EDITORIAL: Only a handful of council meetings before elections

Tips for would-be councillors coming into the next municipal elections

There are just a smattering of official meetings of town council before nomination day.

Set for Sept. 18, nomination day will dispel any and all rumours of who is running, and for what position. While there hasn’t been any official word from current or potential candidates in Bashaw, those looking to run would do well to consider some of the benefits.

No doubt there are those who know they’re running but haven’t formulated their campaign and are considering how to make their announcement. For those sitting on the fence, it may be to their benefit (and for residents for that matter) to brush up on a few things.

• Read the minutes

All minutes for the Town of Bashaw meetings are available online on townofbashaw.com. Consider taking some time to review these documents. For those interested in running for office, these minutes will give you a pretty accurate flavour of council and town plans.

Not only do the minutes give some insight into the direction of council, which will help candidates understand key issues during public forums, reading them gives the individual practice in research. As a councillor you will need to research the information administration presents to you; might as well get started.

• Study now (if you haven’t already)

There’s lots of information available to those looking to run. Along with packages at Town Hall there is information on the Alberta Municipal Affairs website.

Along with some frequently asked questions and hand outs regarding roles and responsibilities of councillors, there are also links to other guides. For those looking to run, these somewhat dry documents could help set the stage powered with knowledge for the next four years.

• One-hit wonders

For those campaigning on one issue and nothing else, you need not apply.

One-hit wonders, or one-issue candidates generally don’t have a strong idea of the bigger picture. It’s always a challenge for people to reconcile that the organization is greater than the individuals that make it up.

No one is irreplaceable. Including one-hit wonders.

The community’s needs must supersede the individual’s and the councillor that pushes their needs, or their friend’s, over the community will be in for a rude awakening.

• Listen

A good salesperson will tell you that the biggest part of a successful sale is in the listening. People know what they want; a salesperson can help guide a customer to the right decision but telling them what they want is irresponsible.

For councillors that motto is just as important. Listening is an art form and regardless of one’s personal opinion, hearing from residents is important, even if you aren’t able to make that change.

• Not everyone gets what they want

While listening is such a big part of hearing from residents, sometimes you just can’t please everybody.

It’s a tough reality but when one looks at the overarching needs of the community, tough decisions will have to be made. If this makes you queazy, then you may need to rethink your intention to run. These decisions, when done in the spirit of community benefit, generally have a way presenting themselves as positive.

• Stay out of operations

Things get messy real quick when councillors get involved in the everyday goings on of administration. Don’t do it.

Some councillors go in there with good intentions, and it’s tempting to find out the dirt, but be warned: stay away. You will be doing nothing but a disservice to the town and will muddy the waters so badly that it will be difficult to find the shore.

Council has one employee, the CAO. Let the CAO do their job otherwise you undermine the whole process and make it so your administrator is ineffective. Your job in council is to set the overall direction for the town or county and setting clear expectations of the CAO. That is something that happens with any job where you have employees. Spend your energies on the tasks at hand and working with your fellow councillors.

Check the town’s website, read the packages and FAQs regarding being a councillor. They’re dry reading but there’s some seriously sound advice in there and it may give you the leg up when it comes to elections.

Election day is Oct. 16.