Jake Smola has been in the news recently and I’m sure he’s not happy about it as he prepares to leave Regional Council to seek a seat on Kitchener City Council representing Ward 7.

Seems he’s about $35,000 in arrears on child support and was brought before court in handcuffs after missing three appearances. Here is the original article from August 21 from August 21 and here is the follow-up from August 23.

On one level, this matter is purely personal, unfortunately not uncommon and there is no direct connection upon his ability to serve on Council. Jake Smola may want to consider though whether his civic responsibilities are helping or hindering his ability to give sufficient attention to his personal life and he may want to place more of a focus on it. But only he knows the answer and that is his decision.

The timing is unfortunate because given his extensive municipal experience, Smola could be an asset around a Council table dominated by rookies. At the same time coming just before the election heats up, I believe it is legitimate for voters to consider these arrears and missed court dates in making their decision. I am not suggesting that it should cost him votes because politicians with imperfect personal lives have made great contributions in the past, but at the same time it will likely raise some concerns for voters in Ward 7 as they weigh their choices.

I am happy that they have choices. I was concerned that if Jake decided to drop out or if voters decided they didn’t want him back on city council that his challenger might find the path to election much smoother than anticipated. I now see that there is another candidate in that ward. But given the uncertainty that has arisen, I would hope that at least one other viable candidate would come forward to ensure voters in this ward have at least one other quality choice available to them.

6 thoughts on “Uncertainty enters the race in Ward 7

  1. His personal problems may not have a bearing on how he can serve on council, but they do say something about his priorities and his character. As a resident of that ward I’m certainly glad Susan Koswan has entered the race. It may not be fair, but people in public office are judged publicly on matters that most of us are not.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Clare. I think you’ve nicely described why I suggested voters may take this situation into account. This explains why if enough people reach the same conclusion that you did, that there be a strong field of candidates with or without Jake Smola. I wouldn’t want anyone to get in by default. I appreciate your comment that Susan Kosowan helps to strengthen the field but I’m not sure how strong a candidate if the other does. So I’m still hoping that we’ll see at least one more viable candidate enter this race that may not have when it seemed to be a lock for Jake.

    1. There was a time when a politician’s personal life was private but the media crossed that line long ago. Politicians themselves are often eager to present themselves as happily married with kids. It’s a good strategy but comes with it the risk if it all unravels. Still I find that the media tends to respect politicians personal lives unless it crosses a line. Being so substantially in arrears and repeatedly missing court dates so that he needed to be forced to appear crosses a line that makes this situation relevant to voters.

  2. I have to say that I’m a little irritated by some of the statements made above. Since when did Canadian politics turn into the mudslinging garbage that Americans deal in with their election campaigns? Jake Smola’s personal life is NONE of our business. He’s been a councillor since 1994, more than 15 years and frankly, that experience speaks more to me than some personal issues in his life. We, the general public, have NO idea why he is in the situation he is in. Maybe his ex-wife is a nightmare to deal with? Being a woman, I can tell you that a lot of ex-wives are! The public has no notion of what she could have put him through that would force him to take such drastic measures as the ones he did. It doesn’t matter and is not our business. It has nothing to do with how he performs his job.

    While I may not agree with some of his choices, combining his personal life with his professional abilities to do what is right for me in my ward smacks of American smear campaigning. I thought we Canadians, especially those of us residing in “the most intelligent community in the world” (or right next to it in any case), would know better than to judge someone based on personal life situations that we know NOTHING about. And seriously…do you really believe EVERYTHING The Record prints? Have we become so naive that we need a sheppard to herd us? He’s shown exemplary service to my community and region in the past. He hits a bump in the road of his personal life and we think we have the right to judge him for that?

    We all have skeletons in our closets and they don’t affect our right to earn our living and serve our communities. Everyone has a personal and professional life, he has a right to this too. Should he clean up his personal life? Absolutely. Does it affect his ability to perform his job? Not one iota, not my business.

    1. Thanks for your comments Wendy. It’s definitely a valid position. My intent here was primarily to ensure that there was a strong field of candidate’s in the race because there was not at the time this situation hit the news. I am happy that there now are several good candidates for voters to choose from. It’ll be up to them to determine if Jake’s personal life is a factor in their decision. Personally, I hope they make their decision on what is best for Kitchener and look at where the candidates stand on the issues council will need to make decisions on. This should be an interesting race to watch.

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