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Election results give more of the same

Once again, the status quo held fast as about one-third of the electorate voted for municipal politicians on the weekend.

Once again, the status quo held fast as about one-third of the electorate voted for municipal politicians on the weekend.

With a few exceptions, the municipal elections entrenched the power of elected officials and showed voters have no great desire for change.

As usual, voter turnout was low even though the municipal level of government affects people in more ways on a daily basis than other levels of government.

The result is that mayors have become more powerful and a middleof-the-road philosophy dominates the political landscape.

In Vancouver, the farleft COPE was shut out.

The right-wing NPA landed just two council seats, but the centre-left Vision Vancouver has emerged as the dominant, potent political force in the region.

In Metro Vancouver, more than a dozen incumbent mayors won re-election, with many of them piling up big majorities.

Mayors like Vancouver's Gregor Robertson, Surrey's Dianne Watts, Richmond's Malcolm Brodie and Burnaby's Derek Corrigan have become immovable political czars for the region.

Watts, Robertson and Corrigan, in particular, have all but vanquished their opposition as their political machines have become even more powerful.

While they all tilt right or left, none of them pushes ideology very far. They don't go looking for problems, and instead appear to focus on solving them.

For the most part, they play it safe along with their councils and as a result give voters little cause to boot them from office.

For all the abuse Robertson has taken for such things as bike lanes and backyard chickens, the voters obviously didn't think they were the kinds of issues to vote him out of office.

One of the few incumbent mayors who did lose - Abbotsford's George Peary - probably lost because he backed a controversial P3 project for drinking water.

It was the kind of issue that had an ideological aspect to it, and the result was that a vast majority of voters turned against it and the mayor championing it.

There may be a lesson here for the provincial political scene. Embracing anything too right wing or left wing at the civic level can exact a hefty price, and the same may hold true for the provincial level.

For example, it would appear to be wise for Adrian Dix and the NDP to steer well clear of anything linked with policies associated with COPE and to instead align itself more with Vision Vancouver and its more moderate positions.

In fact, Dix and his gang appear to be doing just that.

As for the B.C. Liberals, normally they could take heart from the fact that incumbents have proven to be so powerful. But that may actually work against them at the provincial level.

After more than 10 years in power, the "time for a change" argument can resonate quite well at a higher level of government than the municipal level.

It may well prove to be the NDP's slogan in 2013, as it was back in 1991.

The B.C. Liberals can take some comfort, however, in the fact the municipal election results did not show much evidence of a big shift to the left.

Apart from the tiny group of Occupiers, the general crankiness that occasionally flares up over such issues as tax hikes simply wasn't there on voting day.

The result is more of the same, with the same politicians running the show.

Keith Baldrey is chief political reporter for Global BC.