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July 20, 2009

How should we choose a new mayor? Hold a lottery

If Larry O'Brien is found guilty of the influence-peddling charges against him, he'll have to step down as mayor of Ottawa. Justice Douglas Cunningham is expected to deliver his verdict on August 12, so we thought that in the meantime we should start talking about how we should pick the new mayor, just in case it comes to that.

If O'Brien has to resign, City Council would either have to hold a by-election, or appoint an acting mayor. A by-election is expensive, and if councillors appoint someone, chances are that he or she will bring a lot of political baggage along to the mayor's office.

Our solution: Hold a lottery to choose the interim mayor of Ottawa. Here's how it would work. (With apologies to Scott Gardiner, who employed a similar scheme to choose the Governor General in King John of Canada.)
  1. Lottery is open to all residents of Ottawa over 18 years of age. To be considered a resident you just have to prove a permanent address in the city.
  2. Each lottery ticket costs $5.
  3. The winner of the lottery would have to pass a police/security check.
That's it.

Lots of positives:
  • All proceeds from the lottery go to the City of Ottawa's operating budget for 2010 to reduce the tax bill.
  • Cheaper to run than a traditional election
  • No barriers to enter the political process - anybody can enter.
  • Opportunity for national and international publicity. Media outlets from around the globe will want to cover the lottery and profile the new mayor. The lottery selection would be broadcast live over the internet around the world.
  • Whoever you get can't be much worse than the politicians we currently have!
More later this week ... let us know what you think by adding a comment below!

Related:
Ottawa Politics Guide

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