Editorial: Why I am not running for town council

Trent Ernst, Editor

 

Every time an election rolls around, I keep hearing a rumour that I’m going to be running for council. So let’s nip this in the bud right now: No. I am not running for council. I have no desire to run for council.  And the chances of me running for council anytime soon are slim to none.

I can see why the rumours might start. For the last year or so, I have attended nearly every meeting of council. I think my attendance record is better than most of the people who sit on council.

Because of that, I’ve started to get a fair grip on what’s happening at a District level. I’ve sat through three rounds of budgeting, listened to arguments for and against the new Visitor Centre, I’ve read the reports around the museum, and I have seen with my own eyes the impact that the mine closures have had on the community.

So, yes, I’ve got a good grasp of the issues. I’ve got a lot of ideas on what we as a community should be doing, and I am passionate about wanting to see this community succeed.

But I am not going to run for council.

Why? Quite frankly, it’s because I’ve been listening to the way we talk about the politicians in this town, and I would never want to be subject to such animosity.

I’m sure there are people who gather round the water cooler to complain about the paper and the making fun of the fact that there was a misspelled word or last week’s crossword run again. Or how the stories that I write aren’t as hard hitting as they might like.

But that’s nothing the way people treat the local politicians. They are insulted, ignored, castigated and mocked.

Their only crime? Caring enough about this community to get up and do something.

Now, I’m not saying that every decision that Council has made has been a great one. Nor am I saying that I support every single decision they’ve made. Far from it.

I have friends who are card carrying members of the conservative party, and friends who are card carrying members of the NDP. For one, Harper can do no wrong, for the other, he can do no right. Party members are not allowed to have opinions or ideas; that’s the leadership’s role.

But here in Tumbler Ridge, there are no political parties. There’s just people who want to make a contribution to this community. There are people whose hearts are in the right place and who set out to help this community.

But as soon as they are elected, in most people’s eyes they change from dedicated community member to scum sucking dirtbag.

I know I keep saying this, and I’ll keep saying this and maybe someday, people will listen. This community that we live in? It’s ours. More than that, it’s us. It’s not something that exists outside of us, it IS us. Not you. Not me. But all of us, together.

That doesn’t mean that we have to have the same ideas of vote for the same people. But it does mean WE create the society we live in.

This election season, I don’t want to fall into the same trap as we are so prone to, of taking and putting our politicians on a pedestal so we can then throw stones at them.

Instead, I want to propose … democracy. Not just the casting and counting of votes, to elect a modern aristocracy, but being a part of a living, breathing organism in much the way cells make up a body. To have a share in this community, in this democracy, and to let it have a share in us.

Which brings us back to our local politicians, who exist not as aristocracy—the wise, noble rulers of our community—but as an expression of who we are as a community. They are part of US, and we cannot blame them for the problems we see in the community. But what we can do is join them in working together to make this community better.