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FRONT PORCH PERSPECTIVE: First Timers Seeking Council

May 31, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Stephen Somerville

While we all (I hope) know that the provincial election is just getting underway, the next Aurora municipal election will take place on Monday, October 22. From the Town’s website; there are three interesting things to take note of:
First, residents of Aurora will be able to participate in internet voting in the advanced voting period.This will allow voters to cast their vote on any device with an internet connection, from anywhere in the world.
Second, the number of Aurora Councillors has been reduced from eight (8) to six (6) Councillors.
Third, the election campaign period has been reduced.The first day that nominations can be filed is May 1, 2018. The deadline to file nominations for the regular election has been moved to July 27, 2018.
I am not sure how many new people we will have seeking Council seats. Below are some thoughts for the “newbies”.
Many trees have been felled in the study of democratic renewal and re-invigorating both our electoral process and our public institutions. There have been a myriad of reports, studies, focus groups and polling done on this issue.
But whether or not we have good government fundamentally comes down to the occupants of the elected seats.
We don’t necessarily need to be governed by the best educated or by those with the highest incomes.
In fact, if you look at the experience of our contemporary leaders, they come from many different backgrounds. The current Prime Minister is a teacher by training, while the last one was an economist. The current Premier of Ontario previously led citizens’ groups in a number of grassroots community projects.
We do need, however, to elect people who represent and reflect the best qualities of our community.
We need people who truly are of our community, in our community and for our community. They need to put the Town’s interest ahead of their own narrowly defined self-interest. And the people we elect should have as their goal simply quality of, and selflessness of service, rather than longevity of service.
Our Council needs people from all walks of life, who have enthusiasm and energy to burn, and who, although possessing strong opinions are at the same time consensus builders, who work hard and get things done.
This fall when I am looking for someone to support I begin the process by reviewing the brochures or simple pamphlets produced by the respective candidates.
I look for information on four broad areas; education, professional/vocational background, volunteer endeavors and accomplishments and the issues and answers that the candidate has identified as important.
We should be looking at the whole person. For instance, someone might not have much of a formal education, but their professional/vocational or volunteer accomplishments would make up for it. Or their stance on three or four important issues maybe particularly compelling.
Regarding education: Do they have any post-secondary training? If so, in what area? Do they have any specialized knowledge, i.e. energy, public safety, health, social work, education?

What have they done in their private life? What type of career have they had. Do they belong to any professional organizations?
Have they participated in any volunteer activities? If so, for how long and in what capacity? Are they or have they been in the past a coach, referee or administrator for any of the local sports organizations?
If not presently a member of Council, have they attended any of the public Council meetings? Do they sit on any of the community committees? Are they part of any ratepayer group?
Have they taken the time to write letter(s) to the editor on a particular issue in the past? What was the issue that made them write?
And finally, there are certainly lots of municipal issues for local voters to chew on; growth, the level of spending, stable neighbourhoods, to name a few, but what will be the top three issues that a candidate keys on?
The brochure does not necessarily need to be expensive or ornate, but it should be visually appealing to the eye and should attempt to provide a balanced view of the candidate.
For those who are seeking office for the first time, spend time on making the brochure/pamphlet a good one. For many candidates it is the first point of contact with the voting public, and as my mom always said, first impressions are important.

Stephen can be contacted at stephengsomerville@yahoo.com

         

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