HOW TO BECOME A COUNCIL CANDIDATE AND WIN
There is a great deal of prestige that comes to those elected to council but at a cost. The cost is family time, personal freedom and the need to study is much like going back to school. The learning process is long and hard and although the perk of travel on an expense account might seem attractive those travel miles and the meal cost coverage is worth the compensation when a councillor needs to learn an entire new language.
Aside from becoming part of a team it is important to keep abreast of legislation enacted by the province that will impact your community. Learning legislation demanded by the province also includes learning the individual municipality’s operation. Whether a first term or longstanding council members learning never stops.
The Clerk Treasurer or CEO of the community is every councillor’s greatest source for learning and keeping updated on everything that is happening or has happened in the past. Communication with all department heads is something that should be a priority especially if the municipality deals with departments as a committee of the whole. Contact with department heads is also important if the mayor or reeve assigns councillors to departmental committees. Councillors have a responsibility to work with the department that he or she is assigned to work with, but a good council member will also be aware of the needs and direction of all departments. That is the job a councillor is elected to perform.
Learning to cooperate with others on council and the art of compromise to accomplish your ideas and the needs is important. Passing motions requires a majority of votes to pass. Getting motions passed reflect a councillor’s degree of success. Lashing out angrily or deciding to seek revenge when a fellow councillor wants to pass a constructive motion he sometimes leads to others on council reacting negatively. Disagreements over personal favoritisms and agendas can affect council adversely.
The reason for declaring your candidacy as soon as possible is to allow voters to know what you stand for if elected. You must let voters know the positive legislation you intend to try to accomplish during the four years council members are assured of being in office. Convincing electors that you intend to hold taxation at an acceptable level and serve their interests is of utmost importance.
To criticize past council actions for a perceived wrong doing is usually the result of uniformed and unfair comments from some of the public. While serving it is incumbent upon an elected official to voice his or her concern when an issue becomes a public issue that cannot be resolved through a negotiated agreement of council. Any councillor with the support of a majority of council can demand a public review of circumstance considered illegal or even unethical. However the issue needs a personal investigation of all the circumstances surrounding the problem.
Communication with the electorate on a regular basis is essential to a smooth running municipal council. When accusations of administration running the town for the benefit of an individual department or group becomes a public issue councillors must communicate with the public until the complaint or supposition is overcome. Municipal employees are responsible to the administration but ultimately owe their existence to the electorate.
A good election platform is not criticizing what the last or any previous council did or did not do for the municipality. Declaring initiatives you would like to accomplish as a council member in concert with everyone else allows voters decide on the person most desired to be elected. For instance if the previous council announced it overspent budgets or wants to buy equipment that the public when hearing of the intention opposes criticizing the issue for the sensation it might cause as a reason for your election is not wise. Instead include the issue in your platform without making reference to the past. Speak personally to past councillors and the administration explaining you are running as a candidate and need to know the history of contentious issues. You can then make the issues part of your campaign with respect to solving the problems. Commenting on any issue just for the sake of agreeing with uniformed critics or friends on council or administration is not conducive to a strong council member if elected.
The most positive method to construct a positive campaign that will almost certainly be successful is to choose a list of four to six issues are known to be contentious and talked about by the electorate then fully research the real reasons for the items becoming a talking issue. There is always more than one side to every problem and learning the facts will make you a strong well liked council member by both other council members and the public. Most of all it will make your new career more effective and satisfying. Be prepared for a great deal of work, and personal sacrifice. The money earned will be minimal for the work and pressure the post will mean.