July 5, 2010 2:33 PM
The rules regarding who can run in the election for mayor of a town are much the same in most of the world’s democracies. Elections laws customarily require that candidates live in the town, be of a certain age, be a citizen of the country in which the town is located, etc. The rules are not much different in St. Catharine’s, Ontario, Canada. But a man who lives in nearby Niagara Falls has found a way to bend them. He has rented a St. Catharine’s self storage unit and has listed it as his residence in St. Catharine’s, allowing him to enter the St. Catharine’s mayoral race.
“I could have rented an apartment, but why?” argues John (Ringo) Beam in today’s St. Catharine’s Standard. “Look at the money I saved...If I’m elected, I’ll find the cheapest way to do everything.”
The St. Catharine’s storage locker contains 25 square feet of space, and costs Beam $50 per month. To be certain that the rented space met the legal requirements for residency, election coordinator Karen Ellison went to the city’s legal department. It turns out that the legal requirement can be fulfilled not only be residing in a municipality, but also by owning or renting land there.
Still, Ellison remarked in today’s St. Catharine’s Standard that this was the first time anyone had tried to use this loophole to run for mayor. “We certainly did check into it,” she explained, “but he did his homework.”
Beam said he did not see the issue as a problem. “Hey, we’re a region; I’m not bringing any parochialism with me,” he told The Standard. “I’m in St. Catharine’s almost every day, talking to people.”
The St. Catharine’s mayoral race will not be Beam’s first stab at politics. He has also run for mayor in his home town, Niagara Falls, where he claimed in 2006 that a vote for him would be a vote for “chaos and anarchy.” The next year, he ran a tongue-in-cheek Facebook campaign to get Niagara Falls residents to vote him a wonder of Niagara Falls (they voted overwhelmingly for the Flying Saucer restaurant instead).
This time, though, Beam claims to be serious. He says he has a better plan than incumbent mayor Brian McMullan for free public transit and building a 6,600 seat Ontario Hockey League facility for the Niagara Ice Dogs.
McMullan, who is also an Ice Dogs fan, says he welcomes the competition. “I guess I would say, ‘game on,’” said the mayor in today’s St. Catharine’s Standard. “We’re both Ice Dogs fans, we both want to see a great new facility built in this community....But you won’t see chaos and anarchy making it into my platform.”
Larocque, Corey. “Beam runs for mayor...of St. Catharine’s.” The Niagara Falls Review. June 30, 2010.
“Nominate JOHN BEAM for a wonder of Niagara Falls.” Facebook.
Van Dongen, Matthew. “From storage locker to mayor’s chair.” The St. Catharine’s Standard. July 5, 2010.