively quiet campaign, largely because the incumbent Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA) has run the city pretty well over the last decade and a half, preserving lots of parkland, attracting high-tech industry, and even completely eliminating Burnaby's debt. Current mayor Doug Drummond is returning to life as a full-time math teacher (he taught part-time while mayor, something some people disliked), so council member Derek Corrigan is shooting for the mayor's job, against contenders Jim Dixon and Brian Bonney.
Some might think the budget surplus strange, since the BCA is a left-leaning party affiliated with the provincial NDP, who were notorious during their reign in the '90s for white-elephant megaprojects and large deficits. Of course, the current provincial Liberals (actually more the result of a reverse takeover by the long-dead but formerly dominant Social Credit party), while elected to be fiscally responsible, are projecting a bigger deficit than any the NDP managed, largely because of an irresponsible tax cut when they entered office just as the economy started tanking.
Back to the subject. The opposing parties, TEAM Burnaby and the Burnaby Voters' Non-Partisan Association, seem to have made most of their platforms out of ineffectively bashing the BCA or its candidates. Although they have some good ideas, and the BCA certainly deserves some criticism on issues it has not handled well, I personally see no reason why either organization would run the city better than the BCA has. Additionally, the BCA school trustees have at least said they oppose the kind of cost-cutting and half-thought-out educational restructuring being imposed by the provincial government, even if they haven't done much about it. Several of the TEAM and BVNPA candidates appear more on-side with the B.C. Liberals, something I cannot support.
Finally, independent city council candidates Parvin Chami and Kit Nichols have made a good impression during the campaign, while school board candidates Kimberly Flick and Tony Svorinic seem willing to deal with some difficult questions in an intelligent way. I'll likely mark my ballots for them, as well as a couple of TEAM and BVNPA candidates who I know are good people, with the balance of my votes supporting the BCA.
Last election, Burnaby experimented with machine-scanned (rather than hand-counted) paper ballots, which seemed to work well. At least we here in Canada have not gone down the hellish road of over-automation seen in the U.S.