Quick guide to where the St. John’s election candidates stand

Using data from the Indy’s questionnaire, we highlight candidates’ positions on polarizing issues.

Last week, The Independent released a comprehensive survey of candidates for St. John’s City Council.  The questionnaire is a bit long though, so I wrote this article for people who want a quick takeaway without wading through all the answers (you should also check out this short quiz for choosing At-Large candidates created by Marc-André Brien).

I have scored the candidates according to four polarizing issues gleaned from the “do you agree with this statement” part of the survey. A detailed explanation of how the scores are calculated is provided at the end of the article.

Public Transit and Sidewalk Snow Clearing

Candidates who support more investment in public transit also tend to support more investment in sidewalk snow clearing (questions ‘d’ and ‘j’).  The underlying issue seems to be helping people get around the city without a car. The higher the score, the more support the candidate has expressed for investing in these services (e.g. Fred Winsor supports more investment in these areas, while Bruce Tilley has indicated that large new investments are not a good use of taxpayers’ money).

Support for more spending on Public Transit and Sidewalk Snow Clearing

Fred Winsor At Large 10
Geoff Chaulk Mayor 10
Paul Sears At Large 10
Deanne Stapleton At Large 10
Sheilagh O’Leary Mayor 9
Cecil Whitten At Large 9
Sherwin Flight Ward 5 9
Lionel West At Large 8
Dave Lane At Large 8
Lorne Loder At Large 8
Jennifer McCreath Deputy Mayor 7
Derek Winsor At Large 7
Sarah Colborne Penney
Ward 3 6
Scott Fitzgerald Ward 2 6
Andrew Harvey Ward 2 5
Ron Ellsworth Deputy Mayor 5
Bernard Davis Ward 4 5
Tom Badcock At Large 4
Lou Puddister Ward 4 4
Walter Harding Ward 3 4
Sandy Hickman At Large 4
Bruce Tilley Ward 3 4

Urban Sprawl and Mixed Development

Candidates who strongly support tackling urban sprawl also tend to support more mixing of residential and commercial development (questions ‘c’ and ‘r’). Those at the top of the list support denser and more mixed development, while those at the bottom are less supportive. For example, Sheilagh O’Leary has indicated strong support for more mixed development and measures to reduce urban sprawl, while Deanne Stapleton has indicated less enthusiasm for such policies.

Support for Density and Mixed Development

Sheilagh O’Leary Mayor 10
Lionel West At Large 10
Sarah Colborne Penney Ward 3 10
Andrew Harvey Ward 2 10
Tom Badcock At Large 10
Fred Winsor At Large 9
Dave Lane At Large 9
Lorne Loder At Large 9
Jennifer McCreath Deputy Mayor 9
Geoff Chaulk Mayor 8
Derek Windsor At Large 8
Ron Ellsworth Deputy Mayor 8
Bernard Davis Ward 4 8
Cecil Whitten At Large 7
Sherwin Flight Ward 5 7
Scott Fitzgerald Ward 2 7
Lou Puddister Ward 4 7
Walter Harding Ward 3 7
Sandy Hickman At Large 6
Bruce Tilley Ward 3 6
Paul Sears At Large 5
Deanne Stapleton At Large 4

Heritage and Parks

Candidates who show strong support for heritage protection also tend to favour increased spending on parks (questions ‘h’ and ‘n’). The common issue is creating attractive public spaces that people want to spend time in. Lionel West seems to place a lot of importance on these issues; Geoff Chaulk not so much.

Support for Heritage Protection and Increased Spending on Parks

Lionel West At Large 9
Fred Winsor At Large 9
Dave Lane At Large 9
Jennifer McCreath Deputy Mayor 9
Scott Fitzgerald Ward 2 9
Sheilagh O’Leary Mayor 9
Lou Puddister Ward 4 9
Ron Ellsworth Deputy Mayor 8
Derek Windsor At Large 8
Paul Sears At Large 8
Cecil Whitten At Large 8
Sherwin Flight Ward 5 7
Sandy Hickman At Large 7
Bernard Davis Ward 4 7
Sarah Colborne Penney Ward 3 6
Deanne Stapleton At Large 6
Lorne Loder At Large 5
Walter Harding Ward 3 5
Tom Badcock At Large 5
Andrew Harvey Ward 2 4
Bruce Tilley Ward 3 4
Geoff Chaulk Mayor 2


Another polarizing issue is amalgamation with neighbouring communities (question ‘p’). For example, Bruce Tilley and Andrew Harvey strongly support pursuing amalgamation, while Ron Ellsworth and Sherwin Flight strongly oppose the idea.

Support for Amalgamation

Bruce Tilley Ward 3 5
Andrew Harvey Ward 2 5
Tom Badcock At Large 5
Lou Puddister Ward 4 5
Cecil Whitten At Large 4
Bernard Davis Ward 4 4
Sandy Hickman At Large 3
Deanne Stapleton At Large 3
Lorne Loder At Large 3
Sheilagh O’Leary Mayor 3
Sarah Colborne Penney Ward 3 3
Geoff Chaulk Mayor 3
Derek Windsor At Large 3
Walter Harding Ward 3 3
Paul Sears At Large 3
Scott Fitzgerald Ward 2 2
Jennifer McCreath Deputy Mayor 2
Lionel West At Large 1
Fred Winsor At Large 1
Dave Lane At Large 1
Ron Ellsworth Deputy Mayor 1
Sherwin Flight Ward 5 1


Disclaimer: these scores do not fully capture the views of the candidates. For example, some candidates have ideas for improving services without spending more money on them, and this is not really captured above. Furthermore, the analysis is necessarily limited to candidates who completed the survey. Despite these limitations, I think these metrics provide a rough idea of where the candidates stand on some important issues. To read the candidates’ views in their own words, take a look at the survey answers linked at the bottom of the article Who will lead St. John’s?.

Explanation of the metrics

The metrics were devised by first applying a numerical score to each answer: 1 = Strongly Agree,  2 = Somewhat Agree, 3 = Neither Agree nor Disagree, 4 = Somewhat Disagree, 5 = Strongly Disagree. Then I looked for questions on which there was large variation in the answers (i.e. large standard deviation), and for pairs of questions where there was significant correlation which could reasonably be lumped together. The numerical scores for the issues above are simply the sum of the number scores for the answers. In some cases I switched the scoring so that 5 = Strongly Agree, 4 = Somewhat Agree, …., 1 = Strongly Disagree, for the sake of consistency, so that a large number means support for a policy rather than opposition to a policy.

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