Editorial: On the run

Trent Ernst, Editor


I got nothin’.

Sorry, folks. While the last two editorials nearly burned their way to get out of my fingertips in their desire to get onto the page, this week, nothing is pouring forth from my fingers.

It’s not for lack of things to write about. I was going to say something about Facebook, and how we as a society communicate over there, and the death of modern discourse, but frankly, I’m getting a little tired of telling people that what you say about others says more about you than about the person you’re talking about, and lately, a lot of people have been saying a lot of things that reveal their character as, well, let’s say flawed. And, yes, I realize you could take my own stated standards, and hold them up to the mirror, but that’s okay. Because there’s a difference (I like to tell myself as I lay awake at night) between having a sound judgment and being judgmental.

I could also speak about the elections and about the fact that we need to show sound Elements in choosing a candidate (see what I did there?). Far too often, municipal elections are run like popularity contests, and  the person with the most friends, wins.

My sister (who somewhere along the line became a career politician), says that you should look at the candidates as potential employees. Pretend you were hiring a person for the position of governance of this town. What qualities would you most like to see? What sort of research would you do?

Speaking of my sister, she recently posted a story from Danielle Klooster, a town councillor from Penhold, AB, called “Five Reasons You Shouldn’t Run for Local Government.”  I’m going to quote liberally from this, and perhaps we could turn this into candidate bingo; each time you hear a candidate say one of these lines, you get to check off a number on your scorecard.

1) People are ready for change. According to Klooster, everyone says this for every election. If the best you can do is “Hey, I’m new…” But do you understand budgeting, water, sewer garbage collection, bylaws, social and economic development?

2) I’m going to clean up this town!: Um, no you’re not. A politician’s job is governance, not management.  If you want to clean up this town, apply for a job running the street sweeping machine. You’ll have to fight Bruce for the job, though….

3) I’m going to fix THIS. One issue campaigns can be effective, but again, We’ve had people get elected by promising the sky, then discover that their biggest campaign promise is actually against the Municipal Government Act. Whoops.

4) I’m going to get rid of the current corrupt/secretive/self-serving/incompetent bunch. Wow, it’s like Klooster’s been reading the Tumbler Ridge Facebook sites. No, this happens all over the place, and is often successful. And, while it can work, it’s a poor foundation for being a part of a team, especially if all the rest of the people elected are the ones you called corrupt/incompetent/whatever. Besides, if the best you can come up with is “Elect me, because I’m not them,” you’re going to be in trouble. Council is all about making wise decisions together for the benefit of all.

5) I’m going to make fiscal responsibility my number one priority. Klooster says this could be the most irresponsible thing ever said by a candidate. If all you want to do is save money, then abolish taxes and let’s go home. “After all, what’s the point of even having taxes if the only thing we care about is not spending any money?”

Yes, fiscal accountability and responsible spending are important. But the number one responsibility of the councillor is to build community infrastructure for future generations.

Next week, I may just give you six good reasons for running for council.