For each municipal election, this newspaper publishes a special election guide edition that features full bios, photos, and other information related to the candidates who will be seeking our votes in October. It is an important issue that has won this newspaper an award not so many years ago from the Ontario Community Newspaper Association for community service. It is an issue published every four years in which we take much pride.
This week, in preparation for the traditional Municipal Election Guide issue of our newspaper, the council candidate information forms have been sent out to the nine currently declared candidates.
As with previous elections, the package I send to all current candidates asks them to provide some background as to who they are, and what they are about. Beyond that, I have asked the candidates to share with our readers what they feel should be the top priorities for the next term of council, their reasons for choosing to put their name on the ballot, and, as I do each municipal election, I have asked the candidates to explain their understanding of the role of council, and members of council, a question that some candidates in the past have had difficulty answering.
When it comes to municipal elections, I think it is important for voters to know as much about the candidates as possible; it is important for us to understand their motives and intentions, and it is incredibly important that voters can assess whether the candidate even knows what the job of councillor actually entails, and what members of council are actually able to influence. Over the years I have found a surprising number of council candidates, along with residents, who misunderstand the role and powers of council, and they often assume that an individual member of council has the power to move mountains, when the reality is that whether you’re the mayor or a regular member of council, you are but one of seven votes, and that is the extent of your actual influence over any issue: one vote.
Though there is a long history and tradition in the newspaper business of endorsing candidates come election time, since I first launched this newspaper my policy has been to not endorse candidates ever, and this election will be no exception. My goal for municipal elections is simply to provide our readers with relevant information about the candidates, to share my thoughts on various issues facing the municipality, and then to step out of the way and let our readers form their own opinions. That is why our municipal election guide issue has been so valuable to our readers, as we gather in one place the photos, bios, and other information for all of the candidates, allowing readers to dive in and sort out for themselves who makes the cut, and who does not.
All candidates will need to return the candidate information package to us by the end of this month, so those last minute candidates will have less time to complete the form and return it than the early bird candidates who received their package via email at the start of this week. Candidates who do not submit their form and photo in time will not be included in our election guide. Deadlines are deadlines, and in each municipal election there’s a candidate or two requesting an extension, but for some the first hard lesson when running for council is that you don’t set the rules, and if you snooze, you can lose.
I look forward to receiving the responses from this year’s crop of candidates, and sharing them with our readers. I hope that readers will spend some time thoroughly reading through our election guide, which will be published in late September, a full month or so prior to election day. My hope is that, as in the past, our election guide will provide our readers with the information they need in order to feel confident in their vote on election day.
To all of the current candidates, and to those who may announce in the coming days, as always I wish all the very best of luck. It is no small decision to run for municipal council, and I have great respect for anyone who makes the choice to run, whether I agree with their ideas or not.
By the time this editorial is published on August 4, there will be just 15 days remaining for potential candidates to file their paperwork with the municipal clerk in order to launch a campaign. The August 19 deadline is actually just 11 business days away, so time is quickly running out for those who are considering a run for council.
It is your council, so take the time to get informed, and make your vote count.