At the time of this writing, we are just five months away from the upcoming 2018 Municipal Elections. That was pointed out to me just this past weekend by my wife, Brenda. It got me thinking about elections and the candidate selection process. I think one of the reasons why voter turnout is typically low in local elections is that the candidates are not that well-known to the people who are expected to do the voting.
When I say this, I am referring primarily to the influx of new people to the community who have moved here since the last election almost four years ago. So, how do you decide on what candidates you will vote for? I have a short checklist I follow and I thought I would share it here to give you a bit of assistance before hitting the polls in October. Remember, in Princeton you are electing one Mayor and four Councillors to form your Town Council. Here are my tips:
1 – What Are You Looking For In A Candidate?
This is a very important first step. You need to decide what qualities you seek in a candidate. You can approach this in one of two ways. You can judge a candidate on where they stand on local issues or you can choose to evaluate the kind of experience they have that would be brought to the Council table. Both of these are very important factors and they will help you to focus on the type of person you want to support come voting day.
2 – Who Are The Candidates?
Here is where you will have to do some of your own homework. Once the Nomination Period closes, you will have an opportunity to know who all the candidates are who have filed paperwork that makes them eligible to run in the election. You may already know a few of them and you may not know others. Watch for candidate bios in the paper, seek websites on the candidates, attend all-candidate forums and ask friends and neighbours for information.
3 – What Are Their Positions?
As you learn more about the candidates, keep track in a notebook where each one stands on local issues. Pay particular attention to the issues and concerns that matter most to you as that will give you something to focus on. You may discover all, few or none of the candidates share your concerns. However, your evaluation should include the way in which each candidate feels about key local issues. In the upcoming Princeton Municipal Elections expect hot button issues to include the ATV/KVR matter, the aquatic centre, aging water and wastewater infrastructure, community growth, tourism and healthcare.
4 – What Leadership Qualities Do They Have?
This is another very important factor in choosing a candidate to support in a local election. You are looking for leaders, not followers to represent you and your community at the local government level. Each candidate will have experience that may or may not include leadership of some kind. For many voters, candidates who have lived in the community for some time, have owned a local business, are active in the community or have performed volunteer work in the non-profit sector make good choices. For other voters, someone new to the community without any bias makes a good selection. The important thing to remember is whoever gets elected will sit on Town Council for the next four years.
5 – What Are Others Saying About Them?
This was mentioned briefly already. However, if you are either new to the community or you don’t really know any of the candidates that well, don’t be afraid to ask around. The higher profile candidates will be slightly better known than others but that doesn’t always mean they are the better candidates, either. This is why you should quiz others about candidates you are considering supporting in the Municipal Election to help you finalize your decision. Sometimes someone will know something that will either solidify your choice or cause you to reevaluate.
6 – What Sources Should I Use?
This is a little bit tricky in today’s world of new technology. While social media is a great tool for many reasons, you may want to carefully consider the sources of the information you are reading. In fact, that is the general rule of thumb with all information you receive. You have to decide whether or not you truly trust the website, social media page, neighbour or printing material you are using for your fact finding. In Princeton, there are many credible sources available to you. If you are not sure of one, then do not use it for information.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Forget To Vote!
I hope that by sharing my personal checklist of what I do to choose someone to vote for in an election has helped you in doing the same. If I can add one thing to this list it would be a reminder to actually cast a ballot. You – a local voter – have to power to make changes at the local government level. The best day to do that is on election day. That’s the one day when you truly get your say on who you want to direct your community into the future.
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly community newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.